Bryan Fuller On American Gods: Casting A White Man To Play Shadow Would Make Us TV’s “Biggest Assholes”
And a bunch of A-Holes they are not.
When a beloved book is adapted for film or TV, fans are going to have a lot of understandable concerns: will the spirit of the original work be destroyed? Will the adaptation be crafted by the right creative talent? And will any and all of the story’s diversity be honored? In the case of Starz’s series adaptation of American Gods: yes, absolutely, and praise be to Bryan Fuller.
In an awesome interview with Den of Geek, the Hannibal showrunner explained that preserving the diversity in Neil Gaiman’s Americana fantasy novel is a priority (bolding is my own, because booyah):
In our conversations about who our ideals are for specific roles, Shadow is described as… is he a gypsy? Is he Hispanic? Is he black? Or is he all of those things in one? So we know that he is not white! I think if we cast a white man to play Shadow we would be the biggest assholes on television.
The decision to cast a POC as Shadow might seem like an obvious one, but whitewashing roles is alarmingly frequent: look at the inexcusable casting in Exodus, for example, or the CW’s choice for Arrow‘s Ra’s al Ghul. Starz has a pretty solid record of diverse casting (yeaaaah Spartacus), but still, it’s heartening to hear Fuller’s conviction. Casting POC to play POC shouldn’t be controversial, but if online comment sections are any indication, there’s always going to be a peanut gallery of pinheads ready to cry “reverse racism” at the mention of diversity (American Gods is fantasy, sure, but nothing in the book is as fabricated as that bullshit concept). In the context of that idiocy, Fuller’s bluntness is refreshing: whitewashing American Gods would be f’ing insulting, regardless of any perceived ambiguity over Shadow’s race.
In the interview the showrunner also said he plans for the series to last more than a season and spoke about what viewers can expect from its 2016 debut:
We’ve broken the first three episodes, Michael Green and I, and we’re having so much fun. It’s such a different muscle to Hannibal. There’s a big, bold, sprawling world that is at our fingertips that is going to be so much fun to explore.
It’s fun to platform the world and say to Neil [Gaiman], okay, if these are the rules of this universe that you’ve created, then it would also apply in these circumstances. That’s been great for Michael and I because we’re recognising the rules and then also allowing ourselves to navigate those rules and expand the story in a fun way where those rules are supporting a greater, grander world than you’re able to see in the novel.
[…] One of the fun things about the television series we’re crafting is that for every moment that takes place, there are alternate points of view of that moment so we will see an episode that is primarily from Shadow’s point of view, and then the next episode will be primarily from Wednesday’s point of view, and then the next episode will be primarily from Laura’s point of view so there’s a fun to point of view when you’re adapting a novel like this, because it gives you the freedom to expand the world and the characters.
Considering Fuller recently compared the series’ intended scope to Game of Thrones, it’s not surprising that the show will allow for multiple points of view. Now to pass the time until 2016 fancasting Shadow! Thoughts?
- Starz Picked up the American Gods TV Show, and Bryan Fuller Is Co-Showrunning
- Bryan Fuller Promises American Gods Adaptation Will Have A Similar Scope To Game of Thrones, Says Gaiman “G.D. Better” Write Episodes
- HBO Exec Talks Game of Thrones, Why Their American Gods Show Failed