'Euphoria's' Eric Dane Explains Cal's Spectacular Melt Down and his Big (Prosthetic) Dick Energy

Wednesday February 2, 2022
Originally published on February 1, 2022

Throughout Season One of "Euphoria," the character of Cal Jacobs (played by Eric Dane) was about as toxic as you can get. The 50-ish suburban dad leads a double-life on the HBO Max hit: 'Alpha Dog'- dad to two sons (one of whom is the problematic Nate [Jacob Elordi]), but closeted and acting out his urges, most notably with the trans teen Jules, which may exist on a video somewhere. He was a shadowy, creepy figure on the margins of the story.

But in the two most recent episodes, show runner Sam Levinson tells Cal's back story, as well writing him one of the most spectacular breakdowns and coming out scenes in television history.

Last week, the story had a flashback to when Cal was in high school (played by Elias Kacavas), chronicling his relationship with Derek (Henry Eikenberry), his bestie. On graduation day, Derek takes Cal to a roadside gay bar where they dance and kiss. The next day Cal learned that his girlfriend, Marsha, is pregnant. Realizing his future has been determined, Cal wept.

On this week's episode, "You Who Cannot See, Think of Those Who Can," set in the present, Cal breaks down, first by getting drunk and recklessly speeding down back roads. He returns to the roadhouse bar that he hasn't visited in 20 years, puts Sinead O'Connor's "Drink Before the War" on the jukebox and picks up a random patron to dance with. But in the arms of the younger man, he imagines dancing with Derek. "I thought I lost you," he whispers to the stranger. His reverie quickly dissolves when his rowdiness causes him to be bounced from the club.

Returning home, he immediately breaks into laughter before pissing in the front hall. "Are you peeing. What is wrong with you?" Asks his shocked wife Marsha (Paula Marshall), before she is joined by his sons Aaron (Zak Steiner) and Nate (Jacob Elordi).

Men's Health described watching Cal's breakdown was "like watching an exorcism, but performed in the foyer of a McMansion."

Throughout the scene, Cal stands with his penis exposed, saying he's lonely, before owning up to his family about his double-life.

Addressing his older son Aaron, he asks: "Do you have any idea how many men I've fucked? I had sex with a man for the first time when you (pointing to Aaron) were in your mommy's belly."

He continued by calling his family hypocrites. "I'm a man. I fuck whoever I want whenever I want. I'll fuck men. I'll fuck women. I'll fuck transsexuals. And I will have a mighty fine time doing it. I eat what I kill. I'm a faggot, sexist, chaser, big fucking creep and I love it. Living a double-life, not my biggest regret."

That turns out to be Nate, whom he calls a "mystery." "I have lived with you. I have raised you. I am your father. I know nothing about you. That's not true. I know that you're angry. I am so sorry I fucked you up with my double-life." (Laughs). Okay, maybe I took mine to an extreme. I'll admit that. I have a problem. But the reason I have a problem is this family. That's why. I am not allowed to form an emotional connection. And I'm an emotional guy. You fuckers backed me into a corner, but you know what? I think you set me free. So this is farewell. I left you with a little memory of me here in the foyer. You two dickwards can draw straws as to who can clean it up. I'll see you assholes later."

The 49-year-old Dane told the Hollywood Reporter that this was the most difficult scene for him to shoot this season.

"Not only did it take 'an inordinate amount of preparation,' but he also wanted to be sure it was as impactful as it was meant to be." THR reports.

"Cal tells Nate that he's his biggest regret and, at face value, you might think that bringing Nate into the world is a regret. I don't see it as that. I see it as, 'I failed with you. You're my biggest regret because I failed,'" Dane says, unpacking how Nate and Cal's relationship shows how trauma can be passed on through generations and, in this scenario, toxic masculinity. "I don't know if Cal hates his son. He resents him, but I think, moreso, he resents himself for continuing the cycle of handing down the terrible attributes that were handed down to me by my father."

He continued that heading into the new season, he was surprised to see how his character was allowed to open up. "I looked at [showrunner] Sam [Levinson] and I was like, 'Wow, we get to create a whole new Cal,' because we've never seen this guy living his truth. Therefore, we've never seen him," Dane says. "We gotta break him down before we could build him back up. And that's what we're seeing right now: the absolute dumpster fire of a meltdown that is Cal Jacobs."

Dane also addressed his character's "Brokeback Mountain"-like relationship with Derek, saying that he thinks his bf would have "went on to probably do something similar to what I did, start a family. I don't know if Derek was as gay as Cal was. I think Derek and Cal were just best friends who loved each other and who wanted to share everything together."

He told Men's Health that finding the absurdity of the moment was super liberating. And it really set a tone that allowed the character to kind of breathe and be honest.

"I had absolute control over the penis. Because it was supposed to be mine. I approved it. I said, 'This looks like a nice penis. Let's use this one,'" said Dane, adding, "(I)t's very freeing to do a monologue with your penis out. I hope everybody becomes a bit more comfortable with their appendages after this show."