For a show about the growing war between the old gods and new gods, you would think American Gods fans wouldn't be too thrilled with things being quiet – but STARZ's series had a bit of a bumpy ride heading into its second season.
After a return that gave the series a much-needed gritty, ensemble feel – and a season finale that literally (no joke) had us on the edge of our seats (even knowing how it would end) – things were looking good as production on the third season rolled along.
Then things got ugly, as news came that cast members Orlando Jones, Mousa Kraish, and others would not be returning this season – with Jones accusing "the new season 3 showrunner" (assumed to be showrunner Charles Eglee) of using race and racial considerations to change (and eventually remove) his character and others from the upcoming season.
For their part, production company Fremantle US says that Jones, Kraish, and others were not brought back for the third season because their characters are not a factor in the portion of the book being covered during the third season. During the cable network's Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press event, STARZ President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch addressed Jones' departure from American Gods.
Defending the series as "one of the most diverse shows on television", Hirsch also referred to Gaiman's novel as the reason for the change in cast: "Chic [Eglee] and the team decided to be in an area where Mr. Nancy didn't play a prominent role". For his part, Hirsch's public comments about Jones were amicable, calling him "a tremendous talent and a really great person".
STARZ's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods is bringing on a number of new faces for the upcoming season – including Blythe Danner, Ashley Reyes, Herizen Guardiola, Marilyn Manson, Eric Johnson, Dominique Jackson, Lela Loren, Danny Trejo, Julia Sweeney, Wale, and Iwan Rheon.
● Danner's Demeter is the Greek goddess of the harvest – and a god with an unresolved romantic history with Mr. Wednesday. As if that isn't enough of a hurdle to challenege even Odin, there's one more glitch in the plan: Demeter was involuntary committed to a mental institution.
● Reyes' Cordelia is a whip-smart but rebellious college dropout facing mounting legal bills and student debt before Mr. Wednesday arrived in her life. Now, she road trips across the country meeting her boss' eccentric friends and helping him with "tech stuff," unaware she's caught up in a divine battle for the soul of America.
● Guardiola's Oshun who is the Yoruban goddess of love, purity, fertility who uplifted and empowered the enslaved people who built America. While known as the maintainer of balance, and the mother of sweetness, Oshun is formidable and known for her spiritual strength. This season, Oshun and her fellow Orishas play a mysterious but vital role in Shadow's spiritual awakening.
● Johnson's is Chad Mulligan, Lakeside's Chief of Police who spends his days mediating disputes between townsfolk he's known his whole life. This trademark low-key diplomacy works well for Chad until a local teenage girl goes missing, igniting a panic of paranoia and blame that threatens to tear Chad's beloved town apart.
● Jackson's Ms. World is an an incarnation of Crispin Glover's Mr. World – who is looking to control destiny with a mysterious new piece of technology that, if brought online, will have the power to dominate humanity's attention. And in this modern age, attention is worship.
● Manson's Johan Wengren is the bloodthirsty front man for Viking death metal band Blood Death. Wengren and the band play an important role in Mr. Wednesday's war against the new gods.
● Loren's Marguerite Olsen is not native to Lakeside, but she has become part of the fabric of the town as a trusted reporter for the local paper, a committed single mother of two, and a no-nonsense property manager. She is understandably wary of the pain vulnerability brings – but when Shadow moves into her building, he begins to chip away at her defenses and uncover a side to Marguerite she thought she'd locked away for good.
● Trejo will portray one of Mr. World's forms (similar to Jackson's "Ms. World").
● Sweeney's Ann-Marie Hinzelmann is the disarmingly warm one-woman welcome wagon for Shadow when he arrives at Lakeside. She's the owner of a small convenience store, a world-famous fishing lure artisan, and the unofficial self-appointed mayor.
● Wale's Chango is one of the Orishas, the gods of his ancestors, guiding Shadow on this journey. Armed with two axes, an electrifying charisma, selfless passion, and warrior spirit, Chango could guide Shadow to his true place within the world of gods.
● Rheon's Doyle is a charming, good-natured leprechaun who once embraced his stereotypical Lucky Charms-St. Paddy's Day image now on a path to a more dignified and honorable existence.
STARZ's American Gods season 3 follows Shadow as he attempts to break away and assert himself as his own man, setting down roots in the idyllic snowy town of Lakeside, WI, where he'll uncover a dark secret while exploring questions of his own divinity. Guided on this spiritual journey by the gods of his black ancestors, the Orishas, Shadow must decide exactly who he is: a god seeking veneration or a man in service of the "we."
American Gods stars Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber, Crispin Glover, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Orlando Jones, Mousa Kraish, Omid Abtahi, Demore Barnes, Peter Stormare, Sakina Jaffrey, Dean Winters, Devery Jacobs, Kahyun Kim, Derek Theler, Laura Bell Bundy, and Christian Lloyd.