‘Euphoria’: Eric Dane Isn’t Trying to ‘Offend’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Fans With His Role in the HBO Series

Eric Dane plays Cal Jacobs, father of the toxically masculine Nate (Jacob Elordi) in the HBO series Euphoria. In season 2, episode 3, fans got a glimpse of Cal’s past and learned more about a friendship that changed his life forever. The episode also contained a major nod to Dane’s previous role in Grey’s Anatomy that many fans called “evil.” Dane swears he wasn’t trying to offend Grey’s fans with the clever reference. 

Eric Dane as Cal Jacobs in the HBO series 'Euphoria'
Eric Dane | Eddy Chen/HBO

The ‘evil’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ reference fans spotted in ‘Euphoria’ Season 2

In episode 3 of the dark HBO drama, fans got to see Cal in his youth. The episode highlights Cal’s high school career as a wrestler and relationship with his best friend Derek (Henry Eikenberry), who he kisses in a local gay bar after graduation. 

Since Dane plays Cal Jacobs and formerly Dr. Mark Sloan (Dr. McSteamy) in Grey’s Anatomy, some fans found it cruel how Euphoria named young Cal’s best friend Derek. For those who aren’t familiar with Grey’s, Dr. McSteamy was Dr. Derek Shepherd’s (Patrick Dempsey) best friend until Mark slept with Derek’s wife, Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh). 

“The writers naming Cal’s best friend Derek is really evil,” said one fan on Twitter. Many fans agreed, mentioning how their minds instantly went to Grey’s upon hearing Derek’s name and recalling how both characters are dead in the Grey’s Anatomy universe. Dr. McSteamy died in a plane crash, while Dr. McDreamy died in a car accident. 

“Cal’s best friend’s name being Derek though?!” tweeted another user. “Sam Levinson knew what he was doing.” 

Eric Dane hopes ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ fans will continue watching ‘Euphoria’ 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly from Jan. 23, 2022, Dane opened up the Grey’s Anatomy reference in “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys.” 

“I certainly don’t want to offend any of the Grey’s fans,” Dane started. “But as an actor, you want to be able to experience different characters, and I hope they come on the journey with me.” 

Eric Dane is glad ‘Euphoria’ dives into Cal’s backstory 

As the Grey’s Anatomy alum elaborated to EW, he was excited about diving into Cal’s backstory in Euphoria. “I knew that was eventually gonna come,” he said. “I’m happy it came this season. I’ve been very happy with the material that I’ve been given and I love this character.”

In the episode, fans learn more about Cal’s sexual exploration in high school. Just when Cal finds happiness in his relationship with Derek, he discovers his girlfriend Marsha (Rebecca Louise) is pregnant. Euphoria fans know how that story ended — the two stayed together and started a family.

Elias Kacavas as young Cal, Henry Eikenberry as young Derek in the HBO series 'Euphoria' Season 2, Episode 3
Elias Kacavas, Henry Eikenberry | Eddy Chen/HBO

He continued: “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.”

Cal is a ‘horribly complicated, terrifically conflicted, and confused person’ in ‘Euphoria’

Cal’s backstory shows Euphoria fans a softer side to the character. And for a good reason. 

“If we start off with Cal being a bad guy from the jump, there’s really nowhere to go,” Dane pointed out. 

“I thought that the way they handled it was pretty deft. You knew there had to be some sort of cause or condition that was placed on Cal for him to turn out the way he turned out, which is this horribly complicated, terrifically conflicted, and confused person who’s trying to figure out his journey, at however old he is, and start living his truth. He’s been living a lie his entire life. The only thing you can say really bad about [young] Cal is his timing was a little bad.” 

Cal’s story is heartbreaking, in a way. Instead of giving in to what his entire being wanted to do, Cal did what he thought was right and stood by Marsha. 

Watch new episodes of Euphoria Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO.

RELATED:  ‘Girls’ HBO Reboot: Lena Dunham Says ‘It’s Not Time yet;’ Kylo Ren Is Partially to Blame