Cody Fern on Finding Relatability in the Antichrist on ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’
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Cody Fern on Finding Relatability in the Antichrist on ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’

Step one in preparing to play the antichrist? Learn how to relate.

“I don’t know how to play a character unless I love him,” Cody Fern tells ET of his role as Michael Langdon, the antichrist, on American Horror Story: Apocalypse. “I don’t see the evil. It’s not useful to me… you can’t play evil. How can I play evil?”

Fern comes pretty darn close on the FX series, which is, remarkably, only his third television show. As the Australian actor notes, he’s only really been in the business for five years. After honing his chops in Australian theater, he arrived in Los Angeles to pursue his Hollywood dreams, but didn’t work for three and a half “brutal” years. Everything changed with Ryan Murphy.

The super-producer cast Fern as David Madson in his other FX series, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. “It was my first real professional job,” Fern says of the gig. Though he calls it a “somewhat smaller supporting role,” it was enough to impress Murphy, who gave him a breakout part in the new installment of AHS. Fern, who also stars on the new season of House of Cards, has been working steadily ever since.

As for his role as Michael, the 30-year-old actor admits that reading the Satanic Bible was one of the more interesting ways he prepared to step into the character — but not the most important.

“The human angle, that’s exactly what I went for, because how can you play the antichrist? For me, I can’t play a metaphor or a symbol. I needed to play a human being, and I needed to play a human being who is just like any other, who has longing, who has needs, who is hurt, who loves and needs love, and that’s how I went about going and getting to the core of who he was,” Fern explains, revealing that he took inspiration from how Queen Elizabeth II’s life was portrayed on Netflix’s The Crown.

“Imagine being born into something that supposedly serves a greater purpose,” he says. “That’s how I approach Michael’s anger, first and foremost, that he was born into something that he doesn’t understand, that he doesn’t choose. That he needs to go about molding himself into, that other people are continually pressing onto him, that there are all of these expectations and these weights and he has these impulses that he doesn’t understand, that he is just enacting.”

Last week’s episode saw Michael’s confusion come to a head, in a vicious scene in which he murders a goat that was “mocking” him, Fern describes. “I grew up in an area where people would go around and kill things, and I very much was not about that,” the actor admits of his childhood, though says his personal views didn’t come into play while filming the scene.

“That whole scene is the reverse temptation of Christ, you know. So that didn’t bother me at all,” he says with a laugh. “It’s certainly not playing myself. There are elements of myself in the role, but then I have to kind of let all of that go. And you’re imagining things. That’s the wonder of it. You get to play in this different realm where you are not you, so there’s always the barrier. And you know, I’m not killing a real goat, so I was just fine.”

With just two episodes left of the season, Fern teases that fans can expect more of the Apocalypse journey. “We’ve come to learn it’s not a general thing that Michael is carrying out, but rather a very personal attack against a particular group of people. And even more specifically, against Cordelia,” he notes, hinting there’s a prophecy that cannot be avoided. “So that will certainly feed into what we are about to see, and Michael’s sense of righteousness moving forward about how he’s going to come back to Cordelia. I can’t give too much away.”

Fern wrapped production on AHS last week, confessing that leaving the character behind felt like “a cleaving of the soul.” “I’m kind of coming back down to earth, and it’s going to be a process, you know? Especially because I so loved playing Michael and I so loved being in his skin. So it’s tough,” he says. “But you know, I will say, I’ve had the most extraordinary year of my life. And I’m so grateful for it, and I’m so overwhelmed by it.”

“Look, if Ryan asked me back, I would be thrilled. I mean, Ryan is such an exceptional artist and human being. I want to work with him again and again and again and again, so if I had that opportunity, I 100 percent will jump, but I’m focusing on the present,” Fern muses. “Whereas normally I would be worrying about what the future is going to bring, I’m just bathing in this moment right now, and it’s been the most glorious moment of my life. So I’m incredibly fortunate and just so grateful.”

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Cody Fern Responds to Church of Satan Criticism: “He’s a Righteous Character”
Categories American Horror Story Apocalypse interview press

Cody Fern Responds to Church of Satan Criticism: “He’s a Righteous Character”

Cody Fern speaks to The Hollywood Reporter about embodying Michael Langdon on the FX horror anthology and teases a “satisfying” ending to ‘Apocalypse.’

Cody Fern didn’t know he was playing the Antichrist when he first landed his American Horror Story role.

The actor had broken out with a performance on Ryan Murphy’s other FX series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and had just wrapped filming on the final season of Netflix’s House of Cards. Two days before heading into production on the eighth season of horror anthology AHS, titled Apocalypse, Fern realized he was playing more than just a guy with “long, blonde hair and an affinity for capes” when he saw the name of his character in the new script: Michael Langdon.

