Bad things often come in pretty packages. That's definitely the case with Michael Langdon (Cody Fern), the Antichrist currently wreaking havoc on American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Fans are thirsting after the spawn of Satan online while he works tirelessly to bring about the end of the world and take down our beloved Supreme, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), in the series.
After a few weeks spent exploring Langdon's past connections with the Coven witches, the next episode will find Madison (Emma Roberts) and Behold Chablis (Billy Porter) uncovering his Murder House backstory in an episode that will bring about the return of Jessica Lange as Langdon's adoptive mother Constance.
So what should we expect of Constance and Langdon's relationship? Is Langdon inherently evil or could he push against his Satanic destiny? And what's it like playing the world's sexiest Antichrist? TV Guide spoke to American Horror Story breakout star Cody Fern about all this and more.
Pretty much as soon as the first photos of you as Michael Langdon came out, people haven't been able to stop talking about how sexy the Antichrist is. When you took on the role of the son of Satan, did you imagine you'd also become a sex symbol?
Cody Fern: [Laughs] Oh, I haven't thought about it for one second. That's all a bit too much for me. I've stayed as far away as I can from the response to the show. I don't have a Twitter so I don't know what's happening in that world. ... But no, I haven't. No, I haven't looked at it. That's very overwhelming.
A lot of the characters in the show, from Gallant to Madison, definitely seem to be attracted to Langdon too. But does the Antichrist have a sexual orientation or an interest in sex? Is there something about his evil charisma that attracts people to him?
Fern: I don't think that we can talk about Langdon as an evil character and I don't think he has an essential evilness. I think that's something that's projected onto someone. We decide as a society what's good and what's bad, and for Langdon, I think what he is seeing is a world that has fallen into disarray. He sees a world built in God's image in which men are greedy and selfish and righteous and create war and hunger and famine and that's pretty evil. So he's not evil in and of himself. He's leaning into his purpose; he's the son of Satan. But who's to say that the essential nature of man is not bad, is not corrupt? And that's what Langdon leans into. He really leans into the places in a person they try to keep hidden, that they're protecting from the world lest they seem evil or cruel, but it comes out of them.
Does Langdon have a sexuality? I don't think so. He's certainly not geared toward one or the other. I think that he's a very sexual being in and of himself. But he doesn't have a preference. He brings out the desires in people's hearts, whether that's for power, whether that's for sex, whether that's to kill a family member. So he really leans into whatever the person is feeling in their heart and in their body and that's his sexuality. That's what turns Langdon on. I know that he doesn't have a preference. I've been playing him without a preference.
I love when we get to see Langdon's interactions with Mead. He really seems to genuinely care for her and is even vulnerable with her at times. Why is Langdon so different with Mead, and will we see more of that side of him this season?
Fern: We definitely are. I think what's been thrilling about Michael Langdon is he's on this real journey. We see him at Outpost 3 and he's this confident, self-assured, very righteous character who understands where he's headed and what he needs to do. And as we go back in time, of course, we're introduced to a character who doesn't have everything under control, who's not so confident about who he is and what he's doing and where he's going. And that's an important aspect. He's been propelled into a world in which his destiny has been handed to him. So the question as free will comes into it is, what is his choice? What does he get to decide for himself? When you're born as the son of Satan, it's kind of like if you look at it like royalty, if you look at it as he's Claire Foy in The Crown, you know? What role, what agency do you have? What path do you get to choose to follow when you're born into something like that? And that's something that I always keep in mind with Langdon, is what is his struggle with his purpose? And when does he stand it, when does he reject it? When does the circumstances of his life force him to move into his purpose? And that's something that we're exploring and that we're going to see.
I think it's interesting that Langdon's had these two mother figures in the Satanic Mead and the Christian Constance. How much of who Langdon is has been influenced by these two very different women?
Fern: I think post-apocalypse he's been influenced by three women: It's Constance, it's Mead and it's Cordelia. So Langdon is very drawn to maternal figures. ... Stereotypically, he doesn't have a man in his life to guide him. He's Satan's son, so they're not sitting down and drinking cups of tea. Whereas the women in his life are shaping and molding and guiding. And we'll certainly see his interactions with Constance and what they have been, but what we know of Mead, that Mead is a Satanist, that Mead is trying to bring him to fulfill his destiny. So he loves Mead very, very, very much; she's also pushing him further towards who he needs to be. So if there had been someone who had given Michael more free range to choose who he wanted to be, would Michael be the man he is? If Cordelia provided more guidance or if she was less antagonistic?
