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The American Gods Cast and Crew Talked Politics and Representation at SXSW Panel


During the American Gods panel at SXSW, the cast and creators discussed politics, changes to the source material–and representation. The panel was quite large, with creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green as well as cast members Yetide Badaki, Emily Browning, Betty Gilpin, Crispin Glover, Orlando Jones, Bruce Langley, Ian McShane, Pablo Schreiber, Jonathan Tucker, and Ricky Whittle.

We already knew that the series will add some new characters, but the creators also teased more complexity and screen time for the women of American Gods. “We’re very excited to expand on several of the female characters,” said Bryan Fuller. “The book tends to be a sausage party. We’re very excited to have these ladies on the show with these fine gentlemen.”

Green teased more screen time for Laura Moon, a change from the book. “We knew we wanted to start with Shadow meeting Wednesday, but we also knew about this character Laura Moon…and we knew she spent a lot of time off screen [in the book].” Fuller had previously tweeted that Laura was their “foothold into the world [of the show].”

Meanwhile, actress Emily Browning, who plays Laura, described her as “a slightly awful guardian angel.”

“I’m playing a character who worships my husband. It’s a nightmare,” she said, laughing. “I’ve never wanted to play a character where her main motivation was to love her husband. I think that she’s sort of her own kind of hero, but it just so happens that what she wants in the story is to get this guy back.”

Green and Fuller also discussed the politics of the show. Fuller said, “It’s definitely a different show that we set out to make, because the political climate in American shat its pants…so we have a strange new platform to start a different conversation.”

“It celebrates a lot of things that we love about America that have recently become odd about America,” said Green.

The cast and creators also discussed the representation of race and ethnicity. “One of the things that was exciting for us in casting the show…is that so much of the book is based on other cultures and other ethnicities,” said Fuller, “so it gave us the opportunity not to be color blind. It was great working with Neil because he was very, very adamant that every actor we cast must be very representative of the book…and [that] gave us the opportunity for much more inclusive casting to represent America.”

Orlando Jones, who plays the show’s Anansi analogue Mr. Nancy, said, “It seems extremely poignant, while at the same time, extremely powerful to be the voice of a nation in some ways…I think the conversation of race is one that we’ve avoided for quite some time.” Speaking with Vanity Fair earlier, he shared that during filming in Toronto, “I remember literally waking up in the morning and seeing that Black Lives Matter Toronto had a huge flare-up with the police department in Toronto. People saying, ‘What is Black Lives Matter Toronto? In Canada, we don’t have racism. What’s going on here?'”

American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30, 2017.

(Via Variety and Vanity Fair; image via Starz and Entertainment Weekly)

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