As Jacob Elordi’s gripping turn as Nate in HBO’s Euphoria sent his career into high gear, here, the real Elordi—a thoughtful Aussie with a penchant for fellow good-guy actors—jumps into the driver’s seat.
Brisbane-born actor Jacob Elordi did not so much catapult into the public’s consciousness as he did saunter into it. With his slow-mo entrance in 2018’s The Kissing Booth on Netflix, which emphasized his ripped build and grinning insouciance, Elordi’s overnight-heartthrob status seemed inevitable. The rest might have been history, were it not for the actor’s next big break: playing the closeted, sociopathic Nate on HBO’s Euphoria. Though technically young-adult-driven, the Sam Levinson drama, dubbed the “most shocking teen show ever” by The Guardian, was purpose-built to break taboos and shift paradigms.
In no small part, the show’s shock factor stemmed from Elordi’s Nate, which laid waste to the hunky purity the actor embodied in his rom-com debut. All id and muscle, Nate courses with hardly-contained rage. “You want my advice?” he snarls to his footballer friends in Episode 1. “You fuck her like the whore she is.” His wrath telegraphs a primordial yet still-relevant brand of masculinity: “Keep your head down,” he warns a trans student whom he’s attempting to blackmail. “Keep your mouth shut. Don’t try to ruin my life, and I won’t have to ruin yours.”
Even for an experienced actor, playing a guy like Nate would be intimidating. For a relative unknown, to take on such a role is risky, if not hubristic. But not to Elordi. “Pretty quickly after meeting Sam, I had an idea that it was something I was going to enjoy tremendously,” he says. “Obviously you never know how something is going to be received in the wider world, but I knew that I was going to have a good time making it.”
Still, the character of Nate is daunting by nature. One climactic scene offered particularly good PTSD fodder: the physical fight between Nate and his father (Eric Dane). “The breakdown scene came toward the end of [shooting]. So I guess I had been building up to that, and I knew there was that climax coming for the character,” Elordi says, calling in from a New Orleans-based film set. In said tussle, Nate flip-flops between aggressor and terrified child, eventually using his own head to beat himself half-unconscious. In watching the disturbing sequence, the viewer flip-flops, too: between hating Nate, fearing him, and pitying him, but never wavering in the thrill of watching a young actor do something great.“That scene was definitely a lot,” Elordi continues. “But then, the whole thing was [a lot]; I hadn’t worked that much. I’d thought a lot about being an actor, but I never imagined that I’d be doing a big TV show at this stage in my career.” Elordi was on the verge of audition burnout when he heard about Euphoria—first through an L.A.peer who was up for a role. “I helped a friend [make] a tape for it,” he recalls. “Then a few weeks later, I got the brief myself. It was such a standard-procedure kind of thing: I went in for the casting, then went back in for it, and again, and again…The caliber of writing was spectacular from the get-go.”
Critics agreed, largely extolling the show’s genre-pushing storylines, inclusive cast, and stellar acting. Besides its substantive and aesthetic achievements (“Euphoria threw a glitter bomb at its audience,” The New York Times summarized), Euphoria opened up the current golden age of TV to the YA genre—maneuvering a dizzying tightrope between tenderness and shock. Unlike much prestige TV, it relied on mostly newcomers to play its cadre of high schoolers. (The exception being Zendaya, who stars as Rue.) “It’s very rare to get a script…at HBO where they tell you they don’t need any names, just whoever is best to make this story,” casting director Jessica Kelly pointed out to IndieWire. Thus Elordi is not wrong in calling himself “really, really lucky” to have landed his role. Another stroke of luck: having muscled through one of the most talked-about first seasons of 2019, and leaving fans scrambling for more with its finale, Euphoria will return later this year for another round of can’t-miss histrionics.
He might be objectively a newcomer, but Elordi’s tour de force performance as Nate involved serious-actor methodology: On set, he would stay in character by keeping a journal as Nate. “It was about keeping tabs on my thoughts, as a character,” he explains. (Those entries, along with snapshots Elordi, an avid photographer, took on set, were later extracted and published as a zine by HBO.) Elordi also says he studies his actor role models the way other 22-year-olds might study math or English Lit. “I’m obsessed with actors in general,” he says. “More and more so as I get older, especially as I meet them. Seeing them work just blows my mind.”
