Cody Fern Interview: ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’
Cody Fern broke out in a major way in 2018. The Australian actor stood out with a quietly devastating role in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” putting him in the good graces of producer Ryan Murphy, who offered him one of the juiciest roles in “American Horror Story” history: Michael Langdon, a.k.a. the Antichrist. Fern didn’t even know he was going to play Michael in “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” until two days before filming but he quickly found his footing among an intimidating cast of returning players. “I didn’t know how big my role was gonna be,” Fern reveals. “I was just grateful that it was as large as it was. I was really happy about it.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
To play such a psychologically-rich part as Michael Langdon, Fern researched theology and philosophy, studying the Bible and other texts in an attempt to figure out what could bring about Armageddon “from the perspective of a very damaged human being.” While the Michael we are first presented with in the first few episodes of “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” is that of a long-haired, lascivious figure with unlimited power, we soon discover just how not in control he is of his actions. After all, Michael is but a conduit for Satan himself, and deep down he is a fragile young boy who can’t do much to help his destructive actions. It was important for Fern to not approach Michael as inherently evil. “It’s a concept,” Fern explains. “You’re gonna fall into big trouble playing that.” He found Michael’s vulnerabilities as an “overwhelmed and afraid and emotionally needy, dependent boy.” In essence, “a man-child.”
It hasn’t been easy for Fern to let go of Michael Langdon. “I don’t know how to act if I’m not completely in the skin of the character,” he admits. “Something about it always tears my soul asunder and I have a really hard time.” It was especially difficult to film the final episode as Michael due to the circumstances of where things end for his character. Still, he likes how things conclude on a moral dilemma of what’s right and what’s wrong, ultimately coming to the conclusion that “you can’t stop the devil. He’s breaking down the door.” Even after suffering, or perhaps because he suffered such a tragic fate, “American Horror Story” fans have greatly embraced Michael. Some even took the time to craft fan art and tribute videos, by which Fern is “blown away.” The fan response isn’t something he was used to before his big breakout year and he notes that while it has been an adjustment, he has come to embrace the experience.
Fern got to work with a cavalcade of powerhouse actresses on “Apocalypse,” including Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, and more. Working with Bates and Paulson, in particular, was a dream come true for Fern, calling them both heroes. He adds that Paulson is “the real deal” as an actor. “She understands the craft in a way that is so refreshing and fierce and it’s not just about her talent. It’s about her work ethic.” He also commends Conroy in her quiet energy that gives way to an explosion “frightening in its power.” The young actor also had the opportunity to work with even more accomplished veteran actresses in 2018 with a guest spot on the final season of “House of Cards,” starring alongside Robin Wright and Diane Lane. In the series he plays Duncan Shepherd, the tech-savvy son of Lane’s character who discovers some uncomfortable truths about his past. As an avid fan of the now concluded Netflix series, Fern found this experience to be a “dream come true.”
As Fern looks to the future, he is hoping to land a gig in the recently announced ninth season of “American Horror Story,” titled “1984.” He says he has not been approached for a role yet, but, Ryan Murphy willing, he would like to be a part of it.