It’s not easy playing gods.
When American Gods stars Ricky Whittle, Pablo Schreiber, Yetide Badaki, Mousa Kraish, Omid Abtahi, and Orlando Jones joined EW correspondent Chancellor Agard for a discussion after a screening of the Starz fantasy drama’s season 2 premiere at the 2019 SCAD aTVfest on Friday night in Atlanta, even they couldn’t explain how exactly they put the trippy episode together.
And “trippy” might be an understatement. (Spoiler alert!) The hour finds Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) taking Whittle’s Shadow, Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney, and Emily Browning’s Laura Moon to the House on the Rock in Wisconsin, a curious roadside attraction that boasts oddities like a life-size model of a whale battling a giant squid, collections of crowns and armor, and the world’s largest carousel, which Wednesday’s posse rides to access his mind.
Or something like that. “We just take acid,” Whittle joked, “and then we go, ‘Aaaand action!'”
Jones, who plays Mr. Nancy, agreed. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s like you’re on some acid trip the whole damn time.”
Of course, all that colorful drama is necessary to establish the new normal for the old gods. Wednesday is gearing up for war against the new gods, and in season 2, the plot of Neil Gaiman’s source material will take center stage, while still tackling relevant social issues like sexism, racism, and more. “Where season 1 set up the world and took a lot of time to establish the world we were living in and set up these dialogues and hit on a number of issues, season 2 is a little more plot-driven,” Schreiber teased. “We’re really moving the book forward, and the story forward.”
Speaking of those issues, Jones pointed out that Mr. Nancy is a good example of a character whose narrative will drive such conversations. Because Mr. Nancy comes from a culture of matriarchy that values women’s lives above men’s, he considers gender differently compared to the other gods; for instance, he’ll look out for Bilquis, but not for the others. “In season 1, it was a lot of work just to get [the concept] out there,” Jones said. “In season 2, a lot of those things are more rooted in characters and what their emotions are.”
American Gods returns March 10 on Starz.