American Gods might be a US production, but get a load of the British and international cast, which includes Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, and Gillian Anderson.
As a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s works, I am amongst the countless readers who’ve devoured his bestselling, multiple award-winning fantasy novel, American Gods (translated into more than 30 languages), and can’t wait for the first-ever television adaptation of it to arrive on telly.
Story-wise, there’s a war brewing between the old gods and the new ones. The former — traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world — have been steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of deities that reflect modern society’s love of money, technology, media, celebrity, and drugs.
In two moves of brilliant casting (for their acting chops, of course, but also because they look pretty darn close to how I imagined the characters), American Gods stars Brits Ricky Whittle (The 100, Austenland, Hollyoaks — pictured above left) as ex-con Shadow Moon and Ian McShane (Doctor Thorne, The Pillars of the Earth, Lovejoy) as Mr. Wednesday.
When Shadow agrees to become the bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, he doesn’t realize the older conman is actually one of the older gods, now on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
Another coup, as it were, is the casting of Gillian Anderson (The Fall, The X-Files, Hannibal), who will play Media. As her name implies, Media is the PR guru for the New Gods — serving as their mouthpiece, public face, and sales rep by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to their screens, from laptops and TVs, to the iPhones in their hands while they watch their larger-screened TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, Media spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.
The actors who most recently joined the American Gods cast are Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow, Seconds Apart) and Demore Barnes (12 Monkeys, The Unit). Jones will play Mr. Nancy, the old African trickster god better known as Anansi, who’s one of Mr. Wednesday’s oldest confidantes. Like Wednesday, Nancy is ready to both bring this new America (and its new gods) to its knees and to light a fire and watch the whole world burn. Barnes will play Mr. Ibis, the keeper of stories past and present, who recounts them with great relish. His old-fashioned sensibilities do not preclude a wry wit.
Additional cast members include Aussie actress Emily Browning (Legend) as Laura Moon, Shadow Moon’s wife; Canadian actor Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black) as Mad Sweeney, the king from Irish lore; Nigerian actress Yetide Badaki (Cardinal X) as Bilquis, aka the Queen of Sheba, who devours men as only a woman can; Bruce Langley (Deadly Waters) as Technical Boy, a new god of (what else) computers and the Internet; Crispin Glover (Back to the Future) as Mr. World, who leads the coalition of new gods; Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom) as Low Key Lyesmith, Shadow’s confidante in prison; Swedish actor Peter Stormare (Fargo) as Czernobog, the Slavic god of darkness; and Cloris Leachman (Raising Hope) as Zorya Vechernyaya, who represents the Evening Star in the old god camp.
Produced by FremantleMedia North America (FMNA), American Gods is written by showrunners Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, Heroes) and Michael Green (The River, Kings, Smallville), and directed by David Slade (Hannibal, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse). FMNA’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk are executive producing the series along with Fuller, Green, Slade, and Neil Gaiman. Senior Vice Presidents of Original Programming Marta Fernandez and Ken Segna are the Starz executives in charge of American Gods.
Production on American Gods is currently underway. The series set to premiere in 2017 on Starz, which retains all network, pay TV, and SVoD rights to the project. FremantleMedia is distributing the series worldwide.