Why Emily Browning is Playing Two Roles on 'American Gods'


Laura Moon is Shadow’s dead but still-walking wife in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and she’ll have a much stronger presence in the upcoming television adaptation than in the novel. Not only is she getting her own episode, but Laura actress Emily Browning will be pulling double-duty playing another character too: Essie Tregowan.

Essie is the star of one of the immigration vignettes sprinkled throughout Gaiman’s novel. Her story tells of a devious young woman who lives a life of thievery. She cons her way out of imprisonment several times and eventually immigrates from Cornwall to America. She brings with her a belief in “piskies” and “spriggans.” From American Gods chapter four:

Over the following two years Essie became an accomplished shoplifter, her wide skirts capable of concealing a multitude of sins, consisting chiefly of stolen bolts of silk and lace, and she lived life to the full. Essie gave thanks for her escapes from her vicissitudes to all the creatures that she had been told of as a child, to the piskies (whose influence, she was certain, extended as far as London), and she would put a wooden bowl of milk on a window ledge each night, although her friends laughed at her; but she had the last laugh, as her friends got the pox or the clap and Essie remained in the peak of health.

In her old age, she’s visited by a mysterious, red-haired Cornishman calling himself “Cousin Jack,” who peacefully takes her life. “It was you that brought me here,” he tells her. “You and a few like you, into this land with no time for magic and no place for piskies and such folk.”

Emily Browning as Laura Moon in 'American Gods' 


While it isn’t outright stated that “Cousin Jack” is the leprechaun Mad Sweeney, it’s likely the show will portray the scene with Pablo Schreiber’s character. After all, he’s among these “piskies,” and it’s his coin that resurrects Laura Moon years later. Emily Browning playing both characters brings the narrative full circle in her relationship with the mysterious Mad Sweeney.

American Gods premiers on April 30th on Starz.

Related Tags