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Lady in the Lake’s Y’lan Noel Details Ferdie’s Pivotal Presence and Working With Natalie Portman (Exclusive)

Lady in the Lakes Ylan Noel Talks Ferdies Pivotal Presence Working With Natalie Portman and More
Y’lan Noel in “Lady in the Lake.” Apple TV+

When Lady in the Lake premieres on Apple TV+, viewers should keep a close eye on Y’lan Noel‘s role as Ferdie.

During an exclusive interview with Us Weekly, Noel, 35, opened up about bringing Ferdie to life, working with Natalie Portman and having his character be in the middle of multiple crucial story lines.

“For me, it was reading [the scripts] that allowed me to make my own determinations on the character. And I found him to be somebody admirable, to be completely honest. I found him to be a man that wasn’t willing to compromise his values,” Noel recalled. “That was the draw for me in terms of the character.”

Noel specifically highlighted the pivotal presence that Ferdie has in both Maddie (Portman) and Cleo’s (Moses Ingram) lives.

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“Ferdie has to keep both the story lines in the air. He is a bridge because on one end he is very immersed in The Bottom, which is the place where they’re from,” he noted. “His investment [in Cleo] definitely fuels his investment in terms of wanting to rise the ranks at work and also causes some obstacles later on in his relationship with Maddie.”

Lady in the Lakes Ylan Noel Talks Ferdies Pivotal Presence Working With Natalie Portman and More
Y’lan Noel Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Lady in the Lake, which takes place in 1960s Baltimore, is based on Laura Lippman‘s 2019 novel of the same name. According to the synopsis, the seven-episode series is centered on the murder of a young Jewish girl and the disappearance of a Black woman, which inspires Portman’s character, Maddie, to look into the potential connection between the cases.

Noel, meanwhile, plays a Baltimore cop who is driven by his moral compass — and his connection to both Maddie and Cleo.

“In terms of getting into character, it’s something about putting on that police uniform that really sort of brings you there. Looking at myself in the mirror as a cop — especially a Black cop in the 1960s — the level of that was very interesting,” the actor recalled. “Just from walking around on set, you had people that were just talking to you very fluidly when you are in your character’s clothes. They are now talking to you a lot differently when you’re dressed in that cop uniform. So I used it and I was able to use it in a very resourceful way for Ferdie.”

To properly portray the time period, Noel offered to change his real hair for Ferdie’s look — to mixed results.

“I thought I was being smart. I thought I had a genius idea. I said, ‘OK, I’m just going to use my real hair for these sideburns.’ It means I get to spend much more time preparing for the character in the trailer and less time in hair and makeup,” he told Us. “But walking around for seven months in downtown Baltimore with those sideburns forever on my face — I didn’t meet a lot of new friends and people ask questions. So will I do it again? I don’t know. But I’m glad it looked good on Ferdie.”

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Another interesting set highlight for Noel was the opportunity to work with talented people such as Portman, 43, Ingram, 30, and director Alma Har’el.

“I got to give the credit to Alma because we were able to shoot a lot of the scenes [for the season] linearly — we shot in a linear fashion,” he shared about how the filming process helped him get to know his character. “So I was able to go through the arc and the journey that Ferdie would’ve actually gone through.”

With Portman, Noel had nothing but praise for his scene partner. “The conversations with Natalie [about our characters], that in and of itself was like I had to pinch myself a few times. Because I’m such a fan of her work. I’ve been a fan of her work for a very, very long time,” he noted. “And immediately she was just extremely professional. So we spoke like actors do.”

He continued: “She shows by example. She’s somebody who is a consummate professional, and I felt very comfortable being able to make these scenes sing with her as my partner.”

Noel was just as grateful for his collaborative process with Ingram, adding, “I wish I had even more scenes with her because I am just such a big fan. The fact that I’m a big fan of Moses helps a few of the scenes between Ferdie and Cleo. … There’s an energy in her that is both mystic and wise and he reveres her.”

Before Lady in the Lake starts streaming on July 19, Noel highlighted the hard work that went into the project.

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“We want to show up to work every day and give your best shot. And you are working with some of the best in the business. So it’s about just making sure that you raised the bar that’s so high,” he shared. “I think we all did a great job. And Alma is somebody who has a set that allows you to be your best self. I thank her for it because she’s truly a visionary.”

Noel “learned so much” from his time as Ferdie. “I’m really excited for fans to see it because it’s truly a great show — and they’re going to be surprised week to week,” he teased. “It’ll be a fan favorite. I’m just excited for the fans that I have to see me in this and see a different side of me.”

It doesn’t stop there, with Noel also expanding his filmography by voicing Troy Marshall in Call of Duty: Black Ops 6. He gushed over the project to Us while discussing how his past work helped prepare him for the new challenge.

“I did a movie called The First Purge that I was the lead of. And that was the first piece of action I’ve done. It was so intense and so demanding and so much fun,” he said. “So to now fast forward to Call of Duty — which is a huge platform with millions and millions of fans across the globe — to do something that is sort of in that action space is very satisfying.”

Lady in the Lake starts streaming on Apple TV+ July 19, with new episodes releasing on Fridays.

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