Orlando Jones says he was fired from American Gods, Mr. Nancy sent 'wrong message'
In a searing video message shared on his Twitter account Saturday morning, Orlando Jones says he was fired from American Gods season 3 and alleges new showrunner Charles Eglee decided his character, Mr. Nancy, sends "the wrong message for black America."
"I know ya'll have LOTS of questions about the firing," Jones prefaced in a tweet. "As always I promise to tell you the truth and nothing but [love]."
According to the actor, who played Mr. Nancy and offered significant writing and producing contributions to season 2 after the departure of original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, he was fired on Sep. 10, 2019.
"There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don't let these motherf–ers tell you they love Mr. Nancy. They don't," Jones says in the video. "I'm not going to name names but the new season 3 showrunner [Eglee] is Connecticut born and Yale-educated, so he's very smart and he thinks that Mr. Nancy's angry, get sh– done is the wrong message for black America. That's right. This white man sits in that decision-making chair and I'm sure he has many black bffs who are his advisors and made it clear to him that if he did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy he'd start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?"
A spokesperson for American Gods responded with the following statement:
"The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones' option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon's world that will further contribute to the show's legacy as one of the most diverse series on television."
A rep for Eglee also released a statement claiming, "Mr. Jones is wrong on multiple counts, the least of which is Mr. Eglee was not born in Connecticut."
In subsequent tweets, Jones called Fremantle, which also produces American Gods, "a nightmare" that "treated you like a 2nd class citizen for doing your job [too] well."
"They were exceptionally nasty and evil the way they did it," he added.
Gabrielle Union, whom Jones tagged in his tweet about Fremantle, weighed in on the news. Fremantle produces both American Gods and America's Got Talent, and Union's apparent firing from the latter show has been a widely tracked story.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhh," she tweeted to Jones. "Let's chat my friend #StrongerTogether."
American Gods, based on author Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name, began as the adaptation brainchild of Fuller and Green, who cast Jones as Mr. Nancy. Amid the story about a war between gods of classical mythologies and the gods of modernity, Mr. Nancy, an African trickster deity, became a lens through which to address modern racial issues in America. Fuller and Green had also previously said they welcomed Jones' input to ensure they were getting the character right.
In an interview with EW in 2018, as the cast previewed the second season, Jones discussed moving more into writing and producing following two changes in the show's leadership. He noted "mass incarceration" and "human trafficking," topics he said "no one [in dramatic television] is talking about, that it's not on anyone's radar."
The show cycled through multiple showrunners amid reports about behind-the-scenes conflict, and now Eglee heads American Gods for the still-in-production season 3.
Jones, in his video message, thanked Gaiman for creating the world of American Gods and for "opening the door" for him to become a writer-producer on season 2. He also thanked Fuller and Green for casting him in the role. "I hope the fans enjoyed it," he says, "'cause really this is about you."
This article has been updated with a response from Gabrielle Union, as well as statements from Fremantle and Eglee.