The impending Starz drama American Gods, adapted from Neil Gaimain’s epic book of the same name, shows every sign of being a television masterwork. Its narrative is a mixture of the bizarre (vagina death; talking birds) and the engrossing; its showrunner is Hannibal’s Bryan Fuller; and its casting of The 100’s Ricky Whittle as protagonist Shadow is on-point. Now, with the news that Ian McShane will play the slippery Mr. Wednesday, the show all but confirms its place among the greats even before it has started.
Think we’re jumping the gun? Let’s break it down.
Ian McShane makes everything better
From Deadwood to Game of Thrones, Ian McShane, in the words of my colleague, makes things way sicker. He’s good at being devious, as Mr. Wednesday should be. He’s good at being intense and secretive, and he’s good at being a little crazy. He also goes all out no matter what the project is, as is exemplified by his criminally underrated turn in Hot Rod.
The character description is spot-on
Courtesy of the American Gods novel, here is Mr. Wednesday’s description:
“Shadow looked at the man in the seat next to him. … He grinned a huge grin with no warmth in it at all. … His hair was a reddish gray; his beard, little more than stubble, was grayish red. A craggy, square face with pale gray eyes. … The man’s craggy smile did not change. … There was something strange about his eyes, Shadow thought. One of them was a darker gray than the other … humorless grin … Wednesday’s glass eye. … He was almost Shadow’s height, and Shadow was a big man.”
Further, in the Tumblr project the Composites, in which artist Brian Joseph Davis uses police sketch software to depict famous literary characters, check out his rendition of Mr. Wednesday:
This ain’t half bad, as far as creepy police sketches go: McShane certainly has the same face shape and general demeanor.
He’s a very good actor
While Ricky Whittle’s performing is certainly nothing to sneeze at, McShane is more well-known and thus adds a sense of gravitas to the production. This is real drama, and it’s going to be great.
Bryan Fuller’s excitement is infectious:
Goddamn is right.