If there was ever a word to describe Eric Dane, it’s smoldering. The heartthrob actor who found shirtless fame as Mark “McSteamy” Sloan, M.D., for six seasons on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy is starring in a poignant new dramatic film, The Ravine. The movie is based on a book written by Kansas City native Robert Pascuzzi. Inspired by true events, The Ravine is a story of faith, forgiveness, and most of all, the restoration of hope—even for the most seemingly unredeemable among us.
We dished with Dane about his role, his upcoming trip to Kansas City for the film’s red-carpet premiere on Friday and other sundry items. (And, yes, we asked about his tongue-wagging performance in Euphoria.)
I watched your new film—it was quite a thinker.
I haven’t seen it yet. (You haven’t seen the final product?!) That’s not unusual for me. I don’t like watching myself. (Wait, you are coming to the premiere, yes?) I am. I don’t know how long I’ll actually stay in the theater, but I’m going to try and hold on to the seat as tightly as possible and go along for the ride.
Duly noted. You did a slow burn through most of this movie. Is that how you wanted to portray it?
Cautious. The overall themes to this movie are faith and forgiveness. One of the things (my character) Mitch Bianci struggled with was forgiveness. How do forgive somebody who’s done something so heinous that hits so close to home?
Tell me a little bit about your character—the aforementioned Mitch Bianci.
He’s very pragmatic, self-made guy. Mitch is a driven guy, but he has a cautious and controlled life. All his ducks are in a row, everything is great, his family is great—and then the unthinkable happens and the trajectory of his life changes. Everything he thought to be all but true in his world is turned upside down.
You shot this film just before Covid hit, yes?
I came home from New Orleans … (and the world shut down?) … yes, and right after that the world shut down. Your timeline is correct.
What was shooting in New Orleans like? Have you shot there before?
I’ve never been. And I found it to be such a great city. I mean, you can eat your way through New Orleans and have that be your experience. But I’m a huge fan of the architecture. Plus, all the antique shops they have because of the size of the port and how far it dates back. There’s a tremendous amount of history. The one thing I thought was super funny was that in the French Quarter there are some houses for sale and it says on the for-sale sign whether they’re haunted or not. It’s wild, man. It’s a very vibrant city.
Did you go to the WWII Museum?
I went there three times—that’s how awesome I thought it was. I had people come and visit and I took three different people. I said this is what you’ve got to see. Coincidentally, that museum is the most visited museum in the U.S.
Brace yourself—because the WWI Museum is here in Kansas City!
WWI is scary to me. That type of carnage—trench warfare—is one step away from William Wallace’s Braveheart. It just seemed like a much grittier, down and dirty barbaric battle. To tell you I’m going to see your museum is an understatement.
The film has a lot of different elements—it’s drama, it’s supernatural, it’s suspense. What did you gravitate towards when you took on the role?
The challenge was how do we convey a sense of forgiveness? How is the audience going to walk away with that forgiveness? [Antagonist] Peter Facinelli did a great job. He brought a level of humanity to it—some semblance of humanity—where you can find a sense of forgiveness to the people who had to move on from that tragedy. To be able to truly forgive under circumstances like that is almost unfathomable.
Talk to me about Euphoria. Your role as Cal Jacobs certainly got mouths talking.
It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It keeps me challenged every day. It keeps me engaged. By the way, the best job I’ve ever had is the job I’m currently working on. [laughs] Sam Levison is an auteur, he gets it. I love the words he writes. I love the cast and the dynamic we have. There’s an alchemy to it.
I started getting bor—well, not bored—with the roles, but I started feeling like this is just not me. I don’t feel like the captain of a naval destroyer or a plastic surgeon all the time. Everybody is a little broken and to be able to explore that without having to deal with the real life consequences is a gift. We’re back in production in April—season two coming your way!
You have a big boy birthday next year in 2022. Are you planning anything monumental?
I’m hanging on to my 40s. I’m not there yet. Are we skipping over my 49th birthday? [laughs] I’m not even thinking about it. I haven’t thought about a birthday since I was 43. I actually had to Google myself once because I told everybody I was 45 and as it turns out, I was actually 44. I felt like I cheated the system. I felt like I gained a whole year of my life back. If you can forget a birthday, you can gain a year when you realize you’ve been doing the wrong math.
Also, you are not aging. How is that happening? Are you sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber?
I’m aging. You’ll see. It’s CGI, brother. I have access to CGI. I don’t know—I’ll just say good, healthy, clean living.
Fine. I’ll take it. Your known for Grey’s Anatomy, but what would you consider your big break?
I would consider Euphoria as my big break. People didn’t expect too much from me before Euphoria. Still, the jury is going to be out on me for a while. Before Euphoria, people just thought I was a plastic surgeon or the captain of a naval destroyer—square jaw, perfect hair and adequate vocabulary. Season 2 is going to blow your mind. Blow your mind.
Tell me about Robert Pascuzzi—the author hails from right here.
He’s one of the good guys. You make movies and you have producers and you have a good working relationship, but when you’re done with the movie, you don’t carry anything with you. I consider Robert Pascuzzi a good friend. And his family is great—good people. I love them.
Talk to me about 2021, the year ahead—and what’s on the schedule.
Tomorrow I’m going in to have some dental work. I don’t think too much further into the future. I give myself about an hour of lead time. I try to keep both feet in the present moment—which is not easy. (Well, I’m glad I was on your radar.) Michael, I called you two minutes early. That’s how excited I was. (That you did!)
Interview minimally edited for content and clarity.