Last year brought in an announcement of the utmost importance when Starz put in a series order for Neil Gaiman’s outstanding novel American Gods, as developed by one of TV’s master storytellers, Bryan Fuller. And now yet another slice of awesome has come from this project, as it’s been announced Deadwood vet Ian McShane has been cast.
This won’t be some brief cameo, either, as Ian McShane will be taking on the hugely important role of the conniving Mr. Wednesday, the leader of the Old Gods. Mr. Wednesday is actually Odin, the All-Father of Norse mythology, and it is he who attempts to gather up a group of Old Gods to go to war with the world’s New Gods. He hires leading man Shadow Moon (to be played by Ricky Whittle) as his bodyguard immediately after Shadow is released from prison, and the two work together to further Mr. Wednesday’s goals.
Although there are a ton of things going on in American Gods, the Old Gods vs. New Gods war is basically the gist of how the story moves forward. And it will allow for a slew of actors (hopefully as awesome as Ian McShane) to come into the show, as there are over a dozen Old Gods – including Mr. Nancy/Anansi, Mad Sweeney/Suibhne, Mr. Jaquel/Anubis and Mr. Ibis/Thoth, to name a few. There aren’t as many New Gods – which are tied to modern conveniences like the Internet, TV and the stock market – but they’re extremely powerful and have certain advantages.
American Gods was originally going to be an HBO series some years back, but the project was passed over due to lackluster scripts. Bryan Fuller, of Hannibal and Dead Like Me fame, took up the helm and teamed up with Green Lantern scribe Michael Green, who will serve as showrunner. What’s more, Neil Gaiman is not only involved, but he’ll be writing multiple episodes of the series.
Ian McShane, whose name made Neil Gaiman grin when it came up as a casting suggestion, has already worked on one adaptation of the British author’s works, as he voiced the Russian neighbor Mr. Bobinsky in Coraline. (He also worked with Michael Green on the shortlived drama Kings.) In recent years, McShane has popped up on the small screen in American Horror Story and Ray Donovan, and he’ll also take an important part in Game of Thrones Season 6 and in the upcoming British drama Doctor Thorne. On the feature side, he starred in John Wick and will reprise that role in the upcoming sequel, and he’ll also pop up in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie The Brothers Grimsby.
There’s no telling quite when American Gods will make its way to Starz in full, but it’ll likely happen later this year or very early in 2017. In the meantime, I’m going to reread Gaiman’s novel to count how many times, if any, Mr. Wednesday calls somebody a cocksucker.