If you are a fellow reader of Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods you probably agree with us that casting Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday in the upcoming Starz adaptation was a stroke of genius. Mr. Wednesday is smart, suave, cool, and underhanded, with an authority and power to him that exudes from even the quietest of statements or subtlest of nods. It’s hard to ever really know what’s going on with him, but it’s impossible not to follow him and be enamored by everything he does, and McShane possesses everything you’d want from an actor taking on that role.
You know what actor that description isn’t immediately associated with? Nicolas Cage, but–somehow, someway–we apparently almost ended up with him in the role. Cage told the Los Angeles Times that he was offered the chance to play Mr. Wednesday, but that even though it was a “great part” that was “beautifully written,” he said no.
There’s a saying in sports that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make, and we can’t stop thinking about that when imagining Nicolas Cage as Mr. Wednesday, because it’s so obviously a weird idea.
At this point in his career, Cage brings a lot of baggage to any role, since he’s played roughly 3 million characters, most of them like a crazy man. Even though he can be a great–even understated–actor on rare occasions (he does have a deserved Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, and his performance in Adaptation was even better), for the most part, his style can be described as “madness with a megaphone.” In the right situation that works great, but that is certainly not Mr. Wednesday.
Also, his celebrity would feel out of whack with the cast, which has the right balance of faces we know and faced we don’t, without feeling like a vehicle for some mega star. The world that American Gods inhabits is so unique in its voice that being removed from it would undercut the whole show. We here at Nerdist have been completely obsessed with this upcoming series, but we’re not sure how excited we’d be if anyone else were playing Mr. Wednesday besides McShane, much less Nicolas “Not the Bees” Cage.
But what do you think? Could Cage have pulled off the part? Or do you think he was all wrong for it? What about for another character maybe? Could he have played Mad Sweeney for example? Tell us what you think of this report in the comments below, because we clearly are confused enough by this that we need to talk it out.
Images: Buena Vista Pictures/Starz/Warner Bros.