Is ‘Eric’ Based On A True Story? Unraveling Netflix’s New Crime Thriller

Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent Anderson in “Eric” on Netflix.Courtesy of Netflix
Netflix’s new crime drama series Eric debuted on the streaming giant on May 31. As you watch the gripping events unfold, viewers might wonder whether Eric is based on a true story and if Vincent Anderson was a real-life person.

Starring Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, the six-episode limited series follows Vincent Anderson (Cumberbatch), a desperate father and alcoholic who runs a children’s television show called Good Day Sunshine in 1980s New York. The puppeteer’s life starts to fall apart after his 9-year-old son goes missing on his way to school.

As he grapples with his son’s disappearance, Vincent becomes increasingly anxious and unstable. He relies on his son’s drawings of a blue puppet named Eric, convinced that Edgar will return if he can get the puppet on TV. Determined, he embarks on a journey and “battles his demons on the vibrant, dangerous, and intoxicating streets of ’80s New York” while alienating his family, coworkers, and detectives trying to help him, according to Netflix’s Tudum.

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“This is a story about people finding their home,” Cumberbatch told the streamer. “Whether it’s a child, a homeless person, a gay Black cop, a wife in an unhappy marriage, or even Eric on the show, it’s all about finding a place.”

BAFTA and Emmy Award winner Abi Morgan created the series, while the cast features Ivan Howe as Vincent’s son Edgar Anderson, Gabby Hoffman as his wife Cassie, McKinley Blecher III as Detective Michael Ledroit, Phoebe Nicholls as Vincent’s mother, Anne Anderson and more.

Ivan Howe as Edgar Anderson in “Eric” on Netflix.Ludovic Robert/Netflix
No, Netflix’s psychological thriller Eric is not based on a single true story. Instead, the chilling series is loosely inspired by several child missing cases that the show’s creator heard about while growing up in the U.K.

“It [Eric] wasn’t based on any one story. I think if I’d wanted to do that, I would have really gone deep into that story,” Morgan revealed to USA Today. “There were several children who disappeared. I wanted to create a kind of everychild; the simple act of going out one day and not coming home felt very resonant,” she explained.

The creator responded similarly about the show’s inspirations in an interview with “Well, I mean, weirdly actually, I think growing up in the U.K. in the ’80s, I remember being haunted by those stories of children who had gone missing, and then when I went to New York, I looked after a young boy in New York in the mid-’80s,” she said.

Morgan added the show is a “shout-out to those cities” where kids can go missing. “At the heart of the show is Vincent’s belief that ‘I want to live in a world where a child goes out into the world and can come home safe.” The Welsh filmmaker said that, unfortunately, “there are monsters in the most surprising places.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent Anderson in “Eric” on Netflix.Courtesy of Netflix
To research for the role, Cumberbatch watched a show about legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson’s puppet workshop. “[Henson] started out with these late night, very dark satirical skits that were adverts, and then turned to early childhood, early education — math and language and early learning,” he told Tudum. “It’s done in the most profoundly evolved, inclusive, diverse, and realistic way. Despite [the skits] being puppets, [they feature] a range of characters and people on-set dealing with everything from death to love to inclusion.”

The Doctor Strange actor added that it’s been a privilege to learn to be an “operator of puppets” through acting — especially at his age.

“One of the many things I love about my job is this ability to acquire skills that have no purpose in your life other than a moment in your storytelling history as an actor,” he continued. “What a privilege that is — learning how to be a creator and a maker and an operator of puppets. I didn’t think I’d be doing this at age 47. It’s amazing.”

All six episodes of Eric are streaming on Netflix. Watch the official trailer below.