For fans of author Neil Gaiman, little else can be more exciting than the news that Starz is developing an adaptation of the writer’s American Gods novel. While the debut of the series is still some time away, there has been a steady influx of casting and production news to keep fans in anticipation of the premiere. The latest news reveals that Gillian Anderson, who has become a sci-fi and horror legend with starring roles in such shows as The X-Files and Hannibal, has been cast to star in Gaiman’s American Gods.
American Gods Makes Gillian Anderson One Of Their Own
The man responsible for developing American Gods for Starz is Bryan Fuller, and he’s no stranger to the talents Anderson so deftly accesses in her acting. It seemed only a matter of time before the series creator found a suitable role for Gillian on American Gods. Anderson will play Media, one of the many gods portrayed in Neil Gaiman’s tale of the old guard versus the new.
Media, as played by Anderson, will be “the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.”
In American Gods, Gaiman tells the story of the old gods of mythology that have been long forgotten as society has become obsessed with technology, celebrities, money, drugs, and fame. As these old gods launch a rebellion against the new American gods, the released convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) becomes drawn into the drama, after having been retained by the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) as a bodyguard and assistant. The series tells the story of these two men, as they aid the gods of old in their battle against the new.
Neil Gaiman On Walking The Tightrope Of A Television (Or Film) Adaptation
The American Gods author knows there are things that must be changed when developing a literary work for television or film, whether it’s to tell a better story, or to keep audiences entertained and invested in the story. Equally important is to allow those working on the cinematic version of one’s work to make the story their own, a lesson the American Gods author has learned through trial and error.
“I hoped I’ve learned things from some of the things that didn’t work,” says Gaiman. “It’s weird because my fundamental attitude is that you’re always trying to guard the soul and the heart of whatever it is, but at the same time you have to allow people to create, and you have to allow people to have fun and build and make it their own. To me it’s kind of a peculiar tightrope, and you don’t want to fall off on one side or the other.”
Still, Neil isn’t happy with sitting back and letting others take full control of his works, either. The author seeks out a happy medium, or, at least, a compromised medium, in which he will speak his mind on points that he feels are important and necessary to the story, as is the case in the production of American Gods.
“At least in script stage, I am very not shy about telling [series creator] Bryan Fuller, ‘I love this, I love this, I love this, and that thing you had, that’s over my dead body and you have to change it.’ But right now they’re 10 days into shooting, and the only thing I am absolutely sure of is that this American Gods is its own thing.”
Indeed, Gaiman says he sees something magical happening, as his story takes on its own fate and becomes something entirely new and exciting. He watches as the actors bring his characters to life, but, once that has been accomplished, those American Gods characters become something more than mere players in Gaiman’s story. They live their own lives now.
“I’m watching Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle bring my characters to life but also going, ‘This is absolutely its own thing, it has its own life.’ If it succeeds or if it fails, it’ll be on its own terms. I know I’ve never seen anything that looked like it.”
[Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images]