American Gods EPs Discuss Expanding Neil Gaiman's Fantasy World
American Gods is slated for a 2017 premiere date.
By Terri Schwartz Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have Neil Gaiman's blessing for their adaptation of his fantasy novel American Gods, but now they're itching for feedback from fans.
American Gods debuted its first trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, and a little over a week later Green and Fuller presented the series' first Television Critics Association panel in Los Angeles. Though they didn't have more footage to show, the pair did talk about expanding Gaiman's world for the small screen. Fuller also couldn't resist asking critics after the panel how they felt seeing the world brought to life: did they think it is representative of the world Gaiman wrote?
American Gods Official Trailer - Comic-Con 2016
Beyond people being excited they're adapting American Gods, Green said this is a project he's had the most people tell him to not "f**k up." "It's rare to come into something that is passionately loved by so many people, but we are two of those people," he said. He and Fuller found it key to stick to the depiction of Gaiman's characters and expand on the road map he created.
A repeated refrain during the panel was the focus on the show's diversity, though Fuller noted that was something that came straight from the source material. Of the casting of Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon, Fuller said, "It was never really a question of doing otherwise for us. In order to do the book you have to cast the character who was written, which is someone who was not white."
Whenever duo had a question about a character's depiction for the show, they would take it back to Gaiman. In one situation, a character was described as having very dark skin, but Gaiman specified that the character was meant to be Indian, not black. Because of that, Fuller and Green made sure to cast an Indian actor.
"We're not color-blind casting. We're actually very consciously aware of color in the cast and ethnic specificity," said Fuller.
One big shift from page to screen is the expansion of the female characters. Fuller described the novel as a bit of a "sausage party" as it's about "two guys on a road trip," but the series will follow a different structure from the book. Much of American Gods took place within Shadow's head, so Fuller and Green's challenge was figuring out how to convey those ideas to an audience. In switching up American Gods not just being Shadow Moon's story, each episode will open with a god's "coming to America" moment, and then that episode will see that character "enter the narrative in a greater way." It allows the opportunity to explore more characters than the structure of Gaiman's novel.
"We love that structure. It gives us something really fun to build to, and it's really identifiable in a way," said Fuller.
Two characters in particular that the TV show will dive into more are Bilquis and Laura Moon, the latter of which Fuller and Green call "one of our absolute favorites." "That was the character that for us it was fleshed out to a good extent in the novel, and yet we got to pick up that baton and run with it," said Fuller, adding that one episode of Season 1 will work as a pilot for Laura. "We're very excited about telling her tale."
After spending several years working in broadcast with Hannibal, Fuller has found he and Green haven't hit any limitations with what they've been doing on Starz. The duo explained that Starz has only pushed them to tell the best version of their story.
"It's been very encouraging. The only thing we get are reminders to do our best version of the things we discussed with them. There are issues we wanted to get into -- race, gun control, gender issues -- and both Starz and Freemantle have been nothing but encouraging on it," said Green.
That said, the two self-described fans of American Gods are working to make the best adaptation of the story that they can, and working with Gaiman has been a big part of that.
"He's very collaborative," said Fuller. "When Michael and I were crafting the finale of the season, there were certain things where Neil was like, 'I'm uncomfortable going to this point or this point.' Then we had a conversation about how we would get to those points and how we could give him what he wanted but also put in a few of the things that we were driving toward. He's always yes-ing."
"If you loved it in the book, it will show up in the series," said Green. "It's about how can we build it even bigger."
American Gods is slated to premiere on Starz in 2017.
Lost's Jeremy Davies Playing Jesus Christ in American Gods
That's quite the part.
By Lucy O'Brien Jeremy Davies, best known as the physicist Daniel Faraday in Lost, has just been cast as Jesus Christ in the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
The Starz series is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's sprawling novel, centered on a burgeoning conflict between the 'old and new gods' who live among regular human beings. American Gods will debut on Starz sometime next year, and Hannibal director David Slade will direct several episodes including the pilot.
