Starz’s ambitious drama, American Gods, already has an amazing cast, but now, it’s about to get even bigger!
In a surprise announcement during Friday’s Comic-Con panel, Kristin Chenoweth was revealed as the latest A-list star to join the new 10-part series, playing the goddess, Easter. This marks a reunion for Chenoweth and American Gods co-showrunner Bryan Fuller, as the two previously worked on the beloved series Pushing Daisies.
Fans in Room 6BCF were notably excited by the casting and Chenoweth’s presence, with one lady yelling out, “She’s awesome!”
“I think that question was just answered, she’s awesome,” co-showrunner Bryan Fuller said when asked why Chenoweth was the perfect actress to play the part.
Fuller shared a heartwarming story about the first time he became aware of Chenoweth, years ago at her last performance as Glinda in the smash musical, Wicked. “Very strangely, I got amazing seats and the poor woman came down in the bubble and couldn’t get two notes out,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘What’s the big deal?’ Then she started singing. Oh, that’s the big deal.”
Chenoweth was adorably shy about crashing the panel and was grateful for the opportunity to portray such a different character.
“I’m really excited to be reunited with my Bryan Fuller. Actually, this is the first time I’ve met some of the cast,” Chenoweth sweetly said, before saying hello to author Neil Gaiman. “Hi, Neil! I hope you enjoyed meeting me when I came in. I certainly enjoyed meeting you.”
“I’m excited to come play in your playbox and scratch around and maybe lay a few,” she deadpanned.
Based on Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel, American Gods centers on the mysterious Shadow (The 100’s Ricky Whittle), a man who is released from prison early after serving a three-year sentence for bank robbery when his wife, Laura (Emily Browning), is killed in an accident. On his way to the funeral, Shadow meets Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), who knows more about his life than is possible. From there, the story unfolds.
If you aren’t familiar with the American Gods universe, don’t worry. The creative team promises those who tune in without any notion of what the book is about won’t be lost. (It has been reported that the first season will follow the first third of the book.) But there will be Easter eggs for those who have read the book.
“We’ve tried to build it in a way that if you read the book you’re definitely ahead than people who haven’t read the book or seen the TV series,” Fuller said, adding that there will still be things “that will leave you puzzled.”
According to executive producer David Slade, the season has been “weird and cinematic,” two trademarks of a quintessential Fuller-produced show. “It has been gratifyingly weird.”
The cast of American Gods is incredibly diverse -- one thing Gaiman wanted to stay true to the books, in terms of the characters’ ethnicities. (Orlando Jones and Gillian Anderson are among the genre faves appearing in the ensemble.)
“The only thing that I was going to be hardline on from the book was to keep the same racial makeup from the book -- that there wasn’t going to be any whitewashing,” Gaiman said. “I wanted that to be absolutely held in stone. There was no pushback. There was nothing but absolute agreement. It feels so much more important that we’re doing that now.”
The show doesn’t shy away from difficult, emotionally-charged subjects, from gun control and women’s rights to religion and racial divides. Executive producer Fuller said it’s “important” to focus on topical moments.
“I look at what’s happening in the world today. We have a vice presidential nominee who thinks gay people should be shocked and women should have funerals for their fetuses and that’s scary,” Fuller said, asking the audience “to leave the room with a little more love.”
Watch the first American Gods trailer, which debuted at Comic-Con, below.