Here’s the thing you need to know about Low Key Lyesmith: he’s just like a badger. As one of the more ambiguous characters in Starz’s upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods (and trust us, that’s really saying something), actor Jonathan Tucker’s equation of Low Key to the scrappy, oft-parodied mammal actually makes a lot of sense. They’re passionate, aggressive li’l creatures with a huge protective streak—and protecting Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is exactly what Low Key is trying to do in our exclusive clip from the series’ first episode. Just like a badger.
“I love working with animals, and animal elements,” Tucker explained to us in an interview. “So [showrunner] Bryan [Fuller] and I really put our heads together and came up with this idea of [Low Key] being a like badger. And when you start to really investigate that animal, you find a lot that works and then things get very specific.”
But for all its specificity—as is so often the case with anything that Gaiman and showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green do—all may not be as it seems when it comes Shadow’s curious cellmate. Though his moments in season one are few, they help set up a much larger mystery at the heart of the story; a mystery through which Low Key is hoping to guide Shadow (sorta).
“I’m a helpful guy—but I’m also a mischievous narrator,” he quipped. Tucker went on to add that “I’m hard pressed to think of another character who’s like this that we’ve seen before as an audience,” but after a few minutes, he had one: Ian McShane’s Mr. Wednesday.
“I think audiences will hear or feel or sense that Low Key and Mr. Wednesday have their similar qualities,” Tucker explained. “They’re both really looking out for Shadow Moon, but we do it with our own sense of bravado and humor. We use those tools that one might not expect a traditional guide would employ to help our lead character navigate the world, which makes it fun to watch.”
And be sure to look beyond the surface when it comes to Low Key or any other character on this show, because—as Tucker noted—there are “these different things you’re picking up on that aren’t paid off immediately. I have these nails, you might kinda notice them maybe, but you might not. Some people might say things like, ‘what’s up with your nails?’ Or ‘what’s going on with your teeth? It seems like he’s looking at things outside of this actual, literal, physical scene that’s in front of us.'”
“They do traditional things in highly untraditional ways and it brings a lot of light and levity and dynamism to the characters and the story that I haven’t really seen before [on TV]. It’s arguably one of the wildest rides I’ve ever seen on television: it’s Black Mirror meets Twin Peaks — it’s just so out there and so fun.”
But when it comes to the bottom line, even for a badger it’s pretty simple: don’t piss off bitches at airports. Seriously.
American Gods premieres on Sunday, April 30th at 9PM on Starz. Are you looking forward to it? Let us know in the comments below.
Images and GIFs: Starz; BBCTwo
The American Gods cast explains their complex characters in their own words: