Puppets on set of Good Day Sunshine.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays a puppeteer transformed by his own puppet in Abi Morgan’s imaginative series.

Additional reporting by Keely Flaherty
Photography by Ludovic Robert
30 May 20246 min read

Against the backdrop of 80s New York City, to the tune of the Velvet Underground and the Cure, creator and writer Abi Morgan crafts a gripping, emotional story about two parents’ desperate search for their missing son, Edgar. The six-episode limited series Eric follows genius puppeteer Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch) as the weight of his son’s disappearance fractures his already strained marriage to Cassie (Gaby Hoffmann) and implodes his work on the cheery kids’ program he originated, Good Day Sunshine.

As he drowns in self-loathing and alcohol from his ever-present flask, Vincent discovers Edgar’s drawings of a furry blue puppet, Eric, inspired by the imaginary monster living underneath the nine-year-old’s bed. Vincent sets out to bring Eric to life, convinced that if the puppet appears on TV, their fraught relationship will be rectified and Edgar (Ivan Howe) will return home. “He’s a creature, like most monsters are, who comes from all of us,” Cumberbatch says of the eponymous puppet. “He’s the best of us. He’s the worst of us. But he’s in all of us.” What begins as a terrifying journey to find a missing child evolves into a powerful exposé of a pivotal New York epoch and a moving portrait of redemption. Alongside Oscar nominee Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar), newcomer Howe, and three-time Emmy nominee Hoffmann (Girls, C’mon C’mon), McKinley Belcher III (Ozark) portrays the fervently dedicated detective assigned to Edgar’s case. 

Here, Eric star and executive producer Cumberbatch, Hoffmann, and Lucy Forbes, who directs and executive-produces, shed light on making such an original and profound series, and what the titular monster means to them.

Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Edgar (Ivan Howe) sit on the subway.

Vincent (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Edgar (Ivan Howe)


“It always comes down to a sort of ephemeral heart, soul, gut instinct. There was something about playing Cassie that I just needed to do, and I didn’t really understand why. I guess there was something I needed to explore in the same corners and far reaches of my psyche that Cassie was experiencing. Just talking about it actually brings up a lot of emotion.” — Gaby Hoffmann, Cassie

“It’s just so fresh. It’s such a bizarre concept and on the page, one of those things that makes you go, Okay, this is teetering on the edge of impossible and ludicrous, and it’s going to take everybody pulling in the same direction with everything they’ve got. Those kinds of challenges are really exciting. They feel dangerous. I like leaning into stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable. The interaction with Eric, the interaction with this crazy character, just the whole journey of it, it’s all very much stuff that was about trust, and with a lot of people I’ve not worked with before who have great pedigree.” — Benedict Cumberbatch, Vincent and executive producer

Cassie (Gaby Hoffmann) wears a red sweater and smokes a cigarette.

Cassie (Gaby Hoffmann)


“Eric becomes an imaginary monster friend in [Vincent’s] life, like his Jungian shadow-self, which we all have, but we don’t usually have the privilege or terror of having come to life.” — Hoffmann

“He becomes a huge part of what needs fixing, but also a guiding light as to how to do it. And it’s a reflection of what a monster is, whether it’s bad behavior, fear, vulgarity, or a sort of unfiltered want and animal need, and it’s about how all those things fit into a world. [Eric’s] complicated [and full of] contradictions, and yet somehow it is a bridge between [Vincent and Edgar].” — Cumberbatch

“He’s the things you wish you could say and the things you wish you didn’t say. He’s the devil on your shoulder, the friend who will stay up all night with you and not take you home. Eric is the manifestation of the monsters under the bed, the monsters that are in you. [The story centers on the idea] that we are responsible for our actions, whatever the monster is telling us, because ultimately it’s ourselves.” — Lucy Forbes, director and executive producer

Detective Michael LeDroit (McKinley Belcher III) wears a blazer and button-down in a club.

Detective Michael LeDroit (McKinley Belcher III)


“When I walked in the first day to the set of Cassie and Vincent’s apartment, my breath was taken away. I grew up in New York City in the 80s, and our apartment was nowhere near as nice as theirs, but I was in a lot of those apartments. The art department is stellar and everything I’ve encountered — every set, costume, all the hair and makeup — has just made me feel like I’m at home, which is New York City in the 80s.” — Hoffmann

“It’s stunning, [the series is] worth it just for the visuals. Everywhere you look, the period detail is so well realized. It’s a fun period to pull off, especially when you get into a nightclub where you’ve got [Laura Branigan’s] “Gloria” playing in the background, and confetti going off, and everyone’s high. To one degree or another, you think, Yeah, okay this is just everything in the 80s at its best, as it should have been. Walking into Edgar’s bedroom and looking at the stuff around, like the E.T. clock and Star Wars stuff, it brought back a lot of memories.” — Cumberbatch 

“When tackling a show with multiple worlds and storylines, it can sometimes feel completely overwhelming. Ultimately, you want to service the story right, and make sure that things are touched on in a naturalistic and believable way. As long as everything is approached with truth and you have a subtle touch and don’t over-egg the pudding, then everything fits in. The production designer and I have probably looked at every single photograph that was taken in the 1980s in New York, and every single corner, wall, nook, and cranny of our production office was plastered with references. I didn’t want it to feel like a pastiche of 1980s New York.” — Forbes


“There is such powerful storytelling here, and it’s going to be a gripping, wildly entertaining ride that is going to offer [the audience], whether they’re ready for it or not, a very deep, dynamic, emotional experience. We try to tell stories really well so that we can keep people’s attention, so that they can hopefully have transformative experiences in their hearts and souls. But actually, when you’ve got a really good story and it’s well-told, it takes care of the intellectual part of the self so that the heart part of the self can have an experience it needs to have.” — Hoffmann

“The scale of originality is just breathtaking. It’s a crime procedural, a relationship drama, a wild fantasy. It’s thematically about so much of that very turbulent time in the 1980s, whether it’s the crisis of police corruption, homophobia, racism, homelessness, the crack epidemic, the AIDS epidemic. It has this propulsion to it, and it makes it a really thrilling page-turner, but you’re invested because of how rich and detailed these characters are; we’re not just fulfilling the functions of drama. The drama is as much about how that affects us.” — Cumberbatch