Dream-Casting Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods'

When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was released a decade ago, fans loved debating what actors they envisioned playing the titular characters from the novel. Well, recently it was announced that HBO would be turning the Hugo Award winner into a television series, and like Easter breathing life back into Shadow, the fan casting discussions have begun anew, and MTV Geek has decided to get in on the act, as well.

So below is a “perfect world” scenario for the casting of a number of the main characters in American Gods wherein budgets, schedules, odds of probability, popularity, and in one case even an actor’s death, are not a factor. Of course, this cast will never happen, but wouldn’t it be amazing if it did?


In the novel, Shadow is a thirty-two year old physical trainer. A big, hulking, muscular guy with dark hair, "cream and coffee" colored skin and a “don’t-f**k-with-me” look. One of the prison guards asks Shadow if he is a "spic" or a "gypsy” and questions if he has any African American blood in him. At one point another character asks Shadow if he is Native American.

It’s almost as if Gaiman was writing an exact physical description of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when he created Shadow. The actor’s multi-racial heritage and enormous stature make him the perfect choice for the character. Vin Diesel could be a close second. In “real world” casting we’d probably have to settle for someone more affordable like Dominic Purcell (the older brother from the FOX TV series Prison Break).

Mr. Wednesday

With a "grayish red" beard and "reddish gray" hair, Mr. Wednesday has a "craggy, square face” and “pale gray eyes". He is always impeccably dressed in designer suits and the character walks a perfect line between creepy and endearing. He is old, and tired, and his sarcastic humor and quick temper would be played perfectly by actor Rip Torn. Brian Cox would be a good fit, too.

Mr. Nancy

Gaiman describes Anansi as a little, old African American man with a "pencil moustache"." He wears a gaudy, checkered suit and bright, yellow gloves and is always smoking a small, thin cigar. He has a "dazzling smile" and a wicked sense of humor. Ossie Davis and Scatman Crothers might both be dead, but there aren’t two actors more suited to play the role of Mr. Nancy. If we had to pick someone still alive, veteran SNL cast member Garrett Morris would do nicely.


Czernobog is a bitter, old man with a gray and “craggy” face. He used to be strong enough to kill a cow with one stroke of a sledgehammer but time has withered him. He has a rough and hoarse voice from years of smoking and yellow, nicotine stained fingertips and teeth. Christopher Walken or Martin Landau would make a great Czernobog.

Mad Sweeney

The self-described leprechaun has a "short ginger beard", wears a ratty jean jacket and stained white shirt. He no longer has his Irish accent, thanks to the centuries he’s spent living in America, but like any good Irishman he loves to drink and fight. There are a number of actors who would do this character justice. Take your pick from Dennis Leary, Paul Bettany, Robert Carlyle or Rys Ifans.


This curvaceous, full-figured goddess exudes sex appeal. Her long hair is so blonde it’s nearly white and she has thick, full, red lips and bright, beautiful, green eyes. Easter is a stunning woman that is somewhat ageless, as Shadow thinks she could be anywhere between “twenty-five and fifty”. Dye her hair and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks would be pitch perfect.

The Tech Boy

This limo riding, acne-covered, fat boy is the obnoxious teenage god of technology and dresses in all black. Jonah Hill would be a nice fit. Or Riley Griffiths, the fat kid from Super 8.

Let us know who you think would be the best choice to play Shadow and the rest of the characters!

Related Posts:

Happy 10th Birthday, Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods!'

Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' Coming To HBO


Discuss this story in our Comics forums! Follow @MTVGeek on Twitter and be sure to "like" us on Facebook for the best geek news about comics, toys, gaming and more!