Chief among Elordi’s objects of fascination is another Australian leading man, the late Heath Ledger: Before moving to L.A. with camera in-tow, Elordi discovered the photos Ledger took throughout his early years in Hollywood. Before that, Elordi’s actor-worship had guided his movie diet. “I was particularly influenced by Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling,” he says. “As I watched more movies, it was Marlon Brando and James Dean. After that, it was Montgomery Clift…I think all young men who want to act [have] that period of falling in love with [those actors]…I’m also a huge fan of James Franco as an artist. I have such a major interest in almost everyone working in the field, even down to someone like Nicolas Cage…I find that [so many actors] are doing something interesting, most of the time.”
Elordi is poised to make a career of doing something interesting, all of the time. He’s on set in New Orleans doing just that: the project is an adaptation of the 1957 Patricia Highsmith novel Deep Water, about an open marriage between a dysfunctional, possibly murderous couple (Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas). The film, which Elordi describes as “a marriage-drama-cum-thriller kind of thing,” promises a compelling mix of new blood and industry clout: In addition to a screenplay Euphoria’s Levinson, the adaptation is directed by thriller master Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Lolita).“It is really cool,” Elordi says. “Every day I wake up incredibly excited. [Lyne] is a legend, and I love Patricia Highsmith; she is such an interesting woman, and had the most unusual life.”
Whether immersing himself in the chilling mind of Highsmith or character-journaling for the second season of Euphoria, soon to be in production, Elordi seems poised to be the handsome face of Neo-noir. Still, the actor doesn’t plan on sticking to any one genre for too long. “I’m not actually someone who makes a lot of plans,” he shrugs. “One thing I’d like to do is to make more movies, because I enjoy the fact that they allow [for] these sin-gular experiences: You can play a character for a period of time. More than anything else, I’d love to do plays. That’s sort of my favorite thing in the whole world. I’m trying to build a space over the next two years where I’m in a position to be able to drop [everything] and do a play.” For somebody who cares so much about the work, making it as an actor has to feel euphoric.
Jacob is in the new issue of British Vogue. I’ve added photos to the gallery.
In the January 2020 issue, British Vogue spotlights an eclectic cast of electrifying rising talents set to define the decade ahead. Watch as fresh faces including actors Beanie Feldstein, Jacob Elordi and Ncuti Gatwa, writers Oyinkan Braithwaite and Jia Tolentino, and rapper Little Simz share what’s inspiring them, as they stand on the cusp of household name status.
Jacob Elordi Is Only Just Getting Started
The 22-year-old Aussie actor went from mainstream teen heartthrob to starring in one of this year’s most acclaimed – and controversial – TV series.
A couple of years ago, Jacob Elordi was ready to come home. Like many young Aussie actors with dreams of Hollywood, the Brisbane native had arrived in LA to roll the dice, and found his luck and his bank balance were starting to run out. More to the point, so was his visa.
“I’d been in LA for about a year, I didn’t have any work and I had no money,” he says when we meet in Sydney for today’s shoot.
“I didn’t really have anywhere to live and I was in my car and on mates’ couches. My visa had like two weeks before it expired, so
I was going to dip out and go back to Australia.”
Not that Elordi was entirely unknown. In fact, he had just appeared in a Netflix film called The Kissing Booth, a squeaky-clean teen romcom in which he plays heartthrob Noah Flynn alongside American actress Joey King. While it’s unlikely to have cost the Oscars judges much sleep, the film turned out to be a massive hit.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told The New York Times it was “hugely popular” when it hit screens in May last year, adding that their internal data showed The Kissing Booth had been “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe the world”.
Elordi’s IMDB rating went from 25,000 to one, he gained six million followers on Instagram and he would soon be begged for selfies with strangers everywhere he went, including during this photo shoot. Still, that initial taste of fame wasn’t exactly all Champagne and private jets.
“It was one of my first movies and your money runs out pretty quickly in Los Angeles,” he says. “I had my mum and dad making sure I was eating and I had a lot of support from friends, so I was very lucky. I was never down and out. But in terms of America,
I was done.”
Though he hadn’t entirely given up hope. Towards the end of his time spent on couches and in cars, Elordi auditioned for a role in a new HBO drama, created by American screenwriter and director Sam Levinson.
“I knew from the moment I auditioned that the content was going to be good because Sam’s writing is so impressive,” he says. “I didn’t know if people would respond to it or not, but I knew it was something I wanted to play and the world was something
I wanted to live in.”
