By Maureen Lee Lenker
February 12, 2019 at 08:47 PM EST
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The second season of American Gods is hitting the books.

Ian McShane, who stars as Mr. Wednesday on the Starz series based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, said Tuesday that season 2 will hew more closely to the source material than the first. McShane also served as an executive producer on the second season.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., McShane said, “Season 2 is really a great way back to the book, which I thought we got away from in season 1.… We needed to get back to the line in the book, which is reuniting Shadow [Ricky Whittle] with his story.”

He added, “Gaiman wrote a great blueprint for a TV series that can go wherever it wants as long as it remains true to the roots.”

Gaiman, who also serves as an executive producer on the series, echoed the sentiment, noting that the new season also gave him the opportunity to fill in pieces he simply did not have space for in the book but had devised, like Mad Sweeney’s (Pablo Schreiber) centuries of backstory.

He summed up season 2 by saying, “The first season thematically tended to be: Weird sh— happens and Shadow goes, ‘What the f— is going on?’ Season 2 is Shadow figuring out what is going on, and weird sh— is still happening, but now he is actually learning what’s going on.”

Jasper Savage/Starz

The panel also addressed the exit of two prominent guest stars, Kristin Chenoweth and Gillian Anderson. Gaiman said Anderson’s character, though a wonderful addition, was already feeling outdated in the modern version of this story. “Old Media was glorious,” he said. “Gillian Anderson playing Lucille Ball and Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe is wonderful, but also doesn’t feel like it’s relevant to anyone under the age of 25 who’s interested in media. When you have to explain to them all who Judy Garland in Easter Parade is…. It’s beautiful but it already feels like something that’s been overtaken.”

Gaiman said Chenoweth’s character’s storyline is not present in the events of season 2 on the page, but Easter could return in future seasons. “Somewhere up the line we are going to need Easter again,” he said. “Whether or not we get Kristin or somebody else remains to be seen. We don’t need her right now. She isn’t in season 2. Easter doesn’t actually show up until three-quarters of the way through the book.”

A third season of American Gods has yet to be announced, but is reportedly nearing confirmation at Starz. One other thing that still remains up to the gods: whether or not Gaiman might make a cameo. He’s appeared on TV shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory as himself, and also had a voice cameo as God on Lucifer (which is based on his comics), but he stressed that he’s not an actor. “I’d never say never to doing some kind of cameo or weird thing if it was appropriate,” he allowed. “But it’d have to be very appropriate and seductive.”

The rest of the cast teased that they would  hold him to that. From Gaiman’s mouth to American Gods’ ears.

American Gods returns March 10 on Starz.

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