Because here's the thing: People project what they feel about Michael onto Michael. Everyone is projecting onto Michael. Everyone. The warlocks are projecting onto Michael that he's going to be their Alpha and help them to overthrow the witches. The witches are projecting onto Michael that he's evil and needs to be brought down. Mead is projecting onto Langdon that he is the Antichrist and he's going to bring about the end of times. So who is Langdon? Who does Langdon get to be? Where's his agency? What about his voice? So that's really something that we're going to be exploring throughout the rest of the season and that you should think about when you go back and watch Episodes 1, 2 and 3 — how he moves, how he talks, how he is with people are really influenced by those three women: Constance, Cordelia and Mead. And all those three women are built into Langdon's performance.
Next week is the episode where we get to see Constance return to the Murder House. Is there anything you can tease about Constance and Michael's dynamic when he was growing up?
Fern: Uh, no. I can say that working with Jessica Lange has been one of the most incredible joys of my life. Every day on set was a crying moment, as in terms of just watching her work and pinching myself and wondering how I got here and how much longer can I stay here please? But what I can tease is that Sarah [Paulson] has an incredible eye as a director. And she really knows how to bring out performances in actors that maybe they didn't even know lived inside of themselves. It's going to be high emotions. It's going to be incredibly compelling. We're going to find out a lot about Michael Langdon. And I'm thrilled about that. That's what I can tell you.
What's it been like getting to play Langdon throughout these different time periods in his life? How did you view each age of Langdon differently than the others?
Fern: First of all, what's really important for me, and has always been, is working very closely with the writers in mapping Langdon's journey, in not showing something too soon in one episode that we're going to see in another and in really marking both his physical appearance and growth and his emotional growth. When somebody is growing incredibly, supernaturally fast, does that mean that emotionally they're growing that fast? Or are his emotions still volatile and out of control? And when is he learning to gain control of them and what does that mean? And what does it mean when magic comes into the equation?
So he's wrestling at different points in time with different parts of himself. Whereas when we see him in the post-apocalyptic world, that is the full, realized version of the Antichrist. That is the Antichrist incarnate. So to go from that backwards and figure out how he got to there, there are so many different stages that he needs to go through. And that even includes marking things within the episode. For example, when he wakes up from bringing Misty back, we see that he's actually very depleted, that this was a difficult thing for him to do, that maybe he was a little bit afraid himself. And then when Misty sees Langdon and you can tell that she understands something about him and she understands that she sees that about him, a moment of, "You told me that this was a test. I took the Seven Wonders, I passed them, I brought her back. Give me what's rightfully mine."
So even within that scene, we see a shift in Langdon, that he moves from the angelic, vulnerable, "I need help" boy to "give me what I want." So there's one evolution. Then the next evolution, even within that episode, small within the episode, Stevie Nicks, the White Witch, is singing and whatnot and Langdon is standing up on the balcony in his rightful place as the new Supreme and he is not happy and he is no longer trying to project that he is. He is claiming who he is as a person and is not afraid for people to see it. So marking those sorts of moments in each scene and each script, how does he get to being the person that he is in the post-apocalypse is really important and also physically and vocally, watch how Langdon moves in Episodes 1, 2 and 3 and how he moves in Episodes 4 and 5 and 6. And [Episode] 6 is another thing entirely, because he's younger again, so you see his voice is higher, as a teenager it breaks. At the Outpost, he's very smooth, he's very controlled, he's very sexual, he understands what he wants. Nothing in the post-apocalyptic world is gratuitous. It's all directed and specific physical moments, it's economic. Whereas when he's a teenager, it's more off the wall.
The one time in the Outpost that Langdon seems to lose that sense of control is in his interaction with Mallory, when he appears to get a bit spooked. What is it about Mallory that is so troubling to Langdon?
Fern: I cannot [say everything], but I can say this, is that when that interaction spooks him, what we see obviously is that Mallory has an extraordinary amount of power. And we've come to find out that she's a witch. And you see the ceremony in which Langdon is cutting himself and he's praying for Satan and he says I thought I killed them all, but one survived. So we should come to understand in that, if you really look closely, that Langdon has killed all the witches or thinks he has killed all the witches and that what matters to him is the witches. That's what's implicit in that line, you see? So that's going to become very important, just hold on to that.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on FX.