Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ headed for television

American Gods

It was announced this past Tuesday that Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods will finally be adapted to the small screen for STARZ television. Gaiman released a statement regarding the project that was very… Gaimanesque:

“When you create something like ‘American Gods,’ which attracts fans and obsessives and people who tattoo quotes from it on themselves or each other, and who all, tattooed or not, just care about it deeply, it’s really important to pick your team carefully: you don’t want to let the fans down, or the people who care and have been casting it online since the dawn of recorded history. What I love most about the team who I trust to take it out to the world, is that they are the same kind of fanatics that ’American Gods’ has attracted since the start. I haven’t actually checked Bryan Fuller or Michael Green for quote tattoos, but I would not be surprised if they have them. The people at Fremantle are the kinds of people who have copies of ‘American Gods in the bottom of their backpacks after going around the world, and who press them on their friends. And the team at Starz have been quite certain that they wanted to give Shadow, Wednesday and Laura a home since they first heard that the book was out there. I can’t wait to see what they do to bring the story to the widest possible audience able to cope with it.”

Gaiman seems happy with the people involved and Brian Fuller is the man who gave us Pushing Daisies AND Hannibal, proving that he can craft whimsy as well as the grotesque – two aesthetics of large importance in Gaiman’s books. I’m sure the ink isn’t even dry on the paperwork yet, but as a fan of American Gods and its companion book Anansi Boys, I immediately started casting the show in my head after I heard the news*. The characters in American Gods are so wonderfully rendered and memorable, that while you read the story, you can’t help but cast it. Below is my list of the best possible candidates for some of American Gods’ cast of colorful characters.

Jesse Williams

Shadow: Jesse Williams

The character of Shadow is released from prison when we first meet him in the book. He has plans to run a gym with his best friend. He is intelligent, sensitive and possesses a layer of mystery. Jessie Williams, perhaps best known for his roles in Grey’s Anatomy and Cabin in the Woods, possesses these qualities perfectly and would bring a vulnerability and strength to the everyday man that Shadow is meant to be.


Laura: Natalie Dormer

Shadow’s deceased wife who haunts him as a sort of… zombie. Dormer has turned in some brilliant performances in television with her roles in Game of Thrones and Elementary, and her ability to switch between lovely and menacing would be a perfect fit for Laura. We have to see why Shadow would fall in love with her, and also why she might mean trouble for our hero.


Mr. Wednesday: Brendan Gleeson

Mr. Wednesday is written as boisterous and jovial, but menacing when he needs to be. He is the mysterious gentleman who sets the story in motion by hiring Shadow to be his body guard. Gleeson is no stranger to playing larger than life characters and after his turn as Mad-eye Moody in the Harry Potter films, but it would be a pleasure to see Gleeson’s elaborate range in a genre piece like this.

americangodsMr. Jaquel & Mr. Ibis: Idris Elba & Danny Pudi

Jaquel and Ibis are two characters that Shadow stays with on his journey across the U.S. These two gentlemen run a funeral home in Cairo, Illinois and are personifications of Egyptian gods, Anubis and Ibis. Elba has a strong, but reverent presence – perfectly suited to the character of Jaquel, and Pudi’s bookishness and birdlike features are a perfect fit for Mr. Ibis.


Mad Sweeney: Michael Fassbender

This would be a small but pivotal role and Fassbender certainly has the presence and chops to leave a lasting impression. Mad Sweeney is painted as a tall Irishman who calls himself a “leprechaun”. Sweeny is a rough character who likes to tell jokes, drink and fight after a drinking contest, Shadow is left with a very special coin. It would be wonderful to see Fassbender play such a deliciously obnoxious character only to turn it around a scene later, begging Shadow for help.


Rosario-DawsonBilquis: Rosario Dawson

The scene featuring Bilquis is another small scene in the book, but is pivotal in illustrating the old gods in their modern world. In what is perhaps the most memorable scene in the book, Bilquis, the former Queen of Sheba, now working as a prostitute devours a customer through… um… unconventional means.

melvin van pebblesMr. Nancy: Melvin Van Peebles

The human avatar for the trickster African Spider god, Anansi. Mr. Nancy throws the best parties that anyone has ever been to. He loves telling stories and sharing company with friends. The storytelling and charisma of writer, filmmaker and actor Melvin Van Peebles would be perfect for the part of the hilarious trickster god who manages to cut the tension of the most sinister of situations.


Czernobog: Ron Perlman

Czernobog is an old Eastern European god who wants nothing more than to feel the energy of youth by smashing Shadow’s head in with his hammer. Czernobog must be funny, clever, and menacing. He’s a warrior past his prime. You would have to age him a bit, but Perlman has had a career of playing warriors and heavys, and seeing him bring his years of experience to a character that wishes to use violence to relive his youth, would be something we haven’t yet seen from Perlman.


Media: Emma Stone

The introduction of the god of television is one of the funniest scenes in American Gods and Stone is one of the funniest performers working today. When we first meet the god of Media, she appears to Shadow as Lucille Ball and I could certainly see Stone playing Lucy.


Tech God: A puppet voiced by John Hodgman

The Tech god is described as a chubby teenager infused with electronic light who drives around in a limousine. The character is meant to look like a nerdy kid, representative of our current internet culture, but I can’t think of a child actor who would work. So why not have WETA create a puppet and cast minor television personality and voice of PC, John Hodgman.


So these are my picks for the cast, there are still plenty of other characters that I didn’t get to, but what do you guys think? Do think the show will work? Who would you cast? Let us know in the comments.


*I’ve actually been casting the show in my head since I read the book years ago. 

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Robert Walker
Robert Walker 152 posts

Rob Walker is a writer and filmmaker in Colorado, and is creator of the comedy web series Victorian Cut-out Theatre. He loves horror films and comic books (American Vampire, Jonah Hex, The Flash, Planetary). Rob has been a Sherlockian since the age of ten, is a Dark Tower junky and believes that Indiana Jones is the greatest cinematic hero ever created. You can follow him on twitter at: @timidwerewolf and see his other writings and videos at

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