Though critically acclaimed, American Gods has had a rough time behind-the-scenes throughout its run. The first season was helmed by Hannibal‘s Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, only for them to simultaneously leave the show after that old classic ‘creative differences.’ Jesse Alexander then took the reins for season 2, only to also quickly depart and was replaced by The Walking Dead‘s Chic Eglee for the upcoming third season.
At this point, you have to imagine that the producers hoped the backstage drama was over. Well, think again. Two days ago, star Orlando Jones, who plays Mr. Nancy, was fired from the show after tangling with Eglee. Following his dismissal, Jones put out a statement saying:
“September 10, 2018, I was fired from American Gods. There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don’t let these motherfuckers tell you they love Mr. Nancy; they don’t. [The showrunner] thinks Mr. Nancy’s angry, get shit 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 they 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?”
He went on to clarify in a tweet that “they were exceptionally nasty and evil the way they did it.” Yikes.
Now, the show’s star, Ricky Whittle, has commented on the situation, stating the following:
“Orlando Jones is an incredible talent and friend I look up to, support and I hope we work together again. He was fun to work with, gave me seasoned advice and constantly gave award-worthy performances as Mr Nancy. Nothing but love for him. I’m unable to speak on his situation as I have no knowledge of what has transpired, I was not addressed nor am I privy to any decisions made regarding cast/storyline.
“Speaking only from my personal experience, Chic personally has really had my back since day one, wanting to explore shadow in more depth, I am extremely proud of the stories we are telling in in season 3 and have really enjoyed shooting the season thus far, in which we continue Shadow’s story deeper and his journey to Lakeside, the next part of Neil Gaiman’s wonderful book. I’ve been blessed with incredible casting for all of the many distinctive characters Shadow has come across on his journey, including the wonderful Mr. Nancy, and look forward to meeting more and sharing Shadows next chapters this season and beyond.”
So, pretty boilerplate stuff then, which is understandable, as divisions like this on a show can’t be easy to navigate. No doubt the cast have formed strong friendships after two seasons together, so to see one of them fired in this manner and for these reasons can’t sit well with anyone.
American Gods has seen showrunners come and go by the seasons and now, I suspect Chic Eglee may not be around to run the fourth outing. Perhaps under a new showrunner Jones may be re-hired? I certainly hope so, because Mr. Nancy was one of the best things about the series.