You may think that a mysterious ex-convict who has found himself wrapped up in a war between the new gods and the old gods would be a challenge for an actor to relate to, but that wasn't the case for American Gods stars Ricky Whittle.
Whittle tells Deadline that the history of Shadow Moon, his American Gods character, isn't all that different from his own.
"I've got this career, which is my childhood dream, but I'm not from a good area," Whittle says. The actor was born in the Manchester area into a British 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 continues. "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."
As for the present day, Whittle feels honored to be able to bring a beloved story like Neil Gaiman's American Gods to television.
"We're in a great privileged position where we have a platform to tell stories and to entertain but also educate," Whittle says. "These themes that have become very relevant now in the current political climate with immigration, racism, sexism, women's rights, homophobia, and technology evolving."
In American Gods, when Shadow Moon is released from prison, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday and a storm begins to brew. Little does Shadow know, this storm will change the course of his entire life. Left adrift by the recent, tragic death of his wife, and suddenly hired as Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard, Shadow finds himself in the center of a world that he struggles to understand. It's a world where magic is real, where the Old Gods fear both irrelevance and the growing power of the New Gods, like Technology and Media. Mr. Wednesday seeks to build a coalition of Old Gods to defend their existence in this new America, and reclaim some of the influence that they've lost. As Shadow travels across the country with Mr. Wednesday, he struggles to accept this new reality, and his place in it.
American Gods, based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, was developed by Michael Green and Bryan Fuller for Starz and has already been renewed for a second season.
The first season finale of American Gods airs Sunday night on Starz.
Photo Credit: Starz