The Australian actor broke out this year in the role of David Madson in Ryan Murphy’sAmerican Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. Next, Fern has a starring role in the upcoming Kevin Spacey-less season of House of Cards. He’s also writing and directing a feature film, produced by auteur filmmaker Xavier Dolan.
How do you approach playing a real person in Versace versus a fictional person in House of Cards?
“My process is ever-changing. It has to alter and adapt. Playing David Madson inVersace—from the moment he enters the screen, he’s pleading for his life in one way or another. So it was a very intuitive, emotional, raw experience. But House of Cards, you are working within the House of Cards realm, there’s a style and rhythm and structure to the show, where everybody is operating in this realm of sex and power and status, and there’s a game being played in every single scene.”
Is it true you almost quit acting before getting the breakout role in Versace?
“You’re always going to lose out when you’re new in town, have no credits, and you’re not 22. So I just started to get worn down. People didn’t know where to place me as an actor. They wanted me to play the boy next door and I refused to play that, because it’s antithetical to who I am and what I want to do. I wanted to work with Ryan Murphy because he’s a visionary and a trailblazer in terms of telling stories about minorities and sections of societies that people don’t want to look at. So I flew from London, went to the audition jet-lagged as hell, and I got the role. Everything changed.”