Starz’s new original series, AMERICAN GODS, begins airing April 30th. The Knockturnal got to sit down with several of the stars, including Crispin Glover and Orlando Jones. Glover plays Mr. World, while Jones plays Mr. Nancy. Both characters are two “gods” in the world of the series. The two stars talk with us about their roles in AMERICAN GODS, and the broader themes the show tackles.
THE KNOCKTURNAL: We meet your character (Mr. Nancy) within the first couple of episodes, and you also get one of the ‘Coming to America’ vignettes. What was it like to be part of one of these specific immigration storylines, and how did it resonate with you as an actor?
Orlando Jones: Always fun to do a scene on a slave ship. Always wanted to do that (laughs). It’s always fun to talk about things that are so contemporary, and resonate a lot in the conversations me and my friends are having anyway. And always a bit daunting to do that, because those things are often received so many different ways by different people. But all in all, I’m excited to be a part of this type of project, that I think tackles those themes, and it’s interesting to look at the portion of America who didn’t have an immigrant journey. That’s the journey of somebody who was captured, and whose rights were stolen from them, and they found themselves coming to this country, not with the same journey that some of the other people do. In that sense, it’s an important story to tell, because that’s a huge part of the American culture as well. So, fun to talk about, and certainly interesting to do it in a way that isn’t telling people they’re wrong for what they think, but more inviting them to take a look at what ultimately transpired, and hopefully find a path forward that makes sense.
Crispin, we don’t meet your character until later on in the series, but you play Mr. World, which is a heck of a daunting task. What kind of world view would you say your character embodies, and how does it reflect the modern day?
Crispin Glover: I would say “we are the world, we are the children.”
You are the one who makes a better day, and therefor you start giving?
Jones: But there’s a choice we’re making, because we’re saving our own lives. It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me.
Glover: (laughs) Well, I mean, there’s a bit a humor with what I was saying. But this whole piece works in metaphor, and metaphor is not something we’re seeing so much of in these past thirty years of corporately funded and distributed entertainment media. And metaphor is so, so important, and we’re really kind of starving for it. Because with metaphor, the audience is required to bring something of their own thought process. They have to figure something out – it isn’t dictated to the audience what they’re supposed to be thinking, necessarily. That really makes it an audience’s own, it becomes their own thing, which is much more powerful. This piece is so well-written, it was just evident that it was a good thing to be a part of, so I’m grateful to be a part of it.
Were either of you familiar with the source material, including the spin-off for Mr. Nancy?
Jones: I read both, and I’m a fan of both. Obviously, I knew of Mr. Nancy as a part of African history, and from my family and what have you. I discovered Neil Gaiman’s version of it in American Gods and Anansi Boys, and I fell in love with it. Mr. World here, Crispin, has not read the book, and one of the things I love about it is that we both fell in love with the piece, but me from this complete fan point of view, from the book, and him from having not read the book, but just loving the stories and the metaphors. It’s really kind of wonderful
Glover: And I’d worked with Neil Gaiman before on BEOWULF, so I knew him as a person. I could tell he was a good person, with good moral sensibilities. I knew he was a great writer –
Jones: – well endowed –
Glover: – all of these things. But also, I then met with Bryan and Michael, and they were describing this specific piece, and I could tell this was really interesting material. Then they sent it to me, I read it, and it was just – like I said a minute ago, it’s so exceptionally well-written. There were these metaphorical elements that were very important to me. I make my own films, and there are thematic elements that are in my own films that I’m reacting to. Certain things about corporate control in entertainment that really gets to me. And my own films are very different, on so many levels, but I aspire towards this excellent metaphorical storytelling that Neil Gaiman is definitely masterful with. The way that Bryan and Michael are making the dramaturgy of it, and the whole way it’s being put forth, I’m just grateful to be a part of it.