The show was Euphoria, a gritty teen drama that centered on Rue (played by Zendaya), a 17-year-old recovering drug addict, and her circle of diverse, divergent friends, family and fellow high-schoolers. Among them Nate Jacobs, the cool, handsome jock who Elordi ended up being cast to play. But this was no Kissing Booth.
On the surface, Nate seems to be the perfect all-American kid, but behind the scenes he struggles with his identity and anger, and has a volatile relationship with his dad (Eric Dane). Elordi delivers a powerful performance, all the more so because it feels like such a departure for him as an actor.
In person, he’s taller and skinnier than you might expect, with angular features and a strong jawline that makes him look classically handsome. It’s a face Calvin Klein enlisted for its most recent underwear campaign, alongside Bella Hadid, Naomi Campbell and Diplo. So you can’t help but feel it would have been easier for Elordi to play it safe and stick to the clean-cut romcom path, rather than risk turning off any of the young fans he won with The Kissing Booth.
“I didn’t think about that at all,” he says of his decision to play Nate. “In fact I was kind of hoping that some people would start to dislike me – I was so excited to shed the skin of what everyone thought about me.
“I wanted to make things like Euphoria before I even came to Hollywood, when I was still in high school,” he adds. “So there was no change in my brain where I was like, ‘OK now I need to do serious work’. I knew the calibre of work that I wanted to do and I’m just lucky that I’ve been able to step up and do it so early on.”
Shot over about nine months in LA, the young cast spent more or less every day together and grew incredibly close on set. But Elordi is quick to clarify there is nothing to the idea that he and Zendaya are more than just castmates (“she’s like my sister”), rumours that had been doing the rounds online for a while.
“Zendaya is an amazing creative, you know? She’s super dope to work with. She’s an incredible artist and a very caring person to all of us,” he says. “But we’re all really close. There is not one weak link in that show. We’ve spent so much time together and everyone is just so cool to work with. Sam Levinson is just a genius and working with him, it was just like electricity all the time. I was in awe. Like a kid in a candy shop.”
After Elordi wrapped the final episode of Euphoria, he flew to Cape Town to start shooting the sequel to The Kissing Booth. And for the next few months he was out of the country, unaware of what the response had been when Euphoria premiered in June, or if there had been any response at all.
“I’ve been on the go since it came out,” he says. “I was in South Africa for the longest time, so I really had no connection with the world, in a way.”
But there had been a reaction. In fact, before Euphoria even hit screens, it had made an impact.
“HBO’s Euphoria flashes 30 dicks on screen,” screamed one headline. “Euphoria wants to shock you with penis episode,” read another. “HBO had to edit out 80 dicks from one scene,” revealed yet another take. Eighty dicks? Little wonder the conservative group Parents Television Council denounced the show for “overtly, intentionally, marketing extremely graphic adult content… to teens and preteens.”
“I know,” says Elordi, when we bring up the reviewers who’d been left clutching their pearls. “It was ridiculous. And even if you watch that scene, it’s not like you’re watching some aggressive porno. They want to have that clickbait title and everyone thinks it’s so crazy. I thought that was so silly but that’s the way it’s always going to go with this stuff.”
Euphoria is a raw, unvarnished look at teen life in America, tackling issues like sexuality, gender, substance abuse, depression, body image, sex, sexting and all the things that people struggle with when they’re young and just trying to figure it all out.
Yes, the series doesn’t shy away from nudity, but that’s kind of the point. The scene that caught everyone’s attention – the “30 dicks” – takes place as Nate walks through a crowded locker room. In other words, just another day for most high-schoolers.
And even if many reviews focused on its shock factor, titles such as The Guardian and Variety also praised the show’s performances, plot and the fact it doesn’t shy away from its more confronting subject matter. “Parents are the ones who might need a trigger warning as opposed to teenagers,” quipped the Hollywood Reporter.
Another of Euphoria’s strengths is its diversity – across race, gender, sexuality and size – of the characters it depicts. Besides Zendaya and Elordi, another actor singled out for praise was Hunter Schafter, who plays trans girl Jules Vaughan and who is herself trans.
“It’s a no-brainer, right? If you want honesty and truth and you want to portray people properly,” says Elordi, of casting a trans actor in the role. “And you have incredible actors out there – it’s the way that it should always be done.
“It is really nice that as a result of your work, maybe some kids can watch that show and feel like they’re a little bit more at home, that there’s people like them,” he adds. “That’s really important because I think that when I was a teenager I would have been looking for the same kind of thing, if I could relate to a character.”
