The Australian actor says it was 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' after allegations against Spacey emerged last year.
As Fern told ET, he had just an independent film and an a supporting role on American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace under his belt before landing the role of Duncan Sheperd on the Netflix series. “I’m not used to the twists and turns,” he confessed of House of Cards’ massive restructuring after its star, Kevin Spacey, was fired last fall. “It was out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
“It was a difficult period of time,” Fern recalled. “I was incredibly excited. I just signed onto a TV show which I had been watching longer than I had been acting, and one that I so loved. We were all in Baltimore filming, and then I think it was over the weekend that we found out.”
Spacey’s exit from the series last November came swiftly after he was accused of sexual assault by actor Anthony Rapp and other men. He denied the allegations, and Netflix halted production on House of Cards, but soon after, several members of the show’s staff came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct. By December, Netflix revealed that the show would move forward -- without Spacey.
Fern called the situation “challenging and exciting.”
“I don't mean that in terms of what was happening with Kevin Spacey, by no means or form is that an exciting thing,” he shared. “For me, it was all a learning experience as it was going along, and I was just trying to roll with the punches, to be honest. You know, truly, the reason why I stayed with House of Cards is because I was excited about standing behind Robin.”
“Oh yeah. You always have a choice, of course,” he replied when asked if he and the cast had an option to leave the series after the Spacey scandal. “I think you always have a choice, at the end of the day. Of course, there are a bunch of technicalities going on behind the scenes. But… I was very excited to work with Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear and with Robin Wright.”
The Australian actor plays the son of Lane’s character, Annette Sheperd, on the show, and the nephew of Kinnear’s Bill Sheperd. While Fern confessed that their “trajectory” had been altered following script re-writes, the family still has big stakes in the private sector, with a history of pulling political strings in their direction -- and a complicated past with the Underwoods. With Wright’s character, Claire Underwood, in the White House following her husband, Frank’s (Spacey), resignation, Fern teased the season will follow a bit of a “gender war.” But it’s clear where his allegiances lie.
“I love Robin Wright so much. She's one of my favorite actresses, she's incredibly powerful. To be in the same room as Claire Underwood is like a dream come true,” he raved. “To me, the show had always been about Robin, to be honest. After season two, you're like, 'OK, who's the interesting character here?' That’s just my opinion. She's more three dimensional.”
House of Cards is now streaming on Netflix.