[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the first three episodes of The Path.]
In the world of The Path, Hugh Dancy’s Cal has been a confident and charismatic leader within the religious movement at the center of the show. But the third episode of the series gave viewers a glimpse at what’s been going on beneath the surface, and what was revealed was pretty dark. Not only is Cal helping to conceal the deathbed illness of the founder of the movement, Steve Meyer, but he’s using that information to position himself as the next leader of the movement.
Viewers also learned a lot more about Cal’s background through a toxic visit with his alcoholic mother (played by Kathleen Turner) and learned how close to the edge he lives. The Hollywood Reporter talked to Dancy about what all this means for Cal, and whether we can trust his motivations.
This episode is quite a turning point for Cal. He’s been kind of mysterious up to this point. Given what happens with him, was it important to learn something sympathetic about him, that he’s coming from this background with alcoholic parents, at the same time that we learn he’s keeping this huge secret from the movement?
I didn’t think of it as a counterbalance, exactly. For me, actually, the fact of him keeping the secret, I’m as sympathetic towards that as I am towards the difficulties of his background, because I think that he’s chosen to do something that is incredibly difficult and lonely in order to preserve this thing that he believes in. And I guess what you understand by seeing him with his mum and learning a bit about his background is why it’s so important to him and why, in a sense, he couldn’t afford to have this belief system collapse because it’s probably the only thing that’s holding him together. So the two things inform each other a bit.
So part of why he feels compelled to go that far is that he needs this movement as much as the movement needs Steve to still be alive.
I think, yeah. He’s taking on that responsibility for lots of very complicated reasons, but one of them is just simple self-preservation. And you could also say, and I’m sure he would say, that he can speak personally to the power of message and the beauty of the message and its ability to save people, so why wouldn’t he want to preserve that message for other people? That’s part of it.