American Gods has been a high-profile project over at Starz for some time now, and this week the subscription cable series finally really got the ball rolling. On Thursday, we learned that Starz has finally cast Shadow Moon, the main protagonist in American Gods, who is described a dude from the Midwest but who spent some time in prison. Taking on the role is The 100 and Mistresses actor Robby Whittle. Check him out:

ricky Whittle

Shadow’s race isn’t super defined in the American Gods novel, but he is conventionally not thought of as a white dude, and so Starz ultimately didn’t opt to cast a white dude in the role. Instead, they cast Ricky Whittle, an English actor who spent some time on Hollyoaks before hopping to the states to appear in network shows like NCIS, Mistresses and The 100. Whittle’s character, Lincoln, was still around at the end of last season, so we’ll have to wait and see what this casting will mean for the character’s fate in Season 3.

American Gods was picked up to series more than half a year ago, and in the time since, we’ve known that co-creators and writers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have been hard at work at punching up scripts and generally moving things forward. Starz is not always the quickest network in terms of signing on cast members (Outlander notoriously takes its sweet time with casting), but we did learn in the past that the show was planning to commence production as soon as Shadow Moon was found, so if that holds up, American Gods should be moving forward—and quickly—now.

A lot of the hullabaloo surrounding American Gods stems from the fact that the TV series is based on a popular novel written by Neil Gaiman, which has been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide. (Neil Gaiman will also conveniently be helping to write the Starz drama). The book is about a war brewing between the new gods (TV, the Internet) in the world and the old gods (Anubis, Anansi, etc), and Shadow Moon lands in the middle of an impending battle when he becomes the bodyguard for Mr. Wednesday, aka the modern incarnation of the god Odin. It is among Gaiman’s best works and arguably his best work, depending on who you are talking to. I’m assuming Starz is betting big that American Gods will have a built-in audience right away.

Starz has actually had great luck with built-in franchises, including Outlander, which is based on a popular set of novels written by Diana Gabaldon and has an avid fanbase. It’s always risky to attempt a book adaptation, but here's hoping American Gods proves to be a winner for the subscription cable network.

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