I have seen the future after Game of Thrones is over.
And it is on STARZ.
Today’s panel, which opened with this trailer featured Ricky Whittle, who plays Shadow Moon, Ian McShane, who plays Mr. Wednesday, plus Yetide Badaki (Bilquis), Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney) and Bruce Langley (Technical Boy.) Neil Gaiman was also on hand, who called the experience of being at SDCC full circle, since he wrote the first chapters while on his way to SDCC….16 years ago.
“In 1999, I came by train, and on the train to San Diego, which was a three-day train journey from Chicago, I wrote the first chapter of American Gods. So it all sort of started for me on the way to San Diego, and it’s so glorious that round two of American Gods the television version is happening here today.”
One of the reasons this show looks like it’s literally standing up off the page and walking directly at you, much like the first season of Game of Thrones did, is that Gaiman took a page from Martin and made sure he was involved up front, and is now slowly backing off as the show takes on a life of its own.
“I was very involved. I still am. And it’s really been interesting, finding our Shadow was a process that lasted several months, and we put poor Ricky through the ringer. I hate to think how many audition tapes he did for us.” (“I know,” said Whittle. “I did 16.”) “With Ian, I think it was as simple as getting a phone call from Bryan saying, ‘What about Ian McShane?’ and we went, ‘Oh my God, yes.’ We then made him do 16 audition tapes.”
One of the things he was most thankful for was the lack of pushback when it came to refusing to whitewash the characters. As for the inevitable book reader versus TV shower watcher schism:
“We’ve tried to build it in a way that means if you’ve read the book, you are definitely ahead of the people who have not seen the TV series or read the book, but we have surprises for you too, and we have things that will leave you puzzled. And of course we get to spend a lot more time with a lot more characters.”
One thing that book readers do have to look forward too–parts that Gaiman cut because the book was getting too long are getting more fleshed out, since they have six seasons to pay with. “There were definitely chunks of American Gods that didn’t make it into the book,” he said. “In some cases, just because the book itself was getting really thick, there were stories and things that didn’t get written.”
As for Ian McShane who arguably is the biggest name in the cast going in, he called the role of Mr Wednesday “one of those parts that comes along once in a while for an actor of my experience and age.” This might just be one of those TV shows too.