American Gods premieres tonight in the UK tonight on Amazon Prime. Earlier this month, our own Jayne Nelson attended the premiere and following Q and A with the cast. Here are some selected highlights of that panel.
For reference the following initials mean the following people:
RW: Ricky Whittle, who plays Shadow Moon
IM: Ian McShane, who plays Mr Wednesday
EB: Emily Browning, who plays Laura Moon,
YB: Yetide Badaki, who plays the goddess Bilquis
BL: Bruce Langley, who plays the god Technical Boy
ON EPISODE ONE
RW: “I’m not sure I speak for everyone but my mind was blown. I did not know what the hell just happened (laughs). That’s kind of the plot of the book and the story so far. We enter the world through Shadow’s eyes and so obviously at the beginning you guys have no idea what’s going on and neither does Shadow. And as Shadow learns what’s going on the audience will learn with him and meet this cast of colourful characters. And there’s more to come in the form of Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover, Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Stormare.”
IM: “Ricky you are really terrific and Ricky I think you have the hardest part. We see through his eyes and Shadow is not a proactive character. One of the great things Neil and Bryan did was bring Emily’s character out who is not in the book. I mean, film needs guns, girls and cars and Emily supplies that.”
IN: “We are going to talk about will be described as THAT scene in a moment.”
RW: “I think it’s one of those moments like in Fatal Attraction where everyone goes scurrying back to their wives and now they’re all like, ‘SOOOOOOOoooo…worship?’”
YB: “First off I must apologise to Ian and his grandson (laughs) [McShane watched the show with his grandson and the Bilquis scene is… memorable]. I was a fan of Neil Gaiman for a while. I’d read the book back in 2001. I remember reading that part and felt this really strong reaction like, ‘…YEAH…’
As soon as I was cast all these women were reaching out to me going ‘…YEAH…’ and that really called out to me. And as the story goes on, we get her origin story and all of this ancient power and this woman or goddess trying to find her way in the modern world.”
ON THE TIMELIENESS OF THE SHOW
RW: “It’s incredible foresight by Neil Gaiman. The novel came out in 2001 and won lots of incredible awards because his writing is so incredible and fluent and he writes these incredible moments you’ll see throughout the season which come straight out of the book. And, of course, we wrapped up in November before Trumpgate and America going a little crazy… so we’ve just been very fortunate that we’ve touched on some relevant subjects.”
EB: “I wouldn’t call it fortunate.” (Laughter)
RW: “We’ve touched on some sensitive topics like immigration, religion, racism, sexism.”
IM: “The series would have been relevant in any time because of what the book deals with. It’s not a procedural, it’s not a cop story or a medical story. It deals with issues of life, love, where we come from, the modern world. And you can’t fight the modern world. And Wednesday wants to fight the modern world but he can’t… It’s about coming to America, immigration faith. What Gaiman’s saying is whatever you faith doesn’t matter as long as you have faith in something otherwise you’ll be a boring old cynic and suffer the frustration of faith. That’s one of the lines isn’t it?”
ON THE EXPANDED ROLE OF LAURA MOON
EB: “Didn’t you see I died? (Laughs) Laura is a pivotal role in the book in the sense that she’s the reason Shadow goes on in this journey in the first place. You don’t get to see much of her story in the book, although it does touch on her… In the book she just kind of came in and out briefly and we didn’t get to see much more of her history. But in episode four of this season we go back to see her before she meets Shadow. We get to know her story and see the story so far from her point of view which is really cool… As Bryan says the book is great but it is kind of a sausage party. (Laughs) It’s really great that they decided they wanted to make the female roles more interesting.”
ON TECHNICAL BOY AND HIS HAIR AND LOOK(S)
BL: “I feel fantastic about the look. You haven’t seen anything yet. He’s addicted to social media so every time you see him he has a completely new look. I got to know the hair and make-up ladies really well.”
EB: “He has a grill at one point.”
BL: “I do have a grill at one point. Watch this space. In terms of what he represents he’s one of the younger gods and one of the ones we all worship without realising it. So quick survey – hands up who has a smart phone?”
[Lots of people raise their hands]
“Thank you for your worship” (Laughter)
ON TECHNICAL BOY’S FIRST DAY. AND MADONNA.
BL: “Yeah the first shot we did we had a camera an inch away from my eye with Ricky just off shot dancing and lipsyncing to Madonna.”
RW: “Madonna IS awesome.”
ON DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BOOK AND THE TV SHOW
IM: “The book’s a blueprint crying out for TV with gifted showrunners like Bryan and Michael. I worked with Michael before on an under-appreciated network show called Kings. Michael’s writing is oblique and Bryan’s is always more fluid, you can always tell, but the show is a great match for these two… The show just takes off in different directions. When Emily was talking about episode four, we’re not in that, it’s the back story. It takes you back to Shadow and Laura. It’s a standalone story. It’s the great thing about shows like this, because they’re on cable anything can happen.
ON THE FIGHT WITH MAD SWEENEY IN EPISODE ONE
RW: “That’s not special effects – HE IS THAT BIG. I’m six feet two in my heels and he towers over me. He’s an incredible force.
“In that fight that you saw there are several head butts and well… he mistimed one of them. He caught me square in the forehead and hit the floor. And as an actor doing the stunts you know there’s not supposed to be contact. So I was like, ‘Wow, you okay buddy?’ And he’s on the floor, so I’m like, ‘Okay stop pissing around… Pablo? Pablo?’ So he stands up and his forehead was literally pouring with blood. He had split his forehead wide open.
“Now I got this from my mum [points to his forehead] – love you mum – and my forehead was solid. Not a scratch…. When I’m hitting him at the end all that blood around his mouth and nose? That was make-up. The slight graze on his forehead? That was me… He’s an incredible performer, an incredible professional, he went to hospital, got his head glued up, came back and finished the scene.”
ON NEIL GAIMAN
BY: “All I could do was shake his hand when they introduced us then turn around and scurry away… It was great working with these wonderful people who were also fans.”
RW: “We had crew signing up because they were such big Neil Gaiman fans.”
EB: “His kindness and willingness to engage with fans is amazing. I’m not particularly a fan of sci-fi and fantasy genuinely but I loved the book and I loved how his voice is humane and empathetic. The way he writes human beings is wonderful… I think what’s amazing about this thanks to Neil, Bryan and Michael is the human connections are just as interesting to watch as the big explosions.”
- American Gods OMG! Character Posters