Which scene did Yetide Bedaki audition with, and which episode did that Viking scene originally open? This and more in our American Gods episode 1 fun facts!
We talked with the cast and creative team of American Gods at roundtable interviews, and as Michael Green said: “The show is so fucking weird and people are so uncertain how to approach it that the first half of the first episode you’re kind of like squinting and leaning back in your chair not sure how to take any of it.” Spot on, Michael! If you watched the premiere of American Gods on Starz (and if you didn’t, you need to get on it) we’ve got a some details for you on filming!
From Jack’s Crocodile Bar to Technical Boy’s limo, auditioning for a sex Goddess to a opening switcheroo, we heard from Michael Green, Pablo Schreiber, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Neil Gaiman & Bryan Fuller for dirt on episode one.
1. The scene in the Crocodile Bar was both the first thing they shot, and the last thing.
According to Pablo Schreiber, the scene in Jack’s Crocodile Bar and the amazing fight afterwards was the first thing they shot for the series. But Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are perfectionists, so when the set wasn’t quite right, the redid it and re-filmed the entire sequence again at the end of the shooting schedule. “They looked at the scene and they looked at the fight and just felt like it was too colorful and gaudy and the the set didn’t work and so they shot it again, but that was a real blessing in disguise because we had all been working on the show for five or six months, we were all like five or six months into our characters, so much more invested in who we were and knew who we were. And so I saw the original scene and the fight that we shot and then the second version, and it’s like night and day. Totally not even the same show, it’s crazy.” McShane also talked about the bar reshoots, “We went back and reshot the bar because it wasn’t the right bar.” And finding the right bar was incredibly important for establishing a show like American Gods.
2. That Bilquis scene?! Yeah. That was Yetide’s audition scene.
But the great thing about Yetide was she didn’t shy away from it. “I realized it was because I had to make that journey, I had to ask myself: What does sensuality, what does intimacy- all of these questions that I had maybe myself shied away from a little bit and with this role you can’t shy away from it, you have to dive right in. Yes. I said it. And I was just so joyful at how empowering it was.” Yetide has been thrilled at the response she’s been getting- mostly from women- on how excited they are for the scene to happen so that it can be a conversation on sex, sexuality, and owning sex. She did have to tell her friends to stay off of her browser for a while, though. Come on, Yetide- Haven’t you heard of private browsing?
But Yetide says there’s power associated with sex. No matter where she began her research, she kept being brought back to ancient creation myths and how much power there is in them for women. “And you could see systematically through different cultures the moment where a party came in and removed the woman from agency in their sexuality and you also saw in that moment them being removed from any decision making in general.” Well Bilquis is certainly trying to take back that power!
3. It took a lot of tries to get Bilquis’ look in her infamous scene.
Bilquis is a QUEEN, y’all. And it’s kind of incredible how not made up she looked in that scene. Yetide Bedaki is pretty gorgeous, so it must’ve been tough to get her to look so… regular. But just how tough? “Believe it or not, it took us a lot of iterations to get that look! Because she’s gotta look worn, but she’s on a date so she’s trying to impress,” says Bedaki. They had to try and try again. “At one point we had a speckle spray, we did several layers of that, and he [Colin Penman, head of the makeup department] made me up over that.” Bilquis is literally malnourished from the lack of love in her life, and afterwards she glows.
And not only Bilquis’ look – but her boudoir, with the “liver colored walls” – was perfectly realized by the creative team.
The creative team agreed that there needed to be much more presence for women. Fuller said, “I think we both knew that the ladies needed more focus in the show than they have in the book and so we knew that we needed to expand more and we knew we needed to expand Bilquis.”
4. Pablo Schreiber “made it look cool”
“The nitty gritty of shooting a scene where you’re pulling coins out of the air is that it’s a bit of a leap of faith.” Pablo was hoping there’d be some ground rules to how he was supposed to do that, but no dice! Whenever he asked, the creatives told him, “I don’t know, just do something! Make it look cool!” All of Schreiber’s coins in that scene were CGI. In fact, Ricky Whittle confessed after the interviews that he actually learned the coin trick before he discovered that everyone’s would be CGI! But either way, they look pretty great. And Gaiman loves them as well: “Watching Pablo pulling coins from the air, I’m as much a member of the audience as anybody watching it you know. ‘How did you do that? …With panache.’”
Bryan Fuller said, “We also wanted to expand Mad Sweeney and there are so many great characters in the novel and not all of them have the same stage to shine as Shadow and Wednesday did. So we wanted to make sure that we provide them that stage.”
5. Technical Boy’s limo was a technical marvel
Bruce Langley’s limo scene was fun to work on because the massive telescoping set was purpose built, on two steel and wood tracks with two operators on either side moving forward and backward. Visual effects were added on for something the cast and creators called “God flesh” – and as Langley told us, each character’s “god flesh” was completely unique to them. “How we looked, and how we imagined it to be, has been universally and consistently blown out of the water in quality by how the final product actually looks.”
6. The show didn’t originally open with Vikings.
Apparently, to Fuller and Green, the show “talked back” during the editing process. The Viking sequence was supposed to open episode three, and the scene which opens episode three was supposed to open the pilot. (There were also switches to the openings of episodes two and four). Green said of his Vikings opening: “It seemed to be became like a war cry for what this show was about.”
So, did you love episode one like we did? We can’t wait to be back here next week for more details, this time on episode two! Stay tuned!