The Eddy creator Jack Thorne explains the show's unconventional ending
- TV Show
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Eddy.
Although The Eddy has the makings of a crime drama, series creator Jack Thorne says he was never too concerned with that part of the story.
The eight-part limited series, which is streaming now on Netflix, follows the exploits of once-renowned jazz pianist Elliot Udo (Andre Holland); his mercurial daughter Julie (Amandla Stenberg), who comes to live with him; and the house band he manages at his jazz club, the Eddy. Things get dicey for everyone when a major crime is committed and troubling secrets emerge about the club's co-owner, Farid (Tahar Rahim). In the end, the show chooses to answer some questions and leave others more open-ended, which is exactly how Thorne intended it.
Thorne, who wrote and executive-produced the series in a collaboration between Alan Poul, Damien Chazelle, and six-time Grammy winner Glen Ballard, spoke with EW about the show's somewhat ambiguous ending, working with non-actors in major roles, and where he sees the characters in the future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The cast and the crew of The Eddy are a very international bunch. What were some of the unique challenges posed by that?
JACK THORNE: Well, I've done it before. I did it on a show called Last Panthers. So I sort of experienced what it felt like [then] — and Tahar was in Last Panthers, so I'd also worked with him — but I love it because you are forced to think in a different way. And I really believe that there's something about it that really just sort of releases you as a writer to tell the story very simply and not get into convoluted dialogue conversations with yourself. So it was really fun. I mean, getting the team right was difficult, getting the writing team right was difficult, and getting that balance right among the writing team. But the actual process of working with everyone was such a joy.
When I spoke with Amandla, she mentioned that a lot of the performances involved quite a bit of improv. What can you tell us about that?
We had a mix of different things. The scenes were always the scenes. So, you need a bedrock for the scenes to actually work, but there was a mixture of different styles [of acting]. And again, when you're working with non-actors, getting away from the tyranny of the written word is a good thing. So yeah, no, we were always trying to release people. The story itself wasn't improvised, but there was a lot of improvisation. There was a collaboration between what the actors were doing on set and what was scripted. Where they went in different ways, the scripts then had to respond to it. But largely we fit within the template of what we were writing and what they were performing.
Speaking of the musicians, did you consider hiring actors who had a working knowledge of playing instruments, or did you always want musicians first?
It was a really interesting process, because obviously we needed these actors to be able to helm these episodes. They won't be just sort of a bass player who is stuck in the background playing bass. It was a character who would take the lead and would control an entire hour of story. And that was a tough thing, but thankfully we found Damian [Nueva, who portrays bass player Jude] and Lada [Obradovic, who plays drummer Katarina]. The two ones that had real focus for me were the drummer and the bass player because I knew they were going to have their own episodes. We found two incredible actors, both very new to acting, but both who produced performances that were absolutely sensational.
The ending, at least as it pertains to the central crime in the show, is a bit ambiguous. Was it always supposed to be that way, or was that a byproduct of the improvisation you mentioned?
The important thing for me was that the character stories are answered. The crime was never the focus of the show for me. It was never a show about crime. It was always a show about musicians and musicians in a particular part of Paris, and it was a story about that part of Paris. And so the important resolution was between Elliot and Julie, and that this was a coming-of-age story for the two of them, and that they were coming into their own and discovering themselves, and ready to be new people and ready to sort themselves out and ready to care about each other and about the band. And that is in the show. The crime plot, we didn't ever want to feel like that dominated things.
And we toyed with doing two action-packed episodes at the end that sort of answered all those questions and turned into lots of people running around, doing all that sort of thing. And it just felt like it wasn't true to the story we were telling. And certainly, as the character develops, and as the show went on, creating those [character arcs] felt more important than answering those sorts of questions or providing that sort of resolution.
It's a very character-driven series.
Absolutely. One of my favorite moments in the show is [Julie] approaching Elliot at the keyboard, and just how gentle and caring and loving she is in that moment, and how vulnerable and open he is to her. And that, to me, is the whole point of the show. These are people that communicate through music, they don't communicate through long, long dialogue exchanges. They communicate through the way that they play, and they support each other in that way.
So, this is being billed as a limited series, but I've gotten very wary of that term in recent years. Would you be open to doing a season 2?
You know, if we came up with a good enough story and came up with enough for the characters to do, then absolutely, but we're good releasing it as it is. Where we leave these characters is a really satisfying place for us. And there is obviously more stories to tell, but equally we're good with the story we told.
Do you feel like you know where the characters go? Does Julie stay in Paris for a long time? Do they nab the villain and get out from under him?
Absolutely. I have ideas, but hopefully the [characters] are vivid enough that people can have those dreams [themselves]. I hope Julie does stay in Paris, because I think it's the best place for her. I hope they do get out [from under Sami, the show's main villain], but I wouldn't know.
You want the audience to answer that on their own.
Exactly, exactly. Although the world is not quite at peace, [the characters] are at peace. It's not traditional, and none of the show is trying to be just traditional. It's that we were trying to tell it in a different way. And we wanted to make the show feel like jazz, where things were told a bit unconventionally, and the ending fits in with that, I hope.