Anansi, Anubis, an angry little leprechaun and an ex-con stuck in the middle, oh my! How Orlando Jones is most like his character, the reasons behind Mad Sweeney’s jealously of Shadow and why the fans are responsible for Ricky Whittle landing the lead role!
American Gods is one of the most anticipated series of the year, written by one master Neil Gaiman, and adapted by two others, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. Led by a trinity of fearless leaders, is a cast that can not only rack up quite a number of awards and nominations but a tidal wave of love from the fans.
Love and appreciation for the fans was not the only feeling in the air on the black carpet on Sunset Boulevard for the premiere of the pilot. The cast has an enormous love for each other as well. Chris Obi, recognizable from his roles in Snow White and the Huntsman and Ghost in the Shell, portrays Anubis or Mr. Jacquel, one of the Old Gods. An English actor of African descent, he had nothing but praise for the performance of fellow castmate Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy or Anansi, one of the most important beings from West African folklore. He says, “His god is where I am from in Africa. My dad grew me up on stories about Anansi. And he does a scene in episode two which is just mindblowing…and they are speaking my mother tongue and it’s just too much. What he does is electrifying.”
“I think he’s fantastic. Ian McShane said this, that he has the hardest job, he really does. We live through his character and he does a beautiful performance.” – Chris Obi on Ricky Whittle
Orlando Jones, known for Sleepy Hollow, had nothing but love for the whole #GodSquad. But there was one particular person he decided to single out after we asked who on the cast embodied their character the most. “Bilquis.” Nigerian-born actress Yetide Badaki portrays Bilquis, also known as the Queen of Sheba. “She’s so beautiful it’s not fair. You say hello to her and you find yourself slipping and you know, you ain’t paying attention…you’ll be gone. I’ve seen many a dude disappear in her eyes. I’m telling you the truth.”
It’s no surprise that Ricky Whittle professed his love and thanks to all the fans. After he, in fact, spent some time signing autographs and taking pictures with fans off the black carpet, he shares, “I owe this all to the fans. They hashtagged me when Starz was on the search for casting Shadow. So I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. It popped up on my feed, I spoke to my reps and then the crazy audition process ensued.” It’s no wonder this model turned actor has such huge support from the fans.
This series is about a war between the Old Gods and the New. We got to spend some time with three of them as they shared just a few secrets with us about the upcoming season. Pablo Schreiber, known for Orange is the New Black, portrays Mad Sweeney, a leprechaun, and ally of the Old Gods. Schreiber clued us in that Mad Sweeney not only isn’t the kind of leprechaun we are familiar with but actually jealous of Shadow Moon. He says, “Yeah, of course, there’s jealousy because he’s essentially being replaced as Mr. Wednesday’s enforcer. And I think there’s a lot of questioning as to why he’s being replaced by that thing.” Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) hires Shadow to be his new driver and muscle. This doesn’t sit well with Sweeney, and at times he gets violent about it. But this mad Irishman isn’t just in it for the fight. Schreiber explains, “I think he wants a seat at the table. He wants to be included in the pantheon of Old Gods.”
“He’s never quite made it to full god status and he would like to have a seat at the table. That’s his biggest connection to Mr. Wednesday, but getting an opportunity to hurt people and getting hurt in return certainly does it for him.” – Pablo Schreiber on Mad Sweeney
Other than sharing their love for their cast members in the #GodSquad, Orlando Jones and Chris Obi teased us a little about their own characters. Mr. Nancy/Anansi (Jones) has quite an intense introduction to the series. When asked what inspired the emotions for that scene he says, “Consideration for the audience is an important component for that particular speech. And for the position they are in and what they are about to face. And how fearful that must be. So we’re trying to bring that to life in vivid color.” But that is not all. Every god in the series requires and asks for a different type of worship. When it comes to Anansi “He wants people to get angry. You are being activated. You make the choice, I make suggestions. But it’s about the activation, it’s about understanding what’s transpired. Activating the emotion, aim to get shit done. That’s Anansi. And however he has to use the tale or spin the story to achieve his ends, that’s what he does. Who knows if it’s for good or evil or what it’s for.”
If Anansi is one extreme, Anubis is definitely the other. He may be a God of Death but he also respects humanity more than any other god in the series that we have seen so far. Chris Obi (Anubis) shares that “He cares about the process, when you’ve died, there’s a right way to die and there’s a ritual and you have choices, and if you’ve been faithful, if you’ve been kind then you go to a certain place. He’s very old school when it comes to that. And he has good manners. And what I tried to invue in this character was not to make him human but make Anubis in a human form and there’s also something quite final about him.”
What did we learn about American Gods at the Los Angeles premiere? That everybody wants to be a member of the #GodSquad.
So make sure you mark your calendars for American Gods and don’t miss the most anticipated series premiere of the year on April 30th on Starz!
Photo credit: Starz