(CBS News) Canadian actor Noel Fisher didn't know too much about the infamous feud between two American frontier families until he signed on to be in the History Channel's new miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys."
"They don't teach that in Canadian schools," Fisher told CBSNews.com. "But, as soon as you start to learn about the story, there is tons of drama - it's all pretty Shakespearean."
"Hatfields & McCoys" follows Devil Anse Hatfield, played by Kevin Costner, and Randall McCoy, played by Bill Paxton, close friends and comrades until the end of the Civil War when they return to their neighboring homes - Hatfield in West Virginia and McCoy across the Tug River in Kentucky.
Fisher plays Cotton Top Mounts, the illegitimate son of Ellison Hatfield, who is the brother of Devil Anse Hatfield. Cotton Top is mentally challenged, something the 28-year-old Fisher said he tackled head on.
"I really enjoy getting to play characters that view the world very differently from how I do," he said. "I got to do quite a bit of research and it was really cool to delve into a character like that."
His character, he said, is put in a situation that he is not able to effectively deal with and has too many people making decisions for him.
While Fisher, at the time of the interview hadn't seen the first episode onscreen, he said most of it shows a history between the Hatfields and McCoys that escalates to the tipping point.
"It follows the little things that start to happen between their families, some little, some not so little, all leading up to the end of the episode where some actions are taken that are irreversible," he explained.
The six-hour series stars an ensemble cast mixing veteran actors with newcomers. Fisher described working with Paxton and Costner as "awesome," calling them both "profoundly good role models."
"They are obviously both very good at what they do," said Fisher. "The really interesting thing about both of them is that they've been on both sides of the camera. They've directed as well as acted and they've both done so very successfully."
The sheer number of actors in the miniseries, due to the size of the families and the span of time, also made for a unusual experience on set, according to Fisher.
"It was one of the more communal experiences I've had on a project," he explained. "Basically getting to work with that many people in Romania, where none of us had been before, was a really wonderful experience because we all got to bond. We are very much a family now."
In one of those bonding moments during a car ride back from set, Paxton gave Fisher some career advice. "He said, 'Do projects that you like. Do projects and parts that you are passionate about.'"
Fisher has many projects on his plate, aside from "Hatfields & McCoys." He recently found out his character, Mickey Milkovich, on Showtime's series "Shameless" will be a regular on season three. He also is in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2," which is coming out this November.
"Hatfields & McCoys" premieres Memorial Day, May 28, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the History Channel.