The last few days have seen Orlando Jones give extensive commentary on why he was fired from his role as Mr. Nancy on American Gods. In the most recent interview with the actor, he talked about his disappointment with how the show handled his departure, and how they made the case personal. One of the key elements to Jones’ criticism was how he clashed with the series’ producers over their representation of race, something that production company Fremantle have now come out to deny.
A spokesperson for Fremantle gave a statement to Deadline about the controversy, and made the argument that there were other reasons for why Jones lost his role on the show. The spokesperson commented on these circumstances as follows:
“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 3.”
While not directly responding to Jones’ criticism of new showrunner Charles H. Eglee, Fremantle have understandably underlined their commitment to diversity within the American Gods cast in season 3 of the series, remarking as so:
“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.”
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Fremantle’s comments, while worded carefully to avoid being pulled into a more damaging debate with Jones, do seem to suggest that there were broader reasons behind why the actor was let go. In addition, American Gods has made a commitment to diversity in its casting, and its existing portrayal of Jones’ Mr. Nancy certainly doesn’t hold back from presenting the history of slavery in the United States.
For now, it appears that we don’t know the full story of the dispute between Jones and Eglee, or indeed the rest of the production staff on American Gods. Based on the comments that Jones has made to the press and on social media, though, there does seem to be a personal aspect to the firing that he felt was avoidable. Although more comments are likely to come out in the next week, much of this will likely depend on Jones, with Fremantle having made their official statement. And of course, if we hear anything new on this dispute, we’ll be sure to share it, so watch this space for updates.