Why American Gods Made Such Huge Changes With Laura, According To Co-Creator Michael Green

laura moon in american gods
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of Starz)
(Image credit: Photo courtesy of Starz)

Spoiler alert for American Gods fans who haven't yet watched the episode "Git Gone."

When Starz's exceptional American Gods brought Episode 3 to a close last week, viewers stared incredulously at Emily Browning's Laura Moon inexplicably standing inside Shadow's hotel room, despite the fact that her death was the reason for Shadow's early release. And tonight's "Git Gone" was a brilliant narrative detour that completely changed up and expanded Laura's story from Neil Gaiman's novel. CinemaBlend spoke with co-creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green about the episode, and here's what Green told me about why those big changes were made with Laura from page to screen.

It was one of the earliest conversations Bryan and I had, sitting down to talk about our goals for a series adaptation: who gets expanded? And the first name on the top of that list was Laura Moon. She's very compelling in the book. Her scenes are extremely memorable and well-wrought. But she spends a lot of time off-screen and that seemed like the opportunity to deviate some. The reader is encouraged to think certain things about her just by virtue of the history and how Shadow views her and what he learns about her. And we were very interested to meet her before what happens to Shadow when he's released from jail to find out what brought her to those moments. So that, while she might make that series of mistakes, the audience can find them compelling or at least gain empathy for them to see what kind of person she was. The idea of a woman whose life in some ways begins with death is a very interesting one and hopefully bears a lot of fruit.

To be clear, Laura Moon is definitely an important character within the American Gods novel. Both versions feature Laura dying while giving oral sex to a vehicle-driving Robbie -- although only one of them specifically has Dane Cook singing The Band's "The Weight" -- and both versions bring the ennui-filled Laura back from the dead. But the comparisons mostly end there, and we're apparently going to see Laura take on a more central and non-sporadic role within this epic story as it moves forward in the back half of this season, in Season 2, and hopefully beyond.

Everything that Bryan Fuller and Michael Green did with Laura's expanded role worked perfectly in "Git Gone," from the clinical way she viewed her casino job to how her affair with Robbie was largely fueled by a combination of his sexual interest in her and her innate need to fuck with normalcy, rather than any strong emotional desires of her own. She pushes Shadow into attempting the casino (not bank) robbery, which gets him imprisoned, and she was the reason he survived that vicious lynch mob. She is basically Shadow's savior, and the one God-like being in this story that he would likely always side with no matter what. Okay, so that's also similar to the novel, but we're pretty sure there wasn't a scene that looked like it came straight out of Sucker Punch in the source material.

shadow and laura together in American Gods

(Image credit: Photo courtesy of Starz)

Shadow, who is probably thankful that he wasn't around for that moment when Laura was shitting out all the embalming fluid in her body, didn't get his story expanded too much here, beyond further showing himself to be the vaguely innocent other-wheel in Living Laura's life. But now that Laura has passed through Mr. Jacquel's afterlife and funeral home, she now realizes the full capacity of her love for Shadow, and it will play a large part in dictating the whens and hows of her eventual flypaper-filled trip to afterlife, or lack thereof.

Thankfully, American Gods nailed it with the casting for Laura, as Emily Browning's eyes can instantaneously turn from cold and disaffected to warm and puppy-esque, which is definitely needed for this role. And Michael Green also told me the actress herself influenced how big he and Bryan Fuller wanted to make Laura's role for the Starz series.

Once we had Emily Browning saying that she wanted to inhabit the role, the idea of making her the third lead in the show, which we'd always imagined the character Laura to be, was very easy and was very comforting. Because we wanted more of Emily Browning.

Whether she's just about to bite a dong off or punching people's heads clear off of their bodies, Emily Browning is indeed as exquisite a casting choice as everyone else has been on this series so far. With lots more gallows humor and death-affronting bravado to come from the actress, American Gods airs Sunday nights on Starz at 9 p.m. ET. Check out another interesting story Bryan Fuller and Michael Green told us, and then if you're looking for more awesome TV, unlike Robbie, that's coming soon, head to our summer TV schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.