Fans seem to agree: American Horror Story’s Michael Langdon, played expertly by Cody Fern, is TV’s sexiest Antichrist. That may be a relatively small category, but there’s no denying Langdon’s allure. When we got the chance to speak with Fern about the role, we couldn’t help but ask him: How does it feel to be anointed as a sex symbol?
“Oh, I don’t know what to think about that,” he said, chuckling. “I don’t have a Twitter, but I do find–people have read things out to me, and I do find them alarming and funny and generous. I can’t think about that stuff, you know, because I’m just doing what I’m doing, and how people are receiving it is how they’re receiving it.”
However, Fern admitted that he “built a lot of sexuality into Langdon.” He said he and Sarah Paulson, who plays three different characters and also directed an episode this season, discovered that side of his character together.
“We found Langdon’s temptation in that scene when she goes to kiss Langdon,” he said. That was also the first scene he shot as the character. “This woman who has clearly no intimacy in her life, whose body is broken and fractured and whose soul is wavering between the real world and the dark places, and she reaches out to kiss Langdon, and he tells her she’s not getting into the Sanctuary–I mean, that was a very powerful moment for me on set, to understand that, wow, Langdon can twist anybody. I wanted to build that into every scene in the outpost.”
From that point forward, he made sure that side of Langdon was evident in every scene, even the darkest points in the story. “The way that he enters a room is creating desire in people,” Fern said. “When Venable is waiting for Langdon to come, everybody’s sitting in a library, and Langdon enters–he enters, he doesn’t look at anybody but Venable. He circles around the entire room, he takes the position, and everything is sexual. The way that he has her move out of the way. The way he begins his conversation. The way that he sees a massacre–it’s a sexy thing, that you can take this pill and you’ll die.”
Langdon’s look, with his red eyeshadow and flowing, golden hair, adds to his mystique. Fern said the hair was the first thing AHS creator Ryan Murphy told him about the character, who was first introduced as a demonic baby way back in American Horror Story Season 1.
“I didn’t know that I was playing Michael Langdon until two days before we started filming, and I didn’t have the first script until two days before,” Fern said. “The only thing that Ryan had told me about the character was that he was going to have long, flowing, Dorian Gray hair. But as soon as I put that wig on, I knew who Langdon was.”
Beyond the hair, Fern said he can take only partial credit for the rest of Langdon’s distinctive look. “I worked closely with Lou Eyrich, who’s just the most phenomenal costume designer, and with Eryn Mekash, the head of makeup, and Michelle [Ceglia], who’s the head of hair,” he said. “We all had long conversations about how Langdon should look.” The red eyeshadow was Fern’s insistence, and it’s another aspect of the character’s appearance he was excited about.
“In terms of his sexual nature, he needs to be very liquid in everything that he does,” Fern described. “He needs to straddle the fence between what is considered feminine and what is considered masculine, between how he dresses and how he presents himself. I don’t see the Antichrist as being–he doesn’t have a sexual orientation. He is the embodiment of something sexual, so whatever that is in a person, whatever their deepest desire is, he’ll draw out.”
It certainly doesn’t hurt his appeal that Michael Langdon is so deliciously evil–or is he? Langdon seems to be the villain of Apocalypse, maybe even the cause of the end of the world–but Fern disputes the idea that he’s evil.
“I don’t think that Langdon is evil. I think that Langdon is righteous,” Fern said. “He understands that people are lying about who they are, and that everybody is keeping up this facade of being good and wholesome, but deep down, they want to do dark things. And he just brings that out in them. So he’s the light that illuminates the dark. That’s how I see Langdon…He doesn’t see that he’s destroying the world. He sees his role as one of creation–of creating a new world.”
No doubt many AHS fans would be happy to live in that world, as long as it meant being close to our favorite new demonic sex symbol.
American Horror Story Apocalypse airs Wednesdays on FX.