There are changes in front of and behind the camera on American Gods, Starz’s upcoming straight-to-series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel, which began shooting two weeks ago in Toronto.
One of the main roles, Mad Sweeney, will be recast after British actor Sean Harris had to pull out for personal reasons and return home. Additionally, original director of photography Brendan Glavin has been replaced with Jo Willems (Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1 & Part 2, Limitless feature). I hear that two weeks in, the production was starting to fall behind schedule, and a move was made to try and right the ship early by making a DP change as the delay was attributed, at least in part, to the director, David Slade, and the DP, not being completely in synch. Slade has a long-standing relationship with Willems, whose first feature collaboration with Slade was the Sundance indie Hard Candy. The two also worked together on the film 30 Days of Night and the pilot for NBC series Awake.
As for Harris, I hear he only had worked the past week, filming a couple of scenes, which will be reshot once a new actor is cast.
“Sean Harris had to leave the American Gods production for personal reasons,” series producer FreemantleMedia Media North America said in a statement to Deadline. “He is a very talented actor and we are sad to see him go, but we wish him well. We are currently recasting the role of Mad Sweeney. Separately, we are thrilled to welcome Jo Willems as our DP. Jo and David Slade have had a long-standing creative partnership and have collaborated on various projects. The chemistry between a director and his DP are vital and when Jo became available to join David on American Gods, we jumped at the opportunity to have him on the team.”
The plot of American Gods posits 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.
Mad Sweeney is a down on his luck leprechaun, who is having a hard time understanding how he lost his charm and way. Always up for a good fight, Sweeney is never deprived while in the employment of Mr. Wednesday.
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are writers and showrunners. David Slade is directing the pilot and additional episodes. FMNA’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk are executive producing the series along with Fuller, Green, Slade and Gaiman. FremantleMedia is distributing the series worldwide.