On Tuesday, June 16th, Starz retweeted from a new Starz affiliated account— linking to a Deadline Hollywood article announcing that at long last, a live-action adaptation of American Gods had found its way out of development hell, still with Hannibal‘s Bryan Fuller at the helm.
The American Gods Twitter followed it up with a tweet encouraging fans to use the hashtag #CastingShadow (get it?) to let them know who they thought should play the role of Shadow Moon, th’ charming, hulking, taciturn protagonist.
Fans responded with over 1,000 tweets with that hashtag, and a little under 5,000 tweets about American Gods in general. Scanning through the hashtag yesterday and today, I saw a lot of people suggesting Jason Momoa, and he’s already said he’d love to do the role, after fans got him to read the book.
According to my non-scientific methods and Topsy, Jason Momoa has the largest consensus with about 200 tweets, not counting those who just tweeted with his photo or his handle (that’s also what it looks like if you take a little scroll down the hashtag). Other popular picks are The Rock, Jesse Williams (who’s on it, y’all), Vin Diesel, Joe Manganiello, and perennial favorite for every role in the universe Idris Elba. Some folks voted for a mixed race unknown still waiting to be discovered, and others voted simply for “not a white dude.”
I was one of the latter, but I’ll be honest, I was mostly pleasantly surprised by the fancasts; even one-off suggestions like Jacob Anderson (Greyworm on Game of Thrones) seemed like they could make good choices. I’ve even discovered some actors that I’m interested in checking out. Minority actors were the majority of men suggested for Shadow. Of course, that doesn’t mean that some suggestions weren’t squarely in white dudes-ville: Tom Hardy, Kit Harington, several Skarsgårds, Josh Brolin, and even one vote for Jared Padalecki. Not enough to get too het up about (definitely not a Rue situation), but enough that to add to that perpetual frustration of lack of representation everywhere.
But what’s the “correct” race for Shadow Moon? While some fans have speculated that Shadow’s mother is black based on a few spoilers, Neil Gaiman has never actually confirmed his racial and ethnic background. He has, however, confirmed that Shadow is decidedly not white, calling him “mixed-race” and stating that his heritage is difficult to discern immediately, saying that he thought The Rock or Vin Diesel had the right look for his characters.
In an interview with Den of Geek last year, Bryan Fuller specifically said, “…we know that he is not white! I think if we cast a white man to play Shadow we would be the biggest assholes on television.” That, combined with Neil Gaiman’s reluctance to option Anansi Boys when whitewashing was a possibility gives me hope that the diversity of the world of American Gods with hew close to its sources. Perhaps some fans may get a surprise when they tune in, but it’s likely it won’t be met with a groan of disappointment over another whitewashed hero.