American Gods has found its Shadow.
Deadline reports that the upcoming Starz series American Gods, based on the 2001 novel by Neil Gaiman, has cast Ricky Whittle in the lead role of the mysterious Shadow Moon.
According to the article, with Shadow Moon cast, the series will begin shooting in April. A number of scripts have already been written, and Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said at the Television Critics Association earlier this month that the network brass are happy with what they've read so far.
The television adaptation will focus on the mysterious Shadow, a man who is released from prison a few days early after serving a three year sentence for bank robbery when his beloved wife Laura is killed in a car accident. Flying home for the funeral, Shadow is seated next to a man who introduces himself only as Mr. Wednesday, and this man knows more about Shadow's life, both past and present, than is possible. Shadow comes to learn that Wednesday is, in fact, the god Odin of Norse mythology and that all of the gods that mankind has ever believed in are alive in human form and live among us. Shadow is soon thrust into a gathering conflict between the Old Gods and the so-called "New Gods," the gods of money and technology, who believe there is no longer room on Earth for the Old Gods.
Whittle, 34, is an English actor best known as Lincoln on The 100. He's also had roles on the series Mistresses, NCIS, Single Ladies, Hollyoaks, and Dream Team. In addition, Whittle plays running back for the Manchester Titans American Football Club.
The article also reports that Albrecht and American Gods executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green had repeatedly stressed the importance and challenge of finding the right actor to play the lead character in the adaptation because of Shadow’s unique heritage and look in the books, with the prototype being a younger Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Whittle was among the actors who tested for the role last September, but Starz apparently held onto him while exploring other options, with more testings and retestings until Whittle was cast.
American Gods is produced by FremantleMedia North America. Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are writers and showrunners. David Slade (Hannibal) is directing the pilot and additional episodes. FMNA’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk are executive producers on the series along with Fuller, Green, Slade and Gaiman. FremantleMedia will distribute the series worldwide.
American Gods is expected to debut on Starz sometime in 2017.