AHS viewers first met Michael Langdon in season one’s Murder House. Michael was a 3-year-old who had been prophesied to be the Antichrist, the son of the devil who would bring about the end of the world. Seven seasons later, Murphy returned to that mythology with the crossover season of Apocalypse, which has tied together Murder House and season three’s Coven with the end-of-the-world plot. By design, mystery still swirls around the man at the center of the season as it barrels towards its conclusion.

Continue reading Cody Fern Responds to Church of Satan Criticism: “He’s a Righteous Character”

Cody Fern Doesn’t Care If You Like Michael Langdon
Categories American Horror Story Apocalypse interview press

Cody Fern Doesn’t Care If You Like Michael Langdon

Cody Fern didn’t know anything about his American Horror Story: Apocalypse character. Well, almost nothing. He knew he’d be wearing a luxurious wig.

“What wig? [Laughs.] The discussion about the wig was the first thing I knew about the character. I found out that’d I’d be playing a character in American Horror Story back in October, but I didn’t know who it was going to be until days before filming,” Fern told E! News. He knew he’d be working with Sarah Paulson and that’s pretty much it.

“I didn’t know who I was playing, I just knew he would have long, Dorian Gray-esque hair and would love capes. That’s all I knew. The discussion about the wig…I don’t remember having a discussion in which it was to match Connie Britton, but I know there was to be elements of other characters imbued into him, but I didn’t know which, because it was so under wraps…[Ryan Murphy] was very specific about wanting that wig. Ryan was incredibly involved in that wig,” he said with a laugh.

Viewers—and Fern—now know he’s playing Michael Langdon, the son American Horror Story: Murder House characters Vivien (Britton) and Tate (Evan Peters). Billie Dean Howard (one of Paulson’s many characters this season of AHS: Apocalypse) predicted Michael Langdon, the son of a spirit, would be the Antichrist. He’s living up to that destiny, whether viewers like him or not.

Continue reading Cody Fern Doesn’t Care If You Like Michael Langdon

Cody Fern: ‘I Don’t See Michael as Evil’
Categories American Horror Story Apocalypse interview press

Cody Fern: ‘I Don’t See Michael as Evil’

Cody Fern broke hearts and broke out with his performance as David Madson in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” But now he has re-teamed with Ryan Murphy for “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” in which he plays the demonic Michael Langdon, who can snap the necks and stop the hearts of those in his way with just a flick of his wrist.

Fern says after working with Murphy on “Versace,” the prolific producer asked him when he’d next be available because he knew he wanted to get him on “Horror Story.” But he did not tell Fern exactly who he would be playing right away.

“[Ryan] pitched me a character with long Dorian-esque hair, that had a lot of power but also a significant amount of vulnerability,” Fern tells Variety. “I didn’t know I was playing Michael Langdon until a week before we started filming.”

The main pitch, Fern continues, was that Murphy told him he’d be working with “extraordinary women,” and the two had a “gush session” about Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates. He also “pitched me as the good guy in the scenario and the hero in the scenario,” which Fern found funny because he actually thought the villain would be more interesting.

“But how it all shakes out in the end, I’m playing both of them, in a way,” he says.

Continue reading Cody Fern: ‘I Don’t See Michael as Evil’

INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO FOR CR MEN ISSUE 7
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INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO FOR CR MEN ISSUE 7

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.”

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Cody Fern for The Last Magazine
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Cody Fern for The Last Magazine

Gianni Versace gets title billing in the current season of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series American Crime Story, but the story belongs to his murderer, Andrew Cunanan. A serial killer who targeted gay men, Cunanan was already being pursued by the FBI in connection to four murders before he shot Versace in the head outside his beachfront villa in South Beach in July 1997, and while the season opens with the famed designer’s death, it quickly spins back in time to track Cunanan’s bloody path to Miami. In last week’s episode, Cunanan, played by Darren Criss, killed Lee Miglin, a closeted married man who was a longtime client of Cunanan’s escort services, and tonight introduces David Madson, Cunanan’s ex-boyfriend and second victim, who is portrayed by the Australian newcomer Cody Fern in his television début. “If you know Ryan’s work, you know that Ryan is not going to just give you the assassination of Gianni Versace,” Fern says. “That doesn’t interest him so much as the context around it and how it got to this point. He finds ways into stories that nobody else does. I don’t know where it comes from, but he understands human nature in a way that most people don’t.”

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SCREEN TEST: CODY FERN
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SCREEN TEST: CODY FERN

The newcomer on growing up in the Australian outback, playing Jennifer Garner’s son, and his next role on American Crime Story.

