‘Euphoria’: Eric Dane It’s ‘Freeing’ Playing Cal — He ‘Is a Whole Different Story’ Than Mark Sloan


  • Euphoria fans learned more of Eric Dane’s Cal Jacobs backstory in episodes 3 and 4 of season 2.
  • Dane says it has actually been ‘freeing’ playing the loathsome Cal.
  • He also does not expect fans to love his character like they did his Grey’s Anatomy character Mark “McSteamy” Sloan.
Euphoria Eric Dane as a bloodied up Cal Jacobs
Eric Dane on ‘Euphoria’ | Eddy Chen/HBO

Euphoria dove into the backstory of Cal Jacobs during episodes three and four of season 2. Played by Eric Dane, Cal is one of the few adults on HBO’s popular high school drama. He’s also one of the series’ most loathsome characters.

Cal is absolutely nothing like the character that made Dane famous in the 2000s — Mark “McSteamy” Sloan on Grey’s Anatomy. The actor says it’s been “freeing” to play the troubled character. He also admits that he doesn’t expect people to love Cal Jacobs like they did Mark Sloan.

‘Euphoria’ flashed back to Cal’s secret love story during his teens

Euphoria fans got the chance to learn more about Cal’s backstory over the course of two episodes when the show flashed back to the summer before he went to college. It was revealed that Cal and his best friend had started exploring their feelings for each other.

But before they got the chance to figure things out, Marsha (Paula Marshall) announced that she was pregnant. Everything changed after that. Cal and Marsha married and started their family, while Cal continued to keep his secrets and live a double life.

It’s been ‘freeing’ to play Cal says Eric Dane

Before Euphoria, Dane was mostly known for playing Dr. Mark Sloan on Grey’s Anatomy for eight seasons between 2005 and 2012. While Mark was more of an idealized male character seen through a female lens — the smoking hot guy with a heart of gold — Cal is essentially on the other end of the spectrum.

“It’s been freeing for me to play this role,” Dane told Men’s Health. “You know, I loved working on Grey’s Anatomy, I loved playing Mark Sloan, and I never felt stilted—but I didn’t feel like there was too much that was asked of me in that role. And Cal is a whole different story.”

Eric Dane doesn’t expect people to love his ‘Euphoria’ character

Dane continued, explaining that a lot is asked of him in the role of Cal. He also noted that the expectations are very high. The actor says it was “incumbent” on him to “hit every note because Cal lives such a fragile kind of existence.”

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“This guy teeters on what is morally acceptable and what is legally acceptable,” Dane said. “So it’s important that I hit all the notes because otherwise he can so easily be misunderstood. There’s a humanity to this character that I hope comes out. I don’t expect people to love this character, but I hope people can have some empathy.”

Fans spotted a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Easter egg

During the flashbacks to Cal’s teen years, fans immediately spotted a Grey’s Anatomy Easter egg in the form of his best friend’s name — Derek. There was no doubt that there was a connection between Cal’s romance with Derek and the McSteamy/McDreamy bromance between Dr. Mark Sloan and Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).

“Maybe I’m just obsessed w greys anatomy but I think it’s funny that mark sloan is on euphoria and they named his best friend Derek,” one fan noted on Twitter.


Eric Dane loves his character and the ‘amazing material’ he’s been given on ‘Euphoria’

Dane understands that he will always be connected to Mark Sloan and Grey’s Anatomy. But he’s happy that many fans are following his career and have found him on Euphoria.

“I’ve been very happy with the material that I’ve been given, and I love this character. You know, I certainly don’t want to offend any of the Grey’s fans, but as an actor, you want to be able to experience different characters, and I hope they come on the journey with me,” Dane told Entertainment Weekly.

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“I’m playing with extraordinary young actors and amazing material on a fearless network. That said, I’ve been tickled with all this great material I’ve gotten this year.”

New episodes of Euphoria air Sundays on HBO. Fans can revisit Dane as Dr. Mark Sloan with classic episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.