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‘American Gods’ Cast on Why the Series Is More Relevant Now Than Ever

Variety logo Variety 4/21/2017 Sarah Ahern
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Although they are separated by a battle between the “old gods” and the “new gods” in the series, the cast of Starz’ new fantasy series “American Gods” united as a team for the show’s premiere in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Fitting with the tone of the show’s dark yet topical subject matters, the black carpet was lined with an array of dead trees, which was moseyed by cast members including Ricky Whittle , Ian McShane, Emily Browning, and showrunner Bryan Fuller.

An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 book of the same name, the series follows Shadow Moon (Whittle), an ex-convict who is released from his prison sentence three days early after his wife Laura is killed. Shadow finds himself in the company of a man named Wednesday (McShane), who appears to be a conman but in reality is the god Odin. Odin is trekking across America to round up all the old gods — who have assimilated into American life — to confront the strengthening new gods.

Though the book resonated in 2001, the cast and crew explained how this show is timely in 2017 more than ever, tackling topics ranging from the booming world of technology to issues of race and immigration.

“We hope there’s lots of conversations that starts up with the show,” Fuller shared. “We have gay Muslim characters, we have powerful women, we tackle issues of race in America — all the issues we have historically with this country, we would like to talk about.”

The new gods, which includes the internet manifested by “Tech Boy” (Bruce Langley) represents the movement away from old traditions and the widespread embrace of modern technological luxuries.

Of the battle between the old gods and the new gods, Langley says “It’s indicative of the human spirit, the way we are worshiping technology and media instead of these old traditions. It’s allegorical for the human condition, through the lens of what it means to be an American.”

As far as the old traditions, Jonathan Tucker, who plays leader of the old gods Low Key Lyesmith, says they help to embody an immigrant story upon which the United States of America was founded.

“We are forced to ask what it means to be an American, where we came from as Americans, and the legacies, themes, traditions, that we have brought with our respective families,” Tucker said.

Whittle explained his belief that “American Gods” will help maintain conversations around pertinent topics that may have been thwarted after the recent presidential election.

“Al though [the novel] was written in 2001, we wrapped the show in November before the election, and we talk about some incredible themes that still need to be discussed every day — religion, immigration, racism, sexism, women’s rights, gun control,” Whittle said. “We were making progress, and we don’t want these conversations to fade away.”

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