Your Handy Guide to the Many, Many Characters in American Gods
The adaptation of Neil Gaiman's sprawling fantasy masterpiece, American Gods, has finally arrived on TV screens. The highly anticipated Starz series follows Shadow Moon (played by Ricky Whittle), an ex-con, who finds himself caught up in a mysterious battle between good and evil after getting out of prison, which involves a very unique cast of characters. Whether you're just now encountering the world of American Gods, or you simply need a refresher on all of the key players, read on to get the low down on everyone involved in Shadow's story.
When we first meet Shadow, he's getting released early from his three-year stint in prison. Sadly the news is bittersweet, since the reason for his early release is because his beloved wife, Laura, has died in a car crash. On the way home he meets a peculiar con-artist named Mr. Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Though he's skeptical of Wednesday's intentions, Shadow accepts the position and finds himself embracing a mysterious, magical new fate.
Although Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) has his charming moments, the charismatic grifter is quick to dole out harsh punishments. He doesn't tell Shadow the whole story when he first hires him, but it's clear he's extremely powerful in his massive circle of friends, which he and Shadow travel all across America (and beyond) to meet.
Bilquis (Yetide Badaki) is just as dangerous as she is seductive. She's an ancient love goddess of sorts (potentially the Queen of Sheba), who becomes more and more powerful as people worship her. Her craving for the reverence she experienced in the old world could lead to her undoing.
Peter Stormare plays Czernobog, the Slavic god of darkness and evil. A brutal and gruesome character, Mr. Wednesday calls on him for help as his situation grows more desperate. Since Czernobog's past hobbies include bludgeoning cows to death, you can imagine the amount of carnage and havoc his presence will reap.
Mr. Nancy (played by Orlando Jones, a brilliant casting choice) is the "human" embodiment of Anasi, an African trickster spider god. His predilection for bright suits, cracking jokes at Shadow's expense, and creating utter chaos makes him a fun, but unreliable, addition to the crew.
Pompeii actress Emily Browning is on board as Laura Moon, Shadow's ill-fated wife. Though she tragically dies just days before reuniting with her husband, Laura gets a second chance to make amends as an ethereal member of the undead. Though her heart is no longer pumping blood, it's still overflowing with love for Shadow, and she is a key part in helping him make it out of Mr. Wednesday's battle successfully.
Ever wished you could meet a seven-foot-tall leprechaun? Say hello to Mad Sweeney (Orange Is the New Black's Pablo Schreiber). The alcoholic brawler and frenemy of Mr. Wednesday is unparalleled in his sleight of hand, but he's down on his luck as of late.
Like Czernobog, Zorya Polunochnaya (Erika Kaar) is one of the old gods of Slavic mythology. She's the goddess of the Midnight Star, and is the youngest of her sisters — Zorya Utrennyaya (the Morning Star) and Zorya Vechernyaya (the Evening Star) — who she lives with in an apartment in Chicago. The connection she strikes up with Shadow early on in the story is an important one.
Zorya Vechernyaya (the great Cloris Leachman) is the vodka-loving Evening star, and the eldest of three sisters who watch over the constellations to keep ancient horrors from plaguing modern-day humanity.
Easter (Kristin Chenoweth) — also known as Ostara, goddess of Spring — and although she comes off as sweet, bright, and bubbly, she wields an incredible amount of power.
While the old gods represent everything humans used to worship, Techincal Boy (Bruce Langley) is one of the new gods, who manifested due to humanity's addiction to and worship of technology. He's also supremely douchey (which you'll no doubt pick up on thanks to the stretch limousine he rides around in and his love of vaping), and his arrogance leads him to try to steal Shadow away from Mr. Wednesday.
The X-Files star Gillian Anderson steps into the shoes of Media, a new god whose skills of persuasion allow her to manipulate those around her more efficiently than her counterparts, who prefer brute force. Like Technical Boy, she attempts to woo Shadow over to their side.
Mr. Wednesday's biggest adversary is Mr. World (Crispin Glover). The mysterious, black-suited, omniscient leader of the new gods holds an astounding amount of power, which poses a major threat to Wednesday, Shadow, and the rest of the old gods.
Low Key Lyesmith
Shadow first meets Low Key Lyesmith (Jonathan Tucker) in prison, where he gives him some helpful travel advice ("Do not piss off those bitches in airports"). He's also Loki, the Norse trickster god, who naturally has a pretty big scam in the works.