Based on Joy Nicholson’s 1997 best-selling novel of the same name, Brendan and Emmett Malloys’ sophomore narrative feature, The Tribes of Palos Verdes—with Karen Croner’s capable script that exchanged several directors’ hands during its nearly two decades in development—is the story of a family in crisis, set against the spectacular backdrop of coastal Southern California.

The Masons just relocated to an affluent Palos Verdes, planting roots in an idyllic clifftop residence overlooking the Pacific surf. But as our teenage protagonist Medina (Maika Monroe) informs us in voiceover, there was trouble brewing long before the family arrived in this paradise. At 16, she’s an outcast who relies entirely too much on her effortlessly charismatic twin brother Jim (Cody Fern). Medina and Jim take to the waves every chance they get—their mastery of the surfboard a reprieve from their doomy lives at home. Consider their manic depressive mother Sandy (Jennifer Garner), who grows pathologically dependent on Jim when her follow-your-bliss husband Phil (Justin Kirk) extricates himself from her “black hole moods” to be with their young, bubbly real estate agent (Alicia Silverstone). In fact, Medina and Sandy are so thrown off-balance by this adjustment from heartland Michigan to a rigid and superficial world that keeping them on an even keel takes precedence for Jim, even as he slips deeper into his own drug abuse—a seismic disaster-in-wait.

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Southern Cross actor Cody Fern inspired by Heath Ledger
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Southern Cross actor Cody Fern inspired by Heath Ledger

From small mining-town Southern Cross, WA-born and raised Cody Fern looks set to take Hollywood by storm after winning the Australians in Film’s sixth annual Heath Ledger Scholarship in Los Angeles.

Fern was inspired to pursue acting after seeing Ledger in the 2006 film Candy where the late WA actor played a heroin addict.

“He’s an inspiration, in particular because I come from WA where he is a legend but personally and professionally – it means the world to me to win this scholarship,” Fern said.

Twenty-five-year-old Fern remarkably only stepped on to a stage five years ago. He graduated from Curtin University with a bachelor of commerce.

Fern has since appeared in numerous plays including as Romeo in Perth’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet in 2011 before moving to Sydney and landing the coveted lead role of Albert Narracott in the Australian production of War Horse in 2012.

He has just signed with an LA agent and manager and has auditioned for a number of feature films with his “dream role” being playing opposite Meryl Streep or Daniel Day-Lewis.

His prize includes a $10,000 cash fund, a two-year scholarship at Los Angeles’ Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre and mentoring opportunities with industry professionals and the AiF.

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Q&A: Heath Ledger Scholarship Recipient Cody Fern Talks Future in Film
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Q&A: Heath Ledger Scholarship Recipient Cody Fern Talks Future in Film

From a small mining town in Australia to the American stage, Australian-born Cody Fern has taken many routes during his pursuit to strengthen and further his acting skills. Now, Fern is the 2014 recipient of Australians in Film’s sixth annual Heath Ledger Scholarship, an award aimed at financially and professionally supporting actors of Australian descent. On Thursday night, Fern accepted the award, which also includes a $10,000 cash fund, a two year scholarship at Los Angeles’ Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre and mentorship from the father of the late actor Heath Ledger, at the fundraising dinner held at the SLS Hotel. Moving ahead, Fern said he looks forward to future roles he wants to pursue, outside passions and actors that have inspired him.

What does the scholarship mean to you?
It’s profoundly important as an actor and as an individual coming from Australia. It’s one thing to be supported in your career and another thing for your peers to embrace you and say we believe in you. It feels like a sense of belonging, and especially as an actor, you need those moments in your life that tells you to keep going and chasing this crazy dream you’ve had in your life.

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Australian ‘War Horse’ Star Wins Heath Ledger Scholarship
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Australian ‘War Horse’ Star Wins Heath Ledger Scholarship

Cody Fern, 25, beat out runners-up Charlotte Best and Axle Whitehead for the $20,000 prize.

Western Australian actor Cody Fern was named the Australians In Film Heath Ledger Scholarship winner for 2014 at a celebratory dinner in  Los Angeles on Thursday that was hosted by musician, actor and director, Tim Minchin.

The 25-year old, best known for his role as Albert in the Australian version of the National Theatre of Great Britain production of War Horse, has secured the $20,000 prize against stiff competition from another 19 young Australian actors, with Australian Idol alum and Home and Away star Axle Whitehead and Charlotte Best named as runners-up.

Fern says that thanks to the award, he is now able to fast-track his plans to relocate to Los Angeles, where he is already in discussions for several projects.

“I’ve always had plans to come to Los Angeles; now it’s a reality and will happen a lot sooner,” Fern told The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s some exciting projects going on, it’s looking bright and the award makes it all possible,” he added.

Continue reading Australian ‘War Horse’ Star Wins Heath Ledger Scholarship