Adapted from the best-selling novel written by Neil Gaiman, the Starz series American Gods is back for Season 2 and 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 while Mr. World (Crispin Glover) plots revenge, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday (Ian McShane) attempt to get the Old Gods on board for all-out war.
While at the Starz portion of the TCA Press Tour, Collider got the opportunity to sit down 1-on-1 with executive producer Neil Gaiman to talk about the journey to get new episodes of American Gods back on TV, why the show takes some time to make, getting to see more character interactions in Season 2, the work of this incredibly talented cast, getting to watch his mad ensemble of characters brought to life, why he’s excited for the story they’d get to tell in a possible Season 3, and how it all compared to the experience of making the TV adaptation of Good Omens (premiering on Amazon on May 31st).
Collider: This show has been through two showrunners, and the season finale aired in 2017. Is it a relief to actually be here, with new episodes, or did you believe that you would always get to this point?
NEIL GAIMAN: Yeah. It was weirder for me to read some of the stuff online that said, “Oh, my god, American Gods, behind the scenes, is all falling apart.” I was going, “But they just shot four episodes, and everything is fine. They’re doing some re-shoots, but they’re doing less re-shoots than they did in Season 1. I was going, “I don’t think this is news.” Then, I was reading Steven Bochco’s biography on the tube, going into work on Good Omens, every morning, and learning about what went down on Hill Street Blues, and then on NYPD Blue. That was worse, by a factor of thousands, than anything that happened on American Gods. A showrunner came, and a showrunner left. That’s not even an unusual thing. Given the slightly hysterical tenor of some of the reporting, and naming no names, but the Hollywood Reporter should have been ashamed of themselves, the weirdest thing for me was putting out a thing on Twitter on Season 2, and having a bunch of people go, “We thought this was canceled.” No, it’s not canceled. In its own mad way, it’s on schedule. It’s not the fastest show to make. It’s big and it’s complicated. I’m sure that Season 3 will be a while, as well. The waiting is a pain in the ass.
Especially when you love the story and the characters.
GAIMAN: We’ve also been doing 8-episode seasons. We were meant to have done a 10-episode season for the first season, but we wound up making eight. And then, having made eight for the first season, we made eight for the second. I don’t know if that’s now a thing that we’re doing, or if we’ll expand and do 10 or 12, but it’s a pain in the ass to wait. On the other hand, it’s amazing how rapidly these things actually come upon you, given the amount of work, on both American Gods and, for me, Good Omens that’s happened. I’ve spent years making Good Omens with people going,” When’s it gonna be on screen,” and I’d say, “Spring 2019.” And they’d be like, “That’s so long. That’s so far away. How can we wait?” A few weeks ago, people were saying, “So, when’s it gonna be on?” I’d go, “The end of spring.” And they’re like, “That’s not long.” And no, it really isn’t. So, I’m thrilled it’s happening now. I’m thrilled that people are gonna be able to get to see it. And it was about a year ago that I was walking around the House on the Rock with actors, shooting stuff for Season 2 of American Gods. I haven’t been waiting. I’ve been watching the machine ticking on. For me, I’m just looking forward to when people are going to get to see what Yetide [Badaki] does next, and what Ricky [Whittle] does next. I want them to see more of Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber) and Laura (Emily Browning).
One of the really fun things about Season 2 is that we get to see more interactions between the characters. The first season introduced to all of these characters, and now they’re really getting to play with each other, and it’s so delightful and fun to watch.
GAIMAN: It is, and they also get so much more to do this season, after getting introduced in the previous season. Yetide was a towering presence in Season 1, who had maybe four lines. One of the things that’s great about Season 2 is that she gets to talk. You get to find out what she has to say, and that’s fantastic.
And she really does have something to say.
GAIMAN: She really does, which I love. I love Bilquis saying things, and I love Yetide saying things. Both of those things make me happy. I love watching the soap opera – in the finest sense of the word – that will play out with Mad Sweeney and Laura. What’s going on there is just glorious, and Pablo is a star.
These characters seem to really give so much opportunity to the actors that play them.
GAIMAN: On the one hand, you have these fantastic characters, and on the other hand, you have this amazing, mad family, led by Ricky, who has just stepped up. It’s Ricky’s family. Everybody becomes a part of the American Gods family, with Ian [McShane] as the mad old uncle, or the dangerous grandfather. It’s wonderful to watch them, and just go out and be with them, and feel that feeling of how much joy they take in each other’s company.