Many new series are being previewed here at TCA, but among the most anticipated (and, frankly, confusing for those unfamiliar with the source material) is American Gods, the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Hugo-award-winning novel, which is coming to Starz in 2017. American Gods just had a hugely successful panel at Comic-Con, hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown. But here at TCA, in an unusual turn, no cast members were on stage for the American Gods panel, just the two showrunners, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green.
Like the book, the series focuses on the mysterious Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), a bank robber who is released from prison a few days early to attend the funeral of his wife Laura (Emily Browning) after a car accident. He soon becomes the bodyguard to the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), who leads the old gods in a war against the new American gods of money, technology, media, celebrity, and drugs.
To say that the project is ambitious is to put it mildly. Green stated, “On this project I have heard ‘Don’t fuck it up’ more than any other time, because it is so beloved. It’s rare to come into something that’s so passionately loved by so many people, but we’re two of those people.”
The series will focus on setting up how those gods came to America, adhering closely to the novel. Green praised the source material and its author, who told the showrunners “how the punctuation in the novel can be a guideline because something can happen between it. Every time we come to Neil Gaiman with something, he says ‘Thank you, I love it.’”
Green continued, “Largely, it’s about forgotten myths, forgotten cultures. [Gaiman] figured that the big three were doing good enough, so he focused on the mythologies not doing as well.” Fuller pointed out that he and Green were both raised in religious households—his was Catholic, Green’s Jewish. Green then enthused that the project “discusses religion in an inclusive way that invites us all.”
The cast is a mix of unknowns and better-knows, like Gillian Anderson, who will portray the new god Media. Said Fuller, “I think Gillian knows that if there’s anything I’m doing that she’s remotely interested in, the door is wide open.” While the original novel focused on a lot of the male characters, the new series will “accordion out” a lot of the female ones, like Shadow’s wife. According to Fuller, “Laura is absolutely one of our favorite characters.”
One surprising addition to the cast is Dane Cook, who, unlike Anderson, “did go through the casting process,” said Green. Both producers were enthusiastic about Cook, who Fuller described as “really savvy as an artist, and perceptive of his brand, and how to subvert it in the role.”
Fuller and Green previously worked together on Heroes, and cite getting to work together again as one of the major bonuses of American Gods, as the two have years of playing off one another. Fuller stated, “You need that to work together on the prospective six seasons of this show.” Then the two turned to the exec from their cable channel, still standing at the podium: “Starz?”