Needless to say, Elordi didn’t end up coming home for good. He has a place in LA now and after The Kissing Booth 2 wraps he’ll be onto the second season of Euphoria, with plans to write and direct one day. He also has a few movies in the pipeline, though he’s quick to point out he’s just enjoying the ride.
“I don’t really feel like I’m building a career or trying to be this kind of actor or that kind of actor,” he says. “Every morning I want to wake up and be excited about what I’m going to do. I want it to be honest and fulfilling for me personally, and then maybe it can be fulfilling for the rest of the world, too.
“I still feel like I have a lot to prove, but I’m finally in a place where I can be proud of the work that I’ve done,” he says. “It’s been a blur and it’s definitely a version of living the dream. But it’s starting to feel a little more normal now.”
The actor has seen the Nate memes and says he can ‘feel the humor in the hate.’
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the Euphoria season 1 finale, “And Salt the Earth Behind You.”
One of 2019’s most terrifying villains is undoubtedly Euphoria‘s Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi).
The high school bully frightens with both his eerily cool demeanor and then bouts of violent rage.
In Sunday’s season finale, Nate and his father Cal (Eric Dane) had a violent fight that ended with Cal fleeing to his office while Nate banged his head on the floor and screamed.
EW talked to Elordi, who’s Australian, about the shocking scene, Nate’s motivations and mastering his American accent.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about that breakdown/fight scene you have with your father. Did you get hurt during that?
JACOB ELORDI: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, a lot actually. It was physically grueling, but Sam [Levinson, creator] and I kind of have this head nod when there’s an intense scene and the stunt guys would kind of lay it out for us. And then when we give each other the head nod, it kind of means that we’re just going to go for it when the camera rolls. And Eric and I, we’re incredibly close, so I basically said to him, “Let’s rock and roll and make it sort of as real as possible,” because I think it’s super important and he was on-board as well. So Eric f—ing smashed me. I was bleeding. I got a concussion. I ended up throwing up after work. It was gnarly. It was really, really gnarly, but it came at the end of my shooting period. I was just wrapping the show around that time. So it was almost like this massive letting go of everything over the eight months that we filmed. It was incredibly grueling, but it was so worthwhile and I definitely couldn’t have done it without Eric and Sam kind of walking me through it and helping me out. And it was definitely the most fulfilling thing that I’ve sort of ever shot. I have a magazine cover for Wonderland and you can see the cuts on my arm. But it was pretty cool in hindsight.
It still feels like Nate’s motivations and identity are unclear. Do you know what’s going on with him or is it also a mystery to you?
Well, I have ideas and I have sort of my journal, but I think the best part of it is for that kind of mindset, he’s always torn all the time. Between sort of his father’s teachings and then what he sees and what he knows and how he interprets things. So I always approached it scene by scene and I never let myself have a clear idea of what was going on because then when I was sort of delivering the lines to do during a scene, I was sort of just as confused as he was to a degree. You can kind of see it in episode 3. He tests sort of the waters with Jules because he kisses her and then he manipulates her, and that kind of threw me for the longest time because I was like, “No one’s watching. You don’t need to do that.” So I always think that as the audience is sort of trying to figure it out, I think he’s also trying to figure it out. So I never let myself have like a clear, definitive answer. I think that really helps.
He’s an intense, dark teen. How did you prepare to play someone so toxic?
I was an intense, dark, tortured teen [laughs]. I had a lot of time to prepare. I love cinema and I love acting, and it’s sort of been my love for the longest time now, so I kinda just let myself go. There’s really no other way to explain it. I just didn’t compromise, I didn’t let anything hold me back, I didn’t let opinions hold me back or ideas. I just kind of just let myself go and basically immersed myself in the world for the eight months of filming. I didn’t really do anything else. I would go home, I would work in my notebook, and then I would go to work and then do it. And I kinda just tried to live in it as much as possible, you know?
Nate is such a terrifying villain. What’s been the fan reaction?
It’s been hilarious. There are some funny people online. The most wonderful thing, though, is I can feel the humor in the hate. There is so much understanding that it’s acting, and there’s so much recognition for it being acting. I don’t know why that is because I’ve seen other sorts of TV villains get tortured online and get called awful things and I’ve heard that they’ve been spat at in the street. But I haven’t had anything. I’ve really only been embraced. And, I mean, one person pointed a Glock at their TV screen and took a picture of it. But I suppose there’s humor in that, I hope [laughs]. But yeah, it’s been overwhelmingly kind and just appreciative, which has been very new for me and very, very lovely.
