In Season 2 of the Starz series American Gods, the battle between the Old Gods, or the traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world, and the New Gods, who reflect society’s modern devotions (i.e. money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs), is really heating up, and Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is on his own path to figuring out exactly what he believes. One of those New Gods is New Media (Kahyun Kim), who has evolved from the Media (Gillian Anderson) of Season 1 into this goddess of global content and master of manipulation who will stop at nothing to get new social media followers.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Kahyun Kim talked about the evolution of New Media, reading the Neil Gaiman novel after watching the first season of the TV series, finding this version of the character, the role that technology and media plays in her own life, the dark side of the fun but manipulative New Media, playing the disrupter, and the dynamic between New Media, Tech Boy (Bruce Langley) and Mr. World (Crispin Glover). She also talked about which other existing character she’d like to play and why.
Collider: I absolutely love this character and the show! New Media is such a cool and interesting addition to Season 2.
KAHYUN KIM: Oh, thank you!
How did you come to be a part of American Gods? Did you have to go through a whole audition process for it?
KIM: Yeah, I did. I had my initial audition, and then I ended up doing another callback and reading one other scene. And then, I got it.
With a character like New Media, it’s almost like you’re playing concept along with playing a character, which seems like it would be a bit challenging to wrap your head around figuring out how to bring that to life. How was this character described to you?
KIM: Actually, for me, it was pretty straightforward, in a weird way. Just because I was such a fan of Season 1, and also a fan of Gillian [Anderson] and the character, I knew what it was. And then when they said, “New Media,” I was like, “That is fucking brilliant!” People are moving on from TV to these small tablets, so the concept was actually very easy to understand. And then, when they gave me four different scenes, I just made a very conscious decision to show very different characters in each scene, with different accents and different characteristics.
You said that you’d been a fan of the TV series, but had you also read the book?
KIM: I’d read Neil [Gaiman]’s other books, but American Gods was the only one that I watched the TV series first, and then I read the book.
What did you think of the book, especially after having seen the season?
KIM: It was interesting because I already had Ricky [Whittle] in mind, and Ian [McShane] was already in my mind. It was different, but I loved the book so much, too, and I thought the TV show did a really good job in capturing the depth of it. I enjoyed both. That’s what happened with me, with Harry Potter, too. I actually watched the movies first and enjoyed them, and then I read the books a lot later, and I actually enjoyed both of them. It made me appreciate what came out of the TV show. So, I loved both.
Did you find yourself, personally, drawn more toward being Team Old Gods or Team New Gods?
KIM: From the books, I’m not gonna lie, I was like, “I love these Old Gods.” But I’m also a geek. I love mythology, so it’s really cool to see these characters and the way that Neil gives them voices is so amazing. And then, with the TV show, I love Mr. World. Crispin [Glover], Bruce [Langley], Gillian [Anderson] and everybody, brought such a quality to it that I can’t resist. So, I love both sides. But I have to be Team New Gods, because I am a New God.
Not only are you walking into this series in the second season, as one of the new cast members among a group of people who have gotten to know each other for a season, but you’re stepping into a role that somebody else has played. What were you most nervous about, when it came to your first day on set?
KIM: I was nervous because it was an already established character, but it was also clear to me that it was a very different character, so that made me not be as nervous as I was. When it was explained to me, especially after I got the part, they were like, “It’s not like you’re gonna recreate what Gillian did,” which is good because she’s a goddess of her own, so I wouldn’t even attempt to. And also, I’m a very different person from her. I’m a younger Asian female, so it was very drastic. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to recreate whatever fantastic things she did, and so, I wasn’t nervous about that. It also helped that everybody was so welcoming, including Neil, our showrunner, and all of the writers. And the cast is just fantastic. They’re so supportive. I’ve never felt like I was late in the game. They invited me out, the second day that I was in Toronto, so it was pretty easy to dive into Season 2.
We’re all so dependent on and obsessed with so many different forms of media, these days. What role does media play, in your own life? How important is it to you, and are you someone who likes to find time to just turn everything off and unplug?
KIM: It’s tricky because I’m really dependent on it and, right now, I’m even more dependent on it, in a weird way, because of American Gods. I really want to have an interaction with the fans and my castmates. I’m also in a play where a character is Instagram obsessed. It’s becoming a new trend of character that I’m playing. Right now, I’m very heavily into it. Hopefully, I won’t be too dependent on it. I do like to turn it off, once in awhile. When I’m with my friends, I try not to pull my phone out during dinner. That’s rude, in my opinion. I always try to engage in the conversation that we’re having.