Dear Hollywood Foreign Press Association,
Today you embark on the first step of the sacred awards season journey, as you sort through the thousands of submissions sent in by hopefuls in the movie and TV industry. With that in mind, please allow me to offer a humble plea for an actor whose work this year in two vastly different projects deserves your special attention: Mr. Cody Fern.
The Golden Globes have a long history of recognizing young talent on the cusp of stardom: Past winners include an out-of-nowhere ingenue named Calista Flockhart for Ally McBeal in 1997; J.J. Abrams protégés Keri Russell (Felicity) in 1998 and Jennifer Garner (Alias) in 2001; and more recently TV’s future-is-female poster women Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Rachel Boom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) in 2014 and 2015, respectively. And in 2018, no actor displayed more household-name potential than Fern. Viewers can currently enjoy his work on American Horror Story and the final season of House of Cards, but the 30-year-old Australian kicked off the year with a devastating performance in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Fern costarred in Versace as David Madson, a successful architect in Minneapolis who became serial killer Andrew Cunanan’s second victim. While the Ryan Murphy-produced limited series earned 18 Emmy nominations and seven wins — including outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor for Darren Criss, who killed it as Cunanan — the Television Academy failed to recognize Fern.
This, ladies and gentlemen of the HFPA, cannot stand.
By all accounts, David Madson was an exceptionally charismatic, affable young man, and Fern brought him to life with a captivating ease. His performance displayed remarkable range, as David falls in love with Andrew, then becomes increasingly suspicious of his extravagant lies. But really, if you watch one episode of Versace, make it “House By the Lake,” in which Andrew forces David go to on the run with him after killing their mutual friend Jeff Trail (Finn Whitrock). Fern’s performance over the course of that 44 minutes — as David grapples with terror, resentment, dread, and the awful realization that he’ll never escape Andrew alive — is nothing short of astonishing. Hell, if you don’t have time to watch the whole episode, just fast-forward to the 50-minute mark, when a trembling David pleads for his life — and be sure to set aside the next 30 minutes to recover.
And after you’re done nominating Fern in the Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for Versace, head over to the Lead Actor column and put his name down again, this time for American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Six months after his spectacular debut in Versace, Fern returned to the Ryan Murphyverse as Michael Langdon, an impetuous, bewildered young man who just happens to be the son of Satan. From his grand entrance — that cape! that wig! that blood-red silk scarf! — to the prostitute-murdering parlor trick this past week, Fern is sensationally entertaining, without sacrificing the scares and gentle sweetness (!) his character requires.
As the voters consider which five actors deserve to hear their names announced with the Golden Globe nominations on December 6, I hope they will remember that only one performer in 2018 transitioned seamlessly from “All-American kid whose death will break your heart” to “cape-wearing Antichrist who will literally eat your heart.” Esteemed members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, I give you Cody Fern.
The Golden Globes will air Sunday, January 9, 2019, on NBC.