“We’re in a great privileged position where we have a platform to tell stories and to entertain but also educate,” The 100 alum adds of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed and sprawling 2001 novel. “These themes that have become very relevant now in the current political climate with immigration, racism, sexism, women’s rights, homophobia, and technology evolving.”
Playing ex-con and now de facto bodyguard Shadow Moon to Ian McShane’s mysterious and mischief-making Mr. Wednesday, so much of the recently renewed Starz mythological fantasy drama that debuted April 30 sits on Whittle’s broad shoulders – a weight the actor told me he welcomes.
“I’ve got this career, which is my childhood dream, but I’m not from a good area,” admits Whittle, who was born near Manchester and comes from a UK military family. “I had to fight every day because I was a black kid in a white school, because I was an English kid in an Irish school, a soccer player in a rugby school, a Catholic in a Protestant school.”
“This is all stuff I’ve been able to harness and kind of put into Shadow,” Whittle offers in our interview about his life, his career and American Gods just before the series’ Season 1 finale Sunday. “So I really do kind of relate to his whole background of traveling around, never fitting in, always being kind of stood on and trodden on and maintaining that hope, that it doesn’t matter, that I can keep getting up and moving forward.”
In addition to McShane and Whittle, the “genre-busting and glorious buddy road show,” as I call American Gods in my review of the eight-episode first season, also stars Emily Browning, Orlando Jones, Pablo Schreiber and Hannibal alum Gillian Anderson as the god Media. Also in the cast of the series produced by FremantleMedia North America are Yetide Badaki, Kristin Chenoweth, Jonathan Tucker, Omid Abtahi, Cloris Leachman, Corbin Bernsen, Bruce Langley and Crispin Glover as Mr. World.
The interview with Whittle is the sixth installment of our Next Generation TV video series. Watch last week’s interview with Carrie Coon of both The Leftovers and Fargo here and my May 30 convo with The Get Down’s Shameik Moore here. Come back every Tuesday for another conversation with one of the leading new talents in the industry.