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 Technical Boy (Bruce Langley), the one responsible for all things technology, and whose life is a daily struggle to remain relevant and on the cutting edge.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Bruce Langley talked about why Tech Boy is “an absolute gift of a character,” why he made the deliberate choice not to read the novel before finishing the audition process for the role, basing his own character work off of the scripts, the aspects of this story that resonate for him, what he’s most enjoyed about the evolution between Seasons 1 and 2, Tech Boy’s fear of becoming obsolete, the power dynamic between Tech Boy and Mr. World (Crispin Glover), having New Media (Kahyun Kim) join the God Squad, and the possibilities for Season 3, which has already been picked up by Starz.
Collider: I love this show, and I love all of these characters. They’re all so tremendously interesting and fun, and I can’t imagine how much fun it must be to play a character like this.
BRUCE LANGLEY: Yeah, you more or less hit the nail on the head. I’ve said this many times before and I will continue to say, it’s an absolute gift of a character. He’s wonderful. He’s brilliant, not the least of which is because I get to play it with so many other of the wonderful members of the cast, who are obviously fantastic at what they do and genuinely fun to hang out with. The character of Tech Boy is something that I have legitimately and am still continuing very much to enjoy playing with.
Since you hadn’t read the novel, prior to auditioning for this series, when you did read it, did it change the way thought about or approached the character, at all, or have you really just developed him from what’s been in the script?
LANGLEY: That’s an interesting question. It was a deliberate choice of mine to not read the novel before I actually completed the audition process because the character has changed so much in the, at the time, 17 years since the book’s release, and Neil [Gaiman] has also talked about that. The Tech Boy in the books, quite simply, is not the Tech Boy of the modern age because technology has changed so much. So, it was quite important for me to do a bit of my own character work around the iteration of Tech Boy that was in the original script, in Episode 101 from Season 1. But then, from there, I’ve read the book and used it as a springboard to go further into Neil’s work. I’ve read a load of his other stuff. The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neverwhere are two other huge favorites. The book provided some great, very valuable context, in terms of backstory for the character. That was incredibly interesting, in the terms of backstory, but my initial character work was based off of these scripts. That was a very deliberate choice because technology has evolved, and the character needed to reflect that.
There are so many interesting characters in this story, and the overall story itself has a lot of really important things to say. What speaks most deeply to you, in this story?
LANGLEY: There’s a centralized concept on which the show is based, which is that, quite legitimately, your beliefs can give birth to representations of those ideas in real life. That’s a somewhat more verbose way of just saying, “Careful what you believe in.” What is humanity, if not just a collection of stories that we’ve agreed to tell? And with that in mind, you need to be very careful about which stories you tell, which stories you believe in, what gods you are creating, and what you’re sacrificing to. It’s also incredibly poignant to represent and shine some light on the fact that America is a nation of immigrants. It’s a patchwork. It’s important to highlight that the foundations of the national identity of America is made up of so many different backstories. It’s ridiculous to try to ignore all of that. That’s something that’s very, very important to highlight. America is a nation of immigrants. That’s what this place is. There’s a slight political trend these days, in certain contexts, to try to ignore that or cut that out, and it’s beyond idiocy. We’ll see where that goes. So, I think that’s an incredibly important thing to highlight, as well.
You’ve talked about how much a character like this had to change from the books to the show, but even in just the two years between Season 1 and Season 2, a character like this has to go through an evolution. What have you most enjoyed about what you’ve gotten to explore with this character in Season 2, especially with the way that he’s evolved from last season?
LANGLEY: That’s actually a great question. This season, I was given more room and inclination to dig deeper, in terms of what fully engaging with this level of technology, consistently, would do to your psyche and your emotional health. That’s an incredibly important thing to highlight, in terms of how things have changed in the last two years. One of the reasons that the New Gods are so alert and aware, all of the time, and they lack the laid-back nature that you see in a character such as Wednesday, it’s because they’re aware that they are entirely capable of being replaced. They need to stay relevant. They have to. If they are, for one moment, not completely up to date and refreshed with new hardware, then they’re irrelevant, and irrelevance, in their world, means death. That’s an important thing that we’ve gotten to play a little bit with, and you get to see some of that with the interplay between the somewhat unholy trinity of World, New Media and Tech Boy, and how they interact with each other. It’s a somewhat screwed up triumvirate, but it’s a very accurate representation of how those deities would respond to each other. I don’t think it would be as much fun as people think it would be to actually be a God, at least in the context of our show. It’s probably quite a traumatic experience. You get all of these fancy bells and whistles, but you are ostensibly and somewhat intrinsically, by definition of your own creation, as something to be worshiped, separate and alone. When you’re trying to work with other creatures that are also feeding off the thing that’s keeping you alive, you have to have some kind of synergistic relationship. The Old Gods are bound together by the solidarity of being screwed. But with the New Gods, not so much. They’re all doubling down and growing in worship, all of the time.