Would you want Nate to have redemption in season two? Or keep down this path?
Whatever it is, I want him to have a life and I want it to be honest. I truly don’t have any qualms about which direction it goes. I mean, obviously, it would be a lovely story if he turned out to be a real sunflower and lit up the world. But I definitely want it to be just true and real to his experience and I want it to kind of make sense. And I’m not sure what that looks like.
Has Sam told you anything about season two?
I know nothing about season two. When we were making season one, I knew nothing about season one. We kind of just go for it. I mean, not that he’s holding back information or anything. We just finished season one, so I’m good. I can wait.
So some viewers noticed that there’s a third brother in the Jacobs family photo that’s shown in the pilot. Do you know where that other brother is?
We haven’t seen him. I don’t know where he went. I have no idea. I had the same questions when I got to work. I was like, “You do realize that there’s different child in this picture?” And everyone just didn’t really say anything. I don’t know.
Some people also think Rue (Zendaya) is narrating this from the afterlife and that she’s dead.
That is the first I’m hearing it. My feeling is that that’s pretty morbid. That’s a different show isn’t it? I hope not.
At the winter formal, the girls all say they think Maddie (Alexa Demie) and Nate will still end up together. Do you think that’s true?
I don’t know but I think that’s a pretty interesting commentary on trying to just exist and settling. I think because that’s so many different stories, they have this awful relationship and then they just try to make it work forever and then they die. I really don’t know, the way that I looked at the scene was, it was a really difficult goodbye. Because right after his breakdown, he tried to … had a moment of clarity and she definitely had a moment of clarity after everything they put each other through. And I saw it as a goodbye, but I mean, she has his dad’s tape now, so who knows what that means.
Is there something this season you’re particularly proud of?
I’m quite proud of the entire show. For a long while, I’ve wanted to be able to act and to be able to showcase that has been just an absolute pleasure. But I think for me, definitely the breakdown scene, because, I mean, before I started the show so sort of when I made my first movie, one of my qualms was like, “Oh, man, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do an American accent.” I knew I could do one but my fear was that I would just forget and be stupid. And then in that moment I was like, “Well, if you ever have to actually act, you’re screwed.”
So it was a nice confirmation after the breakdown scene. And in my head, I didn’t know if it was good or bad or whatever, but I felt something that kind of let me know that this is hopefully what I’ll be doing sort of for the rest of my life. And that was a really, really cool moment to see the year of work and all the notes, and obviously, with the support of everyone else, accumulate into something that I’m pretty proud of.
Nate Jacobs (played by Jacob Elordi) inspires a wide range of emotions from Euphoria fans. High among them seems to be anger and disgust at his seemingly sociopathic behavior.
One interesting emotion that I’ve noticed he elicits — particularly in marginalized audiences — is terror. But what exactly makes him so terrifying to these audiences? Is it the ease at which this town allows him to carry out his evil misdeeds? How he moves within it as if he is invisible? Or does it have more to do with his disturbing lack of remorse at ruining the lives of everyone in town with his twisted plans, one person at a time?
Truth be told, all of these things make him relatively terrifying.
Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Nate is that in the world of Euphoria, he represents an honest and unflinching look at the intersections between rich white male privilege, white male rage, and toxic masculinity.
And how these power imbalances start relatively young.
Part of Nate’s ability to be an untouchable antagonist stems not just from plot armor (for now), but from the power he draws from his various privileges. He’s a cishet white male who can fall back on the safety cushion that is his wealthy family. His dad, Cal Jacobs (played by Eric Dane), seems to own like 99.9% of the town. And while he’s busy hiding his true sexual nature from the world in seedy motels, his son flexes that 99.9% “ownership” on its unassuming inhabitants like Tyler (Lukas Gage), who Nate coerces into making a false confession about choking Maddy (Alexa Demie), and town newcomer Jules (Hunter Schafer), who he blackmails into claiming she witnessed Tyler commit the physical assault that was actually Nate’s own act of violence against his girlfriend.
Nate’s a very tall (if you’re into that) dude who is conventionally attractive (nice body, symmetrical features where his face is concerned, etc). He’s not so remarkable looking that he would stand out and inspire suspicion, but he’s just attractive enough that people may assume, based on that, that he couldn’t possibly be up to no good — since “good” is often assumed in those who are “attractive.”