In the version I read (the 10th Anniversary Edition), they had a cut chapter/section in the Appendix featuring a laid back Jesus (I think it was cut from when Shadow is hanging) so Gaiman had an idea to use Him at some point, so it's not entirely out of bounds. And Jeremy Davies is cool even if I do confuse him with Billy Crudup from time to time.
American Gods is based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman and tells the story of a war brewing between the Old Gods and the New. The Old Gods have mythological roots around the world and find themselves seduced by the New Gods' technology and money.
Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Logan) are the executive producers and showrunners for American Gods, and the series cast includes Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Crispin Glover, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Orlando Jones, Jonathan Tucker, Jeremy Davies,Gillian Anderson, and Betty Gilpin.
Meet Bilquis: Let's Talk About the American Gods Premiere's Craziest Scene
by Lauren Piester | Sun, Apr 30, 2017 7:19 PM
American Gods has finally arrived, and with it comes one of the craziest, most memorable scenes on TV in a very long time.
The first episode introduced us to a few different gods, who all have a role to play in the upcoming battle. One of those gods (or goddesses) is Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), also known as the Queen of Sheba. We met her as a nice young woman on a first date with an unassuming dude she met online. After drinks, she drew him back to her bedroom, which was all draped in red and filled with candles and statues.
He was astonished and a little unsure of the fact that she was so ready to sleep with him, but "sleep" is a particularly bad word to describe what ensued. They started having sex, and all of a sudden his dirty talk got weird as he started to worship the various parts of her body.
Before you or he or anyone besides Bilquis knew it, he was being swallowed up by her body. Eventually, he was completely gone.
So if you had any doubts that American Gods would take advantage of the fact that it's on premium cable, those doubts are now also completely gone.
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Bilquis is one of the many secondary characters from the book who executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green really latched onto. While she only appears in one or two other scenes in the novel, Bilquis will be seen a lot more in the series as we learn what her journey entails. And as her portrayer, Yetide Badaki couldn't be more excited about the character she's bringing to life, or her intro scene.
"Can you see how exciting that is for me?" she asked us when we talked to her at the show's Los Angeles premiere. She says that as a "huge geek," she's been a fan of the book since it came out. "I mean, that was an initial 'yes please, I'd love to be a part of this.'"
"There were so many elements that were discussed within the story and this character that I really wanted the chance to jump in and play with—one, being an immigrant that only became a citizen three years ago, that immigration story of these gods, how they came to America, that really fascinated me," she tells us. "And to maybe remind people that yes, if you go back far enough, everybody came from somewhere. And then there was also the aspect of sex positivity. I've never ever ever before seen a woman own sex in that way, and it was exciting and it was powerful and I loved how many men said they were terrified. I said, OK, well pay attention."
It's hard not to pay attention to Bilquis after such an intro scene, which Badaki says she absolutely loved.
"What I really loved is it was unapologetic," she tells us. "And I feel that as women, so much nowadays it feel like we have to apologize for wanting something or for being ambitious for for being flawed, or just apologies all around for just being. And the chance to play a character that just didn't apologize, that just was, that was so freeing. That opened my eyes. And I have to say it started to trickle into my every day life a little bit—Don't mess with me, or else I will swallow you up."
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And if you think Bilquis is the only god we're about to fear and revere, you have no idea what you're in for.
"One of the things that I love about Bryan and Michael is that they are the masters of building up a story from the bottom up, and there's something about old gods as well that they don't necessarily ascribe to a flash in the pan type of new age movement," she says. "These are beings that have become very comfortable over time, almost like a mountain. Their power is deep. Their power may be quiet at times, but they are forces to be reckoned with."
American Gods airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Starz, and also stars Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Gillian Anderson Kristen Chenoweth, Pablo Schrieber, Bruce Langley, and Orlando Jones.