'Til death did they part

By Marc Snetiker
July 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Jan Thijs

It’s a classic story of boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy goes to prison and…well, you’ll find out in 2017.

One of the more interesting narrative elements of Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel American Gods — which Starz adapts in an exciting series next year — is the supernatural love story between protagonist Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) and his wife, Laura (Emily Browning). Without giving too much away, Laura dies early in the tale, just as Shadow is released from prison, but their story hardly ends there.

EW has a first look at Laura and Shadow’s haunting reconnection in an early scene from American Gods, which arrives at Starz from executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green. As you can tell from EW’s first look shot, Laura’s been through the resurrection ringer — just take a look at her massive chest scar for proof — but she’s here in the flesh and ready to close a chapter (or open a new one) with Shadow. She’s not quite a ghost, but in a story about gods manifesting in physical form based on the power of belief, Laura is indeed otherworldly, and Shadow’s the reason why.

If anyone knows how to write a romance about a dead girl, it’s Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies alum Fuller. “As Michael would always remind me, this was another in a long line of dead girls I’ve written about,” Fuller says, laughing. Green adds: “Bryan Fuller only writes dead girls.”

In reality, the producers say Laura was immediately their favorite character to build upon for the series. “It was fun to take what Neil had created for Laura in the book and imagine her point of view from the scenario that she was in now. One of my favorite times collaboratively on this is when Michael and I were first talking about crafting and expanding Laura’s story, because it felt like we had been handed the baton of her character and could run,” says Fuller. “She’s always been a source of joy with this show because Michael and I are so in sync with who she is and what she should be and what we can say through her. And the really magical thing was sitting down with Emily and hearing her perspective because I think she gave us permission to go places that we had tested but were cautious about in our approach.”

Browning also offered a healthy dose of assistance in uncovering new ways to bring Laura to life life-ish. “What really came out of Emily inhabiting Laura is that this is a character for who being dead is not the worst thing that’s ever happened to her,” says Green. “Not because her life was horrible prior, but just in that there’s a level of interest in this new existence for her. Part of the fun of cracking this open with Emily are those conversations we’ve had about where she’s going, what she wants to achieve, and how she [acts] as a character who, in some way, has to experience some wish fulfillment with coming back to life in a non-traditional way.”

For more American Gods, check out the updated look of Technical Boy, meet the show’s main heroes Shadow and Wednesday, and get to know the villainous new gods.

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