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Starz picks up Bryan Fuller’s ‘American Gods’ series

And no, Tom Hardy will not be playing the lead.


Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 16, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 1:49 pm CDT

A year after Bryan Fuller began developing an adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s modern mythological novel American Gods for Starz, the network has greenlit the series.

Fans are already miscasting the main character, a mixed-race loner named Shadow who discovers he’s descended from a very cynical ancient god.

The series will see Fuller sharing showrunner and writing credit with Michael Green, while Gaiman will serve as an executive producer. In a joint statement, they called Gaiman’s novel “a toy box” full of “gods and magic.”

With its jaded look at myth-making in the U.S. at the end of the 20th century, American Gods looms large over the fantasy landscape. It’s in many ways a direct predecessor to narratives like Supernatural and The Wicked + the Divine. After spending years with the adaptation in the pre-development stage, Gaiman said that he was “relieved and confident” about the production:

I am thrilled, ?scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation. The team that is going to bring the world of ‘American Gods’ to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie: I’m relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands. Now we finally move to the exciting business that fans have been doing for the last dozen years: casting our Shadow, our Wednesday, our Laura.

But casting is already shaping up to be a contentious issue. Ever fandom-savvy, Fuller has called upon the novel’s fans to suggest actors for the vital main character, using the hashtag #CastingShadow.

Shadow Moon is an ex-convict of ambiguous ethnic origins. Gaiman’s novel is full of markers signifying his unclear racial status, mainly because everywhere he goes, people pelt him with racial slurs questioning whether he’s black, Native American, Eastern European, or Romani. Shadow is also described as having “cream and coffee skin,” dark hair and grey eyes.

Yet despite these constant cultural markers, judging from the hashtag it seems plenty of fans thought the character was white. A surprising number of fans seem to want Fuller and Gaiman to consider casting white actors like Tom Hardy and Joe Manganiello.

Settle down, white dudes, just because you can’t read doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. Gaiman and Fuller have both repeatedly insisted that they would never cast a white actor to play the role, and last year, in an interview with Den of Geek, Fuller put it even more bluntly:

If we cast a white man to play Shadow we would be the biggest assholes on television.

There you have it, folks: Hardy is not happening. And we do love Hardy, but thank goodness for that. In honor of the recently announced casting of Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Newt Scamander—oh, wait, sorry, we confused Stewart-Jarrett with Eddie Redmayne—here are some of our favorite fan suggestions for the part:

But so far the overwhelming majority of fans have only one choice to play Shadow:

We have to note that technically speaking, Jason Momoa, who is Hawaiian, isn’t the right ethnicity to play Shadow, who probably has African or West Indian origins. Still, he has the fan support—and he already wants the part. Last year, Momoa stated on Huffington Post Live that he would be “honored” to play the part of Shadow, and that he’d been eyeing the production very closely.

“When it comes around I would love to audition for it and try out for Shadow,” he said.

Variety noted that Fuller and Green also want to develop the parts of other characters who have little development in the novel, including one woman who only appears long enough to eat a man with her vagina. In the TV version, the character, Bilqus, will get her own character arc and backstory.

Man-eating women and a diverse cast? This is already the best thing on television.

Photo via Batman News

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*First Published: Jun 16, 2015, 6:29 pm CDT