American Gods Star Ricky Whittle Got Crazy Political At New York Comic-Con

"It doesn't get more on the nose than that."


American Gods star Ricky Whittle opened the Starz show's New York Comic-Con panel today with some politics, to the delight of most members of the audience.

"It's an important show, and we were just very fortunate. The book came out in 2001. We wrapped before the inauguration and all kinds of shit hit the fan, to be quite honest. We were just fortunate that we happened to feature all these themes in our show. And it's very important that we don't make this normal, this kind of way of life that we seem to be living at the moment," he said. "We were like, 'Never gonna happen.' But it did! 'It's not gonna get worse.' It did! 'Yeah, but they don't do that.' They did! That can't ever, ever, ever, ever become normal, where we're just like, ugh, what's happening today? No. Excuse my language, f**k that. No."

"I don't want to get too political," he said after an uproarious round of applause. ("A little late for that," interjected Pablo Schreiber, who plays Mad Sweeney on American Gods.)

"I was really inspired yesterday morning," Whittle continued. "I was in the gym, and a soldier was talking to me, and he said, 'I didn't put my life on the line for anyone to tell people--free people, never mind the president--what they're allowed to kneel for in their life.' It's not about the flag. It's not about the anthem. Colin Kaepernick and all these sports stars love America. They love the flag. They love the anthem. It's never been about that, and we need to focus on what it's about. And with our show, we're keeping stuff in conversation which needs to be happening. We're talking about immigration. We're talking about racism, sexism. We're talking bout homophobia. We're talking about gay rights. We're talking about gun control. All of this stuff matters. All of this stuff cannot be normal. We need to be having these conversations every day. And not just having conversations--how about we start making stuff happen?"

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"I pissed myself laughing when Kanye said he was going to run," he concluded. "I will take Kanye in a second." The crowd's cheers drowned out any further politicizing.

Whittle's not exaggerating when he emphasizes American Gods' culturally relevant content. He said the scene where his character Shadow Moon--a man of color--gets lynched by a mob of faceless white creatures was especially powerful for him.

"We seem to think that this stuff's over...these racist bits, they're important, and we need to keep raising them up," he said. "You have a black man being hung by a tree surrounded by faceless goons dressed all in white. It doesn't get more on the nose than that, and it really is powerful."

"I think that's one of the real strengths of the show, to be honest with you," Schreiber said later. "We have a story that is about immigration. It's about all of the different voices and kinds of people that have lent themselves to create this country and make it what it is, and so it's being told by a number of outsiders--a number of immigrants to this country, people who live here now, without an outsider's point of view on it. And that's what's important about the show. That's why it is what it is."

Beyond all that, the cast mainly discussed stories from set and their audition processes. Yetide Badaki, who plays Bilquis, revealed that her character's infamous introduction on the show--in which the Goddess of Love swallows a man into her vagina--was the first scene she shot.

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"That's when I realized--I already knew this [show] was going to be an event, but seeing all of that was truly something special," she said.

The cast and moderator, Vulture's Abraham Reisman, made sure to note that they weren't going to reveal anything about American Gods Season 2, but Schreiber did let one thing slip. He said the show going forward will feature more episodes that focus on one character's story, like the Season 1 episode "A Prayer For Mad Sweeney," which explored Schreiber's character's backstory. "I know that we're going to have opportunities for all of the cast to have their own, like, sort of standalone things where you really get to focus on one character for an entire episode," he said. "So I'm excited for everybody else to do those as well."

Other than that little tidbit, the American Gods panel at New York Comic-Con didn't offer fans much in the way of Season 2 teases. But everyone who was in the audience knows that we'll always have Ricky Whittle's epic rant.

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