“American Gods” is now entering season three with an epic bang which is befitting for the Gods. Here, war is inevitable and the flames of resentment are flamed by the outright blood-lust that exists between the Old Gods of mythology and the new Gods of technology.
Ex-con Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is coerced into the service of the puckish Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) who is, in reality, the Norse All-Father god Odin, and Moon’s father making Shadow a demi-god.
Naturally, Shadow’s reaction to being half-divine is complicated and he runs from his apparent destiny, choosing to lay low in the picturesque, snowy town of Lakeside, Wisconsin, determined to forge his own path. But in fact, he later discovers that he’s being guided by his powerful African ancestors, the Orishas.
Here, in this seemingly perfect town, he quickly discovers that still, waters hide dark, bloody, and terrible secrets and that he’s unable to reject being a god — his only option is in choosing what kind of god he wants to become.
Most of the critics agree that the casting of “American Gods” is spot on with each actor elevating the “Gods” presence and satisfying those fans of the book of the same name written by British author Neil Gaiman. The novel like the show blends Americana, fantasy, and various strands of ancient and modern mythology, all centering on the mysterious and taciturn Shadow.
God bless Wikipedia, here is what I discovered about Whittle. Wait for it, he’s British which you can’t tell in his spot-on American accent. He first came to prominence as a model for Reebok in the early 2000’s because the man is stunning. In the U.K. he’s known for his role as Calvin Valentine in the British soap opera “Hollyoaks.” He crossed the pond landing roles in American television in a recurring role on ABC’s “Mistresses” (2014. -2016) and has appeared in The CW’s post-apocalyptic drama “The 100.”
Bruce Langley, who plays Technical Boy is also British. New to the industry he has been turning critics head in his riveting and often terrifying portrayal. Of all the deities vying for cultural dominance, it’s his character who went through the most drastic reimagining in his translation from Neil Gaiman’s original novel to the small screen.
Yetide Badaki plays Bilquis the Queen of Sheba who was suspected of being half-human, half-demon (a jinn), and was brought to America by one of her worshipers during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Badaki is a Nigerian-born American actress. She received a 2006 Jeff Award nomination for Best Actress in a Principal Role (in the Play) “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda.” Badaki’s other credits include the recurring character Chi Chi on “This Is Us.” As a screenwriter, she wrote the short film “In Hollywoodland” which is a re-imagining of “Alice in Wonderland” set in present-day Los Angeles.
We caught up with Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon), Bruce Langley (Technical Boy), and Yetide Badaki (Bilquis the Queen of Sheba) to discuss their roles in season three of “American Gods.”
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Hi, Ricky. Hold up, my Google Nest just answered a question that I did not ask. Odd. Maybe she’s a fan of ‘American Gods.’ Welcome to technology, the new gods!
RICKY WHITTLE: (laughing) How are you doing?
LAS: I’m freaking fabulous!
RW: Of course, you are, your Google Nest is talking to you out of the blue. Most people might ask her, “is there a God” but I’d rather know the lottery numbers.
RW: Exactly, everyone is always asking the wrong questions.
LAS: You have a lovely British accent but you don’t as Shadow Moon.
RW: Here is the irony. [The] American Gods are played primarily by many immigrants which is almost a mirror of America. A country pretty much born from immigration. The only true Americans are the native-Americans, the indigenous people that were here. We won’t discuss what happened there.
LAS: I will. It was a genocide. Slavery and genocide are what built America.
RW: Yes, you are right.
LAS: Ok, on the issue of evil, “Gods” and wars, tell me about season three of American Gods, please.
RW: What we are pushing this season is the strength of “the we”. We over the “I” and if we all come together we are so much stronger than we are divided. Our show doesn’t take sides. We don’t say there are good gods and that there are bad gods.
Shadow in season three is learning. He’s going to go away and make his decisions. He’s going to learn. He’s going to evolve and listen to as many voices as possible so he can have a full education of where he lies in this world.
LAS: The world where he is a demi-god and the son of Norse All-Father god, Odin.
LAS: Bruce. Bruce. Bruce. Don’t take this the wrong way but your character — Technical Boy is terrifying. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise when he’s, I mean, you, are on the screen.
BRUCE LANGLEY: (laughing) Thanks very much, I think. I love playing with him. Here’s the thing, he’s like tech. He’s always changing and you don’t know what you are going to get from him.
LAS: Exactly. He’s suspense in motion.
BL: He’s so much fun to play with as an actor. I love the character and we get to see him in a lot of situations where he really doesn’t know what he’s going to do in this season.
LAS: Your name —Yetide Baka—is gorgeous.
YETIDE BADAKI: Lapacazo, your name is gorgeous too.
LAS: What does Yetide mean? You’re Nigerian, correct?
YB: My name originates from Capa, Nigeria. It means ‘mother is back.’
LAS: Mother is back. And look at the character that you are playing — Bilquis the Queen of Sheba. I mean, walk into destiny much?
YB: It’s fascinating how it all comes together.
LAS: I am going to say it, you ready? The casting is flawless.
YB: (laughing) We are all deeply lucky on the cast that we have. Emily Browning as Laura Moon, Omid Abtahi as Salim, Ashley Reyes as Cordelia, Crispin Glover as Mr. World, Demore Barnes as Mr. Ibis, Devery Jacobs as Sam Black Crow, Blythe Danner as Demeter, Julia Sweeney as Hinzelmann, Iwan Rheon as Liam Doyle, Danny Trejo as Mr. World, Peter Stormare as Czernobog, Denis O’Hare as Tyr, Lela Loren as Marguerite, Dominique Jackson as Ms. World, Wale as Chango, Herizen Guardiola as Oshun.
YB: In season three, I am excited about the introduction of the Orishas. I am from Nigeria, and they come from my part of the world and we go deeper into the diaspora. I can’t wait until they see Wale playing Chango.
LAS: Chango. I know Chango, he is the god of thunder and lightning.
YB: We get to see this powerful pantheon of Gods that have originated from Africa and how they came to the shores of America.
“AMERICAN GODS” Season Three premieres on January 10, 2021, on Amazon Prime Video.
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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.