But Nate is far from “good.” Aside from Maddy’s mother and the principal — notably, both characters of color — assuming Nate could be capable of physical assault and his classmates’ reactions to his outburst at McKay’s party in the first episode, no one assumes malice in him because Nate carries himself — when he’s not being ferociously nefarious — like a regular, shy, unassuming, and misguided teenage boy who merely has puppy eyes for Maddy and has made a couple of mistakes. He’s most likely what people have in mind when they say “Boys will be boys” and coddle sociopaths-in-the-making like him by opting to excuse their demented behavior instead of addressing it.
I’ve said this jokingly before, but Nate truly is a mini-Patrick Bateman from American Psycho in the making. Someone who has all the makings of a real monster, but disguises himself as the opposite — and in plain sight — thanks to societal biases.
This is enough to make him incredibly dangerous on his own, but the real danger lies in the fact that his brand of villainy is something that many of us have firsthand experience with. That is someone with extreme privilege and someone who is not afraid to misuse it.
Which is why his clearly-unaddressed rage should be terrifying.
So far the show has hinted that the majority of Nate’s rage stems from him being aware of his father’s repressed sexuality after watching his dad’s ultra-organized porn collection and not being able to talk about it — out of either shame or fear. And from his fixation on his own “perfection” — modeled after his father’s pursuit of perfection and disdain for “weakness” — we know Cal having that big secret about his sexuality is technically an imperfection to his obsessive son. That Cal trying to hold on to his hollow and frankly sad definition of masculinity is inspiring a horrendously toxic version of that in Nate.
This is compounded by the fact that something seems to be up with Nate’s own sexuality. He’s shown an abnormal discomfort around other men’s penises in the gym locker room, but his phone is filled with pictures of them. He’s also confessed to Maddy that he’s going through a lot and is “confused.” But Nate’s also shown a recurring fascination with Jules (and her being trans) both during lengthy text message exchanges using the alias “Tyler” and during some IRL stalking. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he is secretly in love with Jules, mainly because I don’t think Nate loves anything or anyone. Nor is he capable of such. He merely only deals in fixation, preoccupation, and obsession. But if we compare some of his more obsessive ways with Jules with the ways in which he sometimes obsessed over Maddy (like all that stalking), it becomes harder to determine whether he is out to ruin Jules’ life in particular merely because he can (i.e privilege), or because his dad — who he is also obsessed with and possibly fearful of — slept with her, or, because her existence as a trans girl and his seeming attraction to her vexes his cishet sensibilities, “confusing” him, and thus angering him (mirroring real-life and often deadly interactions between cishet men and trans women) enough to want to literally destroy her.
Whatever the specific cause is, it’s pretty clear that Nate doesn’t want to be perceived as weak or imperfect like his father. And Jules and everything stands in the way of what he wants challenges that and inspires this sociopathic rage in him.
Nate’s struggle with his glaring daddy issues serves to be his prime motivation for morphing into Patrick Bateman Jr. and terrorizing his high school. And to be clear, said issues could easily be fixed by a therapist that the Jacobs family could afford 3000 times over. But the thing about white male rage and boys like Nate who carry it with them is that it goes beyond recognition or validation. Normal people get mad and normal people rage, but the difference here is that this particular rage requires everyone around to answer for it and bow to it. Even if you have nothing to do with what has triggered said rage, the combinations of privilege, radioactive masculinity, and anger dictate that since this white boy has gone and got his ego hurt and his privilege undermined by whoever or whatever, everyone else has to suffer for it. Everyone has to pay for it.
If you take their toy away, like Nate sees Tyler doing with Maddy? You gotta suffer. Hold them accountable for something they did, like with the school shunning Nate for choking Maddy? You gotta suffer. Inspire discomfort in them merely because you seem to be exceedingly comfortable with yourself, like this entire dynamic between Jules, Cal, and Nate?
You gotta suffer.
Because this is all essentially about control. Control of themselves, others, and most likely the status quo that finds them at the top. And the moment that boys—and soon men—like Nate lose even a modicum of that control, they opt to burn it all down rather than relinquish it.
And it is this volatility and seeming familiarity that the audience may have with a character like Nate that makes him one of the most terrifying antagonists one television right now. Nate is dastardly and unbothered with how much evil he is capable of, but at the end of the day, he’s not that much of an anomaly and its highly possible that many of us know or have even come across a “Nate” in our lives.
And perhaps that disturbing realization is the point.