Playing Nate’s mom on “Euphoria,” actor Paula Marshall takes her role as a TV mom seriously — in part by baking cookies and delivering homemade salsa to TV son Jacob Elordi.
The first time Marshall met Elordi, he was standing — tall and handsome, she said — wearing a Leica film camera around his neck. As a photographer in addition to her decades of onscreen performances, Marshall said she felt immediately connected to him.
“I never see him on his cell, like hardly ever on a cellphone and he’s reading a book,” Marshall told TODAY. “Like who are you? He’s so interesting, he’s so old-school, and he doesn’t do it for show. That’s who he is.”
This connection is what powered Marshall and Elordi as they navigated an onscreen mother-son relationship in scenes about family toxicity, abandonment, trauma and abuse. Marshall’s character, Marsha Jacobs, has largely stayed out of the limelight in “Euphoria” but in the show’s sophomore season, her character had a story to tell.
Episode six of season two gave viewers a backstory into antagonist Cal Jacobs as he came to terms with his sexuality and realized the feelings were mutual with his best friend Derek. Not even a day later, his girlfriend, a young Marsha, calls him to tell him she’s pregnant. The Jacobs family, with its secrets and power, ensues.
In episode seven, Marsha and Nate have a dysfunctional heart-to-heart in the wake of Cal’s explosive departure from the Jacobs household. Over cigarettes and alcohol, she asks Nate about his relationships with Cassie and Maddy, including the time in season one when he choked Maddy.
“Don’t get so upset you end up choking me,” Marsha said after Nate denies having abused Maddy, chuckling to herself. “‘Cause I won’t drop the charges, I’ll f------ clean house.”
Playing the mother of the angry and abusive Nate Jacobs would be a challenge for anyone, especially as the show digs into the root of his toxic masculinity. Marshall credits their off-screen connection to her method in creating Marsha.
“It’s a little corny, but maybe those moments make you appreciate and learn a little more about him and you could use that in the scene,” she said.
Marshall also has something to say about the third Jacobs child that people are speculating about on social media — even she doesn’t know who it is. Fans began picking up on an unresolved detail after noticing an extra child in an old Jacobs family picture. Cal carries the photo out with him in the fourth episode, but the third child's identity remains a mystery.
“I am trying to figure out, like everyone else on TikTok, I’m like, who’s that third son?” Marshall said. “Was that a mistake? They could’ve photoshopped him out, why didn’t they? I know it’s not Ashtray, why would it be Ashtray?”
The lengthy, and oftentimes uncomfortable, mother-son exchange leaves audiences wondering what’s next for the family behind aggressor Nate. Cal has yet to return after a dramatic exit in episode four and it’s unclear if Marsha or Cal will return for the season finale on Sunday.
Marshall is ready for what she believes is Cal’s inevitable return to the folds of “Euphoria,” and hearing more of what Marsha has to say as an independent woman — outside of being a mother and outside of being a doting wife.
“Cal left, and all of a sudden Marsha has something to say,” Marshall said. “And I think that happens to a lot of women when they’re not controlled as much and restricted by this relationship and this man that they’ve been attached to for so long.
“You saw little glimpses of young Marsha in that moment ... I thought it was really great how Marcia was the aggressor, that (Cal) wasn’t and that’s kind of so cool, and it’s kind of like me and my real life,” Marshall told TODAY.