American Gods came to television with high expectations. Based on Neil Gaiman's beloved novel, with Gaiman himself on board as an executive producer, alongside Michael Green and Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller, people had every expectation that they were in for a remarkable piece of entertainment. They weren't disappointed; over the course of its first season, American Gods was a surreal, visually stunning treat that expanded on the book in really interesting ways.
At New York Comic Con, Screen Rant caught up with three of the actors on American Gods: Ricky Whittle, who plays main character Shadow Moon; Pablo Schreiber, who plays the leprechaun Mad Sweeney; and Yetide Badaki, who plays Bilquis, the Ethiopian goddess of love. They talked about the unique opportunity the show has to build out the world of the book, and what they love most about their characters and being on the show.
Obviously, the book is its own medium and television is its own medium and you can’t stay strictly to the same medium and make it an exact translation. Is there anything from the books that you would want to translate to your characters that maybe not so much is happening now?
Pablo Schreiber: Well, uh there’s one scene in the book that happens with my character that I’m really hoping they don’t do. [Laughs] It’s a real sad moment under a bridge. No spoilers here. We’ll see. For me, the whole arc of this show and this character is heading inexorably to this terrible moment. Hopefully, they’ll decide at the last minute not to do.
Oh it’s coming though. I think it’s coming. How about you [Ricky]?
Ricky Whittle: I think that would be a great cliffhanger for season 7. Season 7 maybe we’ll get there. No, I mean, the great thing about this is they’re two very different kinds of mediums and it’s great that they are their own animals. Everything you love about the book is going to be in the show, but like with Pablo’s character, Matt Sweeney’s only in the book twice, but we’ve got Pablo Schreiber here. One of the great actors who’s bringing his character to life. Bringing him off the page, and we’re using him to the point where he’s got his own spin-off, his own standalone episode. And we’re able to flesh out all of these characters and move away from the book where it just follows Shadow Moon’s story. Mr. Wednesday’s there and Mr. Nancy and everyone kind of comes into that journey of his whereas now we’re able to branch off and see what Matt Sweeney’s doing with Laura. We’re able to see Mr. Nancy, Tech Boy, Media. All of these different characters and really flesh out what’s already in the book. It’s a great blueprint for a story and now we really embellish and really flesh out this story, so if anything, it’s very rare, but I feel the show is going to really succeed and maybe even go one up on the book, because Neil’s involved from the beginning. It’s not like we’re going alone on this, he’s apart of everything. So, all of these ideas, yes, it’s Bryan and Michael, and it’s fantastic, but Neil’s involved as well. We’re basically giving you the book and so much more. It’s very rare and very excited to see what comes up.
Yetide Badaki: You know, it’s interesting because we have a whole other season and there’s a lot of time to develop this character. The one thing Bryan and Michael have always said is that’s there’s something you’ve seen or loved in the book, you will see it on the screen. So, with this group, I know we’re going to get to go on an incredible journey with Bliquis.
One thing a lot of fans love is your character’s a hit. Were you surprised at the reaction of your character?
Pablo Schreiber: No. I wasn’t at all. When I saw the scripts, I thought the writing of it was spot on. I think Michael and Bryan created something really interesting with that guy, and I pretty much felt like it was gonna… people were really going to enjoy it. Also, you know the show is… it can be heavy and there’s a lot of drama in it. There’s a lot of material that’s dark and he’s one opportunity you get to laugh and lighten it up and to see him get beat up by every character on the show especially with Laura, the one who’s half his size. It’s just an enjoyable character and I had a feeling that people were going to like him and like watching him. It’s nice because they did.
You had one of the most incredible intros to a show, ever! I would say. Were you always on board with that, or did you have any hesitation at all?
Yetide Badaki: Well, first off I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan. So, I read the book in 2001.
Yetide Badaki: Yeah! So I had fifteen years to think about that character. Not knowing I’d get to play with it later. But it definitely resonated back then when I read it in 2001. Now, you send me an audition sheet that says it’s getting made and Neil Gaiman is the Executive Producer. Bryan Fuller. Michael Green. Which we all know Bryan Fuller from Hannibal, Pushing Daisies. All of this brilliant TV, and Michael Green, who is having quite the year. By the way, go see Blade Runner and he’s done Logan and Murder On The Orient Express and these are all individuals who have beautiful minds that are incredible artist and so, they took away any idea of hesitation about jumping onboard with this project, because I knew they took care of things with deep thought. I knew that it was a place that we could really explore something interesting.
If you had to sum up next season of American Gods with a hashtag what would it be?
Yetide Badaki: #BlowsYourSocksOff.
Pablo Schreiber: [Laughs] #HouseOnTheRock
You should have let him go first because now you have to one-up him.
Ricky Whittle: Did you say #HouseOnTheRock? #StormsComing
Ricky Whittle: No, no. #WarIsComing
The critically acclaimed Starz fantasy series “American Gods” Season One, produced by FremantleMedia North America, arrives on Digital HD October 6 and Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD October 17 from Lionsgate. From writer-producers Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal”) and Michael Green (“Heroes”) and based on Neil Gaiman’s international best-selling novel, “American Gods” Season One is a visual feast focusing on an ex-convict named Shadow Moon, and his sudden introduction into a power struggle between the Old and New Gods. “American Gods” Season One stars Ricky Whittle (“The 100”), Ian McShane (John Wick: Chapter 2, “Game of Thrones”), Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events), Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, “Orange Is the New Black”), Peter Stormare (John Wick: Chapter 2, Fargo), and pop culture icon Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files,” “Hannibal”).
When Shadow Moon is released from prison, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday and a storm begins to brew. Little does Shadow know, this storm will change the course of his entire life. Left adrift by the recent, tragic death of his wife, and suddenly hired as Mr. Wednesday’s bodyguard, Shadow finds himself in the center of a world that he struggles to understand. It’s a hidden world where magic is real, where the Old Gods fear both irrelevance and the growing power of the New Gods, like Technology and Media. Mr. Wednesday seeks to build a coalition of Old Gods to defend their existence in this new America, and reclaim some of the influence that they’ve lost. As Shadow travels across the country with Mr. Wednesday, he struggles to accept this new reality, and his place in it.
The home entertainment release of “American Gods” Season One features over two hours of exclusive extras including “The Road to ‘American Gods’” documentary, six behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary on the premiere and season finale episodes, God Squad Video Commentary, and an opportunity to explore the Crocodile Bar in 360 degrees. “American Gods” Season One will be available on Blu-ray and DVD for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and $34.98, respectively.