‘Euphoria’ Star Eric Dane on Cal’s Backstory and Getting Held Hostage by a Kid

“There was blood that’s pouring out of my head, getting into my eyes, but it was one of the first times we see Cal not in the driver’s seat,” the HBO Max series’ actor told TheWrap

Eric Dane in "Euphoria"

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” the third episode of the second season of “Euphoria.”) 

“Euphoria,” HBO Max’s teen drama following the trials and tribulations of high schoolers who are, oftentimes, teetering the fine line between living and surviving, returned for its second season earlier this month.

In the season premiere, Nate (Jacob Elordi) gets his face smashed in by Fez (Angus Cloud) at a New Year’s party, so naturally, the second episode descended into a revenge heist of sorts as Nate’s dad, Cal (Eric Dane), goes on a mission to find the person who beat up his son. First, he tries to scare Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) into telling him what she saw at the party and then, goes to the corner store where Fez and his brother, Ashtray (Javon Walton), work to intimidate them as he buys a pack of gum. 

But then, the third episode begins with a flashback, finally giving viewers a look into Cal’s backstory, showing him as the sweet, confused high schooler he once was, falling in love with his best friend and exploring his sexuality.

“I hope that maybe [viewers gained] a little bit of understanding and acceptance,” Dane told TheWrap. [Cal’s backstory] doesn’t excuse his behaviors and some of the things he’s done, but it might give you a little insight as to who he is and maybe have some empathy towards him or compassion.”

Dane continued to say that while Cal’s actions are indeed inexcusable, he tries not to judge Cal, so he can “acess the absolute truth” of who he is.

The episode also showed Cal’s cold, distant dynamic with his strict father growing up, which explained his relationship to his own son, Nate.

“I knew this pattern of toxic masculinity and the way that I treat my son Nate, specifically, was probably handed down to me from my father who was probably handed down it from his father,” Dane said. “And I see a lot of myself [in Nate] and am resentful towards him, but am also resentful towards myself for not being able to stand up and be a good parent.”

In fact, in an effort to protect his son (and himself), Cal shows up and Fez and Ashtray’s house to assumably enact his revenge. However, the tables quickly turn and Cal ends up being held at gunpoint (and repeatedly gets smacked in the head by said gun) by Ashtray. 

“It was gory,” the actor said. “There was blood that’s pouring out of my head, getting into my eyes, but it was one of the first times we see Cal not in the driver’s seat. And I’m sure he had every intention of walking in there, bullying these kids to get what he wanted, but that changed real quick.”

But despite all the gory makeup and shortcomings that come with playing Cal, Dane said that it’s been “an absolute joy” playing him. 

“I trust Sam Levinson implicity,” he said. “Wherever he wants to take this character, I’m just along for the ride.”

New episodes of “Euphoria” premiere Sundays on HBO Max.