Exclusive: Bryan Fuller on American Gods casting

Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller updates us on the progress of his and Michael Green’s Neil Gaiman adaptation, American Gods…

At the tail-end of a juicy chat about the forthcoming third season of Hannibal (starting on the 4th of June on NBC in the US and the 10th of June on Sky Living in the UK), we had a minute or two to ask Bryan Fuller for an update on American Gods, currently being developed with Michael Green (Heroes, Smallville) for Starz.

As the series hasn’t yet reached the official pick-up stage, Fuller was able to confirm little on the record aside from the fact that so far, one actor in particular has been approached about a lead role (we’re not allowed to say who but it’s a doozy. Cross fingers and toes that this one comes off).

Fuller did let us in on Neil Gaiman’s plan not to make any casting announcements about the show until the major players are unveiled live on stage at a future Comic-Con. He also reiterated what he told us last year about the importance of staying true to the novel’s ethnic diversity when it comes to casting.

Finally, if American Gods does get the go-ahead, Fuller estimates that we could see it in late 2016…

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Obviously you’re still in post on Hannibal right now, but can you update us on American Gods? How is that progressing?

It’s going along nicely. The first two scripts have been written and we have been working with illustrators designing the world, so we’ve got these fantastic illustrations of Jack’s Crocodile Bar, the Bone Orchard and Zorya’s rooftop with all the telescopes looking up at the bear constellation. There are also some new things that are going to be unique to the series and weren’t in the book.

We are going to do a visual presentation to Starz, who are very happy with the two scripts that they received, and then we go from there.

In terms of casting, are you making offers at this stage?

We haven’t made an offer but we’ve made an approach to one actor in particular. It all hinges on the final trigger being pulled by Starz. We have several people lined up that we would love to get in various roles and plan on making approaches.

And when that trigger is pulled, what timescale are you looking at?

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As soon as the go-ahead has been given, we’re looking at early 2016 production with airing later in 2016.

When might we expect casting announcements to start coming?

Neil [Gaiman’s] plan—and Neil’s very internet savvy—what Neil would like to do is cast Laura and Shadow and Wednesday and Mad Sweeney and Bilquis, because Bilquis will be a major character in the show, and the Technical Boy and then trot them all out on-stage at a Comic-Con coming up. That’s his plan. He’s saying ‘I don’t want to make any casting announcements, I want to announce the cast in full when they walk out on stage at a Comic-Con’.

Last time we spoke, it was cheering for you to talk about making sure the cast wasn’t whitewashed in terms of ethnicity…

One of the things I’m most excited about for American Gods is the diversity in the cast because there’s such a wide range of ethnic Gods in the world. Right now, we’re imagining two white roles and everybody else is non-white, so my goal, Michael’s goal, certainly Neil’s goal has been to have a very ethnically diverse cast. That’s important to all of us.

Also now, we can cite Empire and we can cite The Walking Dead as being primarily non-white in their casting, and they’re the two biggest shows in the world right now, so that has to say something. We have to be moving forward with a representation that is accurate to the world.

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It has to look like 2015 up there.

It really does, and there’s no excuse with American Gods. There’s absolutely no excuse to cast say, Mr Ibis and Mr Jacquel as… those should be African-origin actors in terms of their heritage.

Read the full interview with Mr Fuller on the site this Friday. Hannibal Series 3 premieres June 10th exclusively on Sky Living.

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