American Gods co-executive producers and showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were at TCA today to talk about their upcoming Starz series based on the Neil Gaiman novel. “This project, in addition to being a dream project, is one that I’ve heard ‘don’t f*ck it up’ about more than any other time,” Green said about the pressures of adapting such a popular narrative. “It is a constant process of rising to the challenge of it “

American God Starz
Starz

The EPs promise to stay true to the book’s characters, specifically in casting actors that fit the description.”When you’re doing a show like this, that is so much about people’s cultures, you have to be culturally literate … with respect to the ancient mythologies and gods that come from certain places and look certain ways,” Green said, “That set the tenor for the whole thing.” Fuller quipped. “We are not color-blind casting; we’re actually consciously very aware of the color in the casting because the book is so culturally specific. … It’s been a great relief because its a map that we stick to.”

The series centers on a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), is an ex- con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), a conman who in reality is one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.

Green said the decision to focusing so much on traditional gods came from Gaiman. “Neil, by his own admission, went into this thinking that the three big religions were serviced enough and this was about the gods that weren’t doing nearly as well. … Largely, it’s about the forgotten myths and forgotten cultures.” Green later added: “When you say ‘religion,’ everybody assumes the next step is to be divisive. I think what makes American Gods such a loved and lasting piece of literature is that it discusses religion in inclusive ways that invites all.”

Fuller agreed. “It’s hard not to recognize the power that religion gives to people; it’s an inspiration to our daily lives,” he said. “In talking about issues of religion, we want to continue to reinforce the positive aspects of it.”

Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney), Yetide Badaki (Bilquis), Bruce Langley (Technical Boy) and Kristin Chenoweth (Easter) also star in American Gods, which is set to premiere in January on Starz.