American Gods, the Starz TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's acclaimed fantasy novel, is finally returning for season 2 on March 10 (and releasing March 11 on Amazon Prime Video for Canadian and international fans), so Screen Rant spoke to stars Ricky Whittle and Pablo Schreiber to get caught up on where their characters are - and where they're going next.
In season 1, Shadow Moon (Whittle) was released from his prison sentence to some devastating news: his wife, Laura (Emily Browning) had been killed in a car accident while cheating on him with his best friend. With the life that he'd planned to return to gone, Shadow was left without a clear path ahead - that is, until he met a mysterious stranger calling himself Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane). Hired as a bodyguard for Wednesday, Shadow discovered that all of the old gods that America's various immigrants over thousands of years had brought to its shores are still hanging around, though their powers are diminished due to a lack of worshipers. Moreover, new gods like Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) and Mr. World (Crispin Glover) have emerged, and there's a war brewing between the old gods and the new.
Related: American Gods Season 2 Trailer
On his journey with Wednesday, Shadow was introduced to Mad Sweeney (Schreiber), a leprechaun with a special lucky gold coin that he accidentally handed over to Shadow. That lucky coin ended up being thrown on Laura's grave, reviving her as an extremely strong walking corpse, who is determined to get back to her man. So, what lies ahead for this weird collection of characters in American Gods season 2?
- This Page: The House on the Rock and Shadow's Season 2 Journey
- Page 2: Pablo Schreiber On Mad Sweeney's Hate-Hate Relationship With Laura
- Page 3: How American Gods Season 2 Will Differ From the Book
Let's start with the basics. At the start of the season, Shadow, Wednesday, Sweeney, and Laura are all traveling in a car together. Where are they going, and why are they going there?
Pablo Schreiber: They're going to House on the Rock, and they're going there because Wednesday is gathering all of the old gods together to have a tête-à-tête about trying to get them all on the same page as far as starting a war with the new gods.
I wasn't aware until after watching the episode that the House on the Rock is actually a real place. I was very impressed by the set design, and then I found out it was really filmed there!
Ricky Whittle: Yeah, that was incredible, we actually went out to Wisconsin at the very beginning of the shoot. Even when I was walking around I'm literally looking at it, and I'm thinking to myself, it feels like someone just created this for an insane, wacky movie or a TV show, but this is a genuine establishment. It's an incredible sight to behold, and every room you enter it just gets stranger and stranger. It's an incredible find by Neil Gaiman when he was on his travels, obviously to include it in his book, and so we've brought it onto the show. It really does have the feel of American Gods, of mystique and magic, and that little bit of strange.
We didn't actually do it justice. As wild and wacky as it looks on screen, being there in the flesh is actually even stranger, so I advise anyone rolling through Wisconsin to maybe pop in and have your mind blown.
What was the strangest thing you saw in there?
Whittle: I couldn't even say, there's so much. The most striking is a life-size blue whale being attacked by a giant squid in this huge warehouse, and it's literally the whole warehouse, and it's the chicken and the egg, you know? Which came first? Did they bring that from somewhere and then build the warehouse around it, or did they have the warehouse and build this whale inside? It's huge, it's phenomenal, it's mind-blowing, to the point that you can't even take a picture of the whole thing because it doesn't fit on your camera. It really is an incredible sight.
So there's this war that Mr. Wednesday is trying to plan, and what's interesting is that Shadow, in the first episode, you see how invested he is in this war, even though he's not - as far as he knows - anything to do with the old gods or the new gods. So what do you think is driving him to go to war for Mr. Wednesday?
Whittle: His whole journey throughout the first season was cynic to believer. He's an intelligent man and an intelligent person's always going to go towards a logical answer, when faced with all this magic of gods and leprechauns and dead wives in the first season. So now that he believes, I think he just wants answers, he wants to understand. And so I feel his investment comes from the fact that he just wants to know what the stakes are, what this war is, who everyone is, and what his part in this puzzle is all about. So I think it's curiosity; once he starts something he wants to get to the end of it.
Obviously it's about perception, there's no good guys and bad guys, it depends on what your point of view is. I feel that if Wednesday hadn't got his hands on him first, and maybe Tech Boy or Mr. World had, maybe we'd be looking at it from a completely different angle. So I think he's just intrigued to see where this goes, and he's following Mr. Wednesday around like a little puppy and just wants to learn. But friction will begin, this season, between the pair, because [Shadow] wants answers and Wednesday's reluctant to give them and acknowledge his power on the show, and that's going to cause a little bit of frustration between the two. And if Shadow can't get answers from Wednesday, he's going to go and find them himself elsewhere.
In the second episode of season 2 we get to see Shadow's backstory and some of the formative events from his early life. How does that episode, and what we see from his teenage years, inform the choices he makes in season 2?
Whittle: Well, you can see he likes to swing! He likes fighting. But he likes fighting for others, for those who can't. So you kind of see where his light came from. Shadow is basically the universal punchbag, physically and emotionally, is attacked from all angles by new and old gods, but he constantly gets up and keeps moving forward with his hope that it will be OK and his willingness to move to the next day. And you see the love that he lost in his life. He grew up without a father, his mother was his everything, and so he's really truly experienced love and something pure. And so when she died, and we first meet Shadow in season 1, you can kind of see how far he's fallen, and how he's just empty and devoid of any emotion and love - which left him vulnerable for Mr. Wednesday. So in season 2 it's nice to see him kind of add some layers and evolve from that kind of character, who was vulnerable and emotionless, and heading back more towards the young Shadow that we see in episode 2.