American Gods‘ behind-the-scenes turmoil is only getting more public, with actor Orlando Jones posting screencaps of a private conversation with the show’s lead actor Ricky Whittle. The conversation sees Whittle accuse Jones of “pulling the race card” after Jones was unexpectedly let go from the show last year. Meanwhile, Jones posted additional commentary saying, “This man has no idea what transpired between me, [production company] Fremantle and Stars. Nvr asked. Nvr cared.”
American Gods has become infamous for its internal conflicts and extensive turnover among the cast and crew. After losing the two showrunners who shaped its well-received first season (Bryan Fuller and Michael Green), the Neil Gaiman adaptation hired a new showrunner for season 2 (Jesse Alexander), who was then allegedly sidelined mid-season for delivering subpar scripts. At the same time, two of the most famous cast members (Gillian Anderson and Kristen Chenoweth) quit the show.
Season 3 is now in the works with another new showrunner (Charles H. Eglee), who is already a controversial figure because he chose to shake up the cast once again. Recurring actors Orlando Jones and Mousa Kraish won’t appear this season, with Jones stating that Eglee (who is white) objected to Jones’ role playing an outspoken Black character. Jones is a fan-favorite among the main cast, and also contributed to season 2 as a writer, specifically shaping the roles of several characters of color. No one expected him to be fired from the show, and in an interview with Variety last year, Jones suggested that Eglee’s season 3 changes were partly motivated by racism. According to Jones, Eglee said that Jones’ character Mr. Nancy sent “the wrong message for Black America.” Meanwhile, the show’s production company said that Mr. Nancy was absent from season 3 because he wasn’t in that part of the book. This wasn’t wholly convincing to people familiar with the show, because the first two seasons already made serious changes to the cast and plot.
On Saturday, Jones posted excerpts from a DM conversation with Ricky Whittle, suggesting that Whittle wasn’t supportive when Jones was fired, and revealing that Whittle accused him of “playing the race card.”
Judging by the way the screencaps are cropped, this isn’t the whole conversation. But so far, Whittle hasn’t made any kind of public response to share his side of the story. Other American Gods cast members haven’t weighed in, but actress Gabrielle Union shared Orlando Jones’ original tweet in support, writing, “When they think that YOU fighting for change & accountability is gonna somehow cost them money… man yall already know.”