‘The monsters are not where you think’: Benedict Cumberbatch and Gaby Hoffmann on Eric

It is every parent’s worst nightmare.

The idea of losing your child can be too much to bear, but this was the awful scenario Benedict Cumberbatch and Gaby Hoffmann had to embrace while filming their new series, Eric.

Image: Cumberbatch with Ivan Howe as Edgar. Pic: Netflix

Hoffmann, who plays Cassie, the mother of nine-year-old Edgar in the limited Netflix series, said: “I was exhausted at the end, truly exhausted for a while, which I didn’t anticipate.

“The story as it’s experienced by each character, but also as a fable, is a sort of ‘dark night of the soul’ journey so I kind of expected to emerge from the darkness into the light and go dancing off into the summer.

“It took me weeks to shake, I think, maybe also [it was] the loss of the beautiful creative experience, we were all having.”

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Vincent, Edgar’s father and husband to Cassie in the show.

It centres around the storyline of the son of a famed puppeteer and creator of a children’s TV show (played by Cumberbatch) who goes missing in 1980s New York.

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A father of three, the Oscar nominee said his own children served as an anchor in his own life, allowing him to escape that mindset at the end of each day of filming.

“In performing… You kind of deep dive into this and then you rejoin your life. Both of us as parents find that very easy,” he said.

Cumberbatch added: “Children are an immediate panacea for anything at work. They are a present tense focus. You have to give everything back to them.

“So yes, it was taking it on and then taking it off again at the beginning and end of the day.”

Gaby Hoffman. Pic: Netflix
Image: Gaby Hoffmann. Pic: Netflix

‘The monsters are not where you think’

There is a giant, fluffy monster that follows Cumberbatch around New York, yes, but the series also highlights some major social issues.

“The monsters are not where you think they are,” the show’s creator Abi Morgan said.

“I’d grown up… in theatres, my dad ran theatres, so I wanted to kind of create what it was like to live with a creative maverick in the way that Vincent Hanson, played by Benedict, is.”

She says when she was 18, she spent time looking after a child in New York and wanted to bring those two worlds together.

The Welsh screenwriter says when McKinley Belcher III came on board to play Detective Michael Ledroit, the story was brought to a whole new level.

“It was really seeing McKinley’s performance that made me think there’s something really important that seemed to evolve about what it meant to be, black and gay in New York at the time.”

She added: “Obviously, we had the AIDS pandemic, but we also had, at that time, huge homophobia, and institutional racism in so many areas of New York and yet it also seemed such a diverse and vibrant city.

“I guess that was something that became more and more apparent to me as a theme and an important issue to really come back within the storytelling.”

Belcher said the opportunity to play such a significant role felt like a gift, and it “definitely did stay with me in some ways”.

He said it was a joy to “play a whole human,” away from the function of the plot, and “to get to wrestle with a lot of that human stuff and, to get to tackle what it would really feel like to be a black queer man in the 80s and all the things that he’s wrestling with”.

Cumberbatch and McKinley Belcher III. Pic: Netflix
Image: Cumberbatch and McKinley Belcher III. Pic: Netflix

Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy

Morgan has already had huge success in the writing world.

She received an OBE in 2018 for services to theatre and screenwriting and has created TV shows like The Split as well as the 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep and the 2015 Carey Mulligan film Suffragette.

In addition to Eric, she was recently part of the writing team behind the upcoming Bridget Jones film, Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy.

Previously praising the fictional character as a person who “actually had impact in real women’s lives”, she said it was a joy to write alongside the “phenomena” that is Helen Fielding.

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Abi Morgan on new Bridget Jones film

“Helen has created such a unique character in Bridget who I think is so brilliantly brought to life by Renée.”

Morgan points out the rarity of a character who “sustains into her 50s” and said it is down to the creative mind of Fielding.

“It was just a really fun thing to dive into and I think that the great thing as a writer is that you’re able to take on different cloaks and walk different routes. And so, it’s obviously an incredibly different project to this but it was a really fun thing to do.”

Eric is available to stream now on Netflix.

Source : Sky News