The more I hear about American Gods being made into a TV series the more excited I get. However I also get antsy about casting and direction and stuff like that. So, I’ve decided that, for all it’s worth, and that’s not very much granted, I am going to share with the internet my dream cast for the rumoured show. Please note, this is not an exhaustive cast list, there are so many side stories and characters that I couldn’t possibly do this for all of them. However, there are a lot here and this was fun to think about 🙂 I hope you enjoy my speculations as much as I enjoyed making them!
I would love to see Anthony Hopkins as Wednesday. He is far and away my first choice. I don’t think anyone else, that I know of, could pull off that evil twinkle that is necessary for Wednesday. You watch him in Titus Andronicus and you know what I mean.
runner-up: Max Von Sydow
This was easily the hardest character to decide on. I thought about this one the hardest. He is after all the central character and you need someone who has Shadow’s strength to be able to hold up under the strain of this character. As soon as I remembered some of the characters Hardy has portrayed, I knew immediately that he would be PERFECT for Shadow. He has that strength, silence and perceived innocence that so few actors have these days. I would also love to see Hardy do some coin manipulation.
All you gotta do is watch Snatch and you can see immediately how prefect Rade would be for this role. He has that subtle understated strength which is what is so terrifying about Czernobog. In all of this terror though, he can be mischievous and sincere, two very important qualities for this character.
I was tempted to cast all three Zorya sisters, but Polunochnaya is the one who interacts with Shadow the most. Tilda Swinton has that fragile strength that is characteristic of Zorya Polunochnaya. When you read about Zorya Polunochnaya, she represents the evening and interacts with the moon, and I really see Swinton when I read this character.
As the main “love” interest, Laura is a very important person to think about. You need an actress who is strong and yet also has that plain, unearthly quality that comes into play. Rebecca Hall is a near perfect girl-next-door actor who, when I remembered The Town, came into my mind as the perfect Laura. Molly Parker from Men With Brooms also has that girl-next-door quality that I believe personifies Laura. Both Hall and Parker also have that plain severity, or casual intensity that is a vital element in the portrayal of Laura.
runner-up: Molly Parker
When I envisioned this character I was a bit stymied. I couldn’t picture anyone to take on this very difficult character. Yet, when I remembered Giancarlo from Breaking Bad, I felt like, even though he is so bloody serious, he could have that twinkle, that tricksy spark, that evil glee that Mr. Nancy has. Esposito also has the chops necessary to stand out in the midst of other powerful, intimidating characters.
You need a woman who oozes class no matter what character they portray. I couldn’t think of anyone better than Anna Gunn. From Breaking Bad you can see that no matter what situation she gets into, she holds her head high and is eminently professional. Anna Gunn also has an incredible sense of maturity, something that Media needs when she has to hold her own in the midst of these other, older gods.
runner-up: Elizabeth Banks
The Technical Boy:
Probably the second hardest character to cast, but that was more because of the description of him provided by Gaiman. Once I got that out of my head, I realized that Jonah Hill would be a great choice for The Technical Boy because he kind of exudes that cocky self-indulgence, and yet also the need to be affirmed regularly. I’m not saying that is who Jonah Hill is, but I see that, through his characters he chooses, he could work it like nobody’s business.
There are three men-in-black characters, but Mr. Town is the most important of the three. You need someone who can portray well a character who has a lot of pent up anger but never let’s it really show. If you watch Luther you’ll see exactly why I chose Idris Elba. I know some of you may say that in Luther he gives in to his anger, and while that is true on one level, he only explodes because he has SO MUCH of it that he has repressed.
I had so much fun toying with who would make a great LowKey, I mean sure, most people would say “Tom Hiddleston”! He’s done it so well in The Avengers movies! Well, sure, but this character needs a grittier evilness than Tom could convincingly portray. Jason Flemyng just has that greasy, no-good look almost naturally. And if you see him in Snatch, woah man, he’d just nail this character I think.
Mr. Ibis tells stories. He has a quiet authority and an understated presence that blends in well. Which is why Gary Oldman makes a perfect choice. He is a great storyteller and can capture your attention with his simple and electric presence. He has done violent and aggressive characters, but also very stoic characters as well. I get the feeling that he adds a certain calculated subtleness to all the characters he portrays. That is what is needed for Mr. Ibis.
When I thought of Mr. Jacquel, I tried to think of someone who is like a bulldog, or a pit bull, someone who you are afraid of naturally but aren’t sure quite why, you just know you don’t want to cross them. Watch Breaking Bad and you will understand why I chose Jonathan Banks. You don’t want to cross this man. Ever.
Jackie Earl Haley
Not a significant character until towards the end, but you can’t just write him off and cast him haphazardly. This character needs a delicious scavenger-like quality and Jackie Earl Haley has that in spades. From The Watchmen to Lincoln to the new Nigtmare On Elm Street, he just exudes that viciousness.
I love Mad Sweeney. I can’t imagine a version of this book without this character. And he is so hilariously drunk and funny and brutal. Watch In Bruges or The Guard and you’ll know exactly why Brendan Gleeson is the perfect choice for Mad Sweeney. Gleeson has that natural stature that can hold it’s own in the presence of other, powerful characters yet he can also have a sense of humility, and, when appropriate, a sense of manic, unpredictable violence.
Again, like Horace, Easter is a slightly minor character, but you can’t treat her lightly either. She represents birth and life and hope. Jennifer Tilly has that look of life and the hope of spring’s forthcoming bounty. Tilly can be subtle, although not as subtle and sad as some actresses, but with a strong director she can do really good work.
runner-up: Cate Blanchett
As the man who cares the most about small town life, specifically his small town, Hinzelmann would need an actor who has that kind charismatic, simple depth that I have only really seen in Robert Duvall. If you watch The Apostle or Get Low you’ll see exactly why Duvall is PERFECT for Hinzelmann.
The Buffalo Man:
This is a character who needs an actor who is strong, tall and comfortable in a mask and heavy makeup. No one is more suited to this than Ron Pearlman. On top of that, Pearlman is a great actor who is never given the appropriate praise for his roles. He plays some of the most outlandish characters with an honesty that is oscar worthy.
Here we have again an apparently minor character who doesn’t appear much, but this is a character who needs to be portrayed very strongly and subtley. Graham Greene could do that in his sleep. He would make a perfect Whiskey Jack.
I would love to see Guillermo Del Toro produce this series. He has a great long view of story telling and he has an ability to handle multiple mythologies in a single story line. Del Toro also understands modern fantasy and the need for our cultures to have myths that propel us to thinking and action.
Ok my friends…now that I’ve shared with you my dream cast, share with me yours! If you haven’t read American Gods yet, I can’t recommend it enough. That having been said, it’s not a book for everyone. It’s intense, filled with all kinds of mythological gods and what-not and some scenes that may be a bit disturbing to some of you out there, so read with caution 🙂