“It’s been a year and a half since Starz announced it would be putting together a lavish TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’spopular fantasy novel American Gods. Little news about the project has emerged since then until today when the network announced that they had chosen Ricky Whittle ofThe 100 fame to play the book’s brooding hero, Shadow.
Shadow is a racially ambiguous character with “coffee and cream” skin and a mother who may have been either Native American or African-American. Oftentimes, when the physical descriptions of a book character are that loose, the tendency in Hollywood is to cast a white actor. (See: Katniss Everdeen.)
Dream casting for Shadow that cropped up online usually mentioned the likes of Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa or Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, but there was some concern from die-hard fans of the novel that the show would go in a lighter direction. But in the midst of a larger conversation about Hollywood’s tendency to whitewash, and in the same week Joseph Fiennes was tapped to play Michael Jackson, Starz went with the distinctly not white Whittle.
Fans are delighted that Whittle is every inch the prison-hardened bouncer described in the book.
Gaiman addressed the importance of Shadow’s appearance in a statement about Whittle’s casting:
I’m thrilled that Ricky has been cast as Shadow. His auditions were remarkable. The process of taking a world out of the pages of a book, and putting it onto the screen has begun. American Gods is, at its heart, a book about immigrants, and it seems perfectly appropriate that Shadow will, like so much else, be Coming to America. I’m delighted Ricky will get to embody Shadow. Now the fun starts…