American Gods continues to be one of the most troubled television productions out there. After many high profile departures, another key component of the series, actor Orlando Jones, has announced that he was recently fired from the show. Jones played Mr. Nancy, also known as Anansi the Trickster God, on the first two seasons of the series. But he was apparently not asked to return for a third season, something he had to keep quite about for months.
In the wake of his firing, Jones took to social media to blast the show’s producers, and offered even more clarification on to just what went down in an interview with Variety. You can see his original Twitter announcement about his firing from American Gods down below:
One correction: I was fired September 10th 2019. https://t.co/sYiEgAjAby
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) December 14, 2019
After appearing in a smaller capacity in the show’s first season, Jones appeared in an expanded role in the second year. According to Jones, his role on the show actually went significantly beyond acting in season two, as he was also asked to contribute to the production and writing side of things. This in addition to playing Mr. Nancy in front of the camera. But now, according to Jones himself, he’s been fired from the show ahead of its third season. In his own words, he “got screwed over” by the production company Freemantle, and although he didn’t name names, the show’s current showrunner Charles Eglee.
Starz / Freemantle
In the interview, Jones talks about his expanded duties on season two, saying that Neil Gaiman himself asked him to create a character bible for Mr. Nancy. This is what ultimately led to his becoming a consulting producer during the second season, writing for other characters on the show. In particular, the characters of color. Because of this expanded role during season two, he was fully expected to return for a third season, and got blindsided by his dismissal. It’s also a bad look for American Gods that Mousa Kraish, who played the part of the LGBTQ Arabic god Jinn, also revealed that he was let go.
Starz / Freemantle
Freemantle issued a statement, saying “The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones’ option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon’s world that will further contribute to the show’s legacy as one of the most diverse series on television.”
But Jones doesn’t mince words on what he believes is the ultimate reasoning for his being let go, saying “He [presumably Charles Eglee] told everybody that he wrote from the black male perspective, told everybody that he thought Nancy was bad for black America.” The character of Mr. Nancy made his debut on the series’ second episode, in an amazing scene where he told the truth about the evils of American slavery to the ship’s enslaved passengers and incited them to rebel. The clip of the show went viral, particularly embraced among the show’s African-American fans. But it seems that Mr. Nancy’s fiery attitude was something that made the producers uncomfortable.
Starz / Freemantle
This is the latest in a long string of behind-the-scenes drama for the Starz adaptation of the beloved Neil Gaiman novel. The show was first developed by Hannibal series creator Bryan Fuller and his partner Michael Green. After an amazing first season, the pair left the series. And with the show’s two creative heads gone, so too went actors Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth. Jesse Alexander was then announced as co-showrunner for the second season, but he was removed as well in September 2018. Without a showrunner and heading into season two, producing director Chris Byrne and Lisa Kussner were running things. Ultimately, American Gods season two ended up premiering a full two years after this first season.
Neil Gaiman’s original plan was for the show to go five seasons, but if this kind of creative turmoil continues, it will be hard to see it even getting to a fourth at this point. Hopefully, someone out there can right this ship.
Images: Freemantle / Starz