NYCC Ricky Whittle Was an Excitable Delight at the American Gods Panel

first_img Hands-On: Monster Energy Supercross is More Exciting Than Soft DrinksCosplay Gallery: New York Comic Con 2017, Part 2 Stay on target Shadow Moon went through a lot in American Gods, both the book and the Starz TV series. Since he played such a serious, emotional role, it was a fantastic surprise to see Ricky Whittle having so much giddy fun on stage at the American Gods New York Comic Con panel. He was joined by Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney) and Yetide Badaki (Bilquis) who have clearly gotten used to Whittle’s one-man show by now. Throughout the panel, they looked on with resigned amusement as Whittle bounced in his chair, picked a fight with an Arsenal fan in the audience (he supports Manchester United), and jumped off stage to hug a fan just so he could slide back onto it John Cena-style. All these things happened during the panel, which at times was almost as surreal as the actual show. I only now remember that at the very beginning, Whittle mentioned that he’d been subsisting only on candy all day. Suddenly, everything made sense.Badaki’s drug of choice is Red Bull, which the panel described as “candy a can,” which everyone agreed was a pretty great slogan. She’s also clearly the biggest Neil Gaiman fan in the room. She told a story about the first time she met him on the set. Completely unable to speak, she politely said hello and walked away. It’s always cool to hear that even TV stars get starstruck when they meet their heroes. Even when she first found out she got the audition, the combination of Neil Gaiman, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green had her excited. When she went in, she said, she had to tell herself, “Keep it together, Yetide.”You can’t talk about American Gods without talking about immigration. It’s the foundation of the entire story. Schreiber says he appreciates the fact that the show doesn’t shy away issues of immigration, especially since it became such a huge topic in between the time they shot the season and the time it aired. Whittle added that it’s important to keep talking to each other about important issues, and he says American Gods is keeping the conversation going. “We’re keeping stuff in conversation that needs to be happening. We’re talking about immigration, we’re talking about racism, sexism, homophobia, we’re talking about gay rights, we’re talking about gun control. All this stuff matters. We have to have these conversations every day, and not having conversations, how about we start making something happen?” As naturally funny as the guy is, Ricky Whittle can get serious and inspirational in an instant.Pablo Schreiber, Yetide Badaki, Ricky WhittleOne really funny thing we learned from the panel was that Schreiber wasn’t the first person cast to play Mad Sweeney. When the show called his agent to set up an audition, the agent told them no. He’d only do it if they offered him the part outright. I guess that’s the kind of pull you get from being on Orange is the New Black. At first, they went with another guy who did an audition. They shot one scene with the guy (the Crocodile Bar scene from episode one), and then they offered Schreiber the part. Poor guy, but from the sounds of things, it led to a much better show.Badaki began telling her story of the audition, only for Whittle to break into a high-pitched “worship meeeee!” Because whether you’re discussing the book or the show, you can’t talk about Bilquis without mentioning THE SCENE. She told a fairly standard audition story about being in a room with a bunch of other actresses, reading from the script and getting chosen to the role. At that point Schreiber and Whittle started riffing on each other. “There were other people in the room, but only at the beginning of the audition,” Schreiber said. Whittle joined in and they both acted as though Badaki had… Bilquis-ed her competition. Badaki shut them down with a perfect deadpan, “you guys crack me up.”Yetide Badaki (Photo via Starz)Whittle described an “insane” audition process, which happened during his final season on The 100. He nearly didn’t get the part, and had to audition for the role 16 times. (And because of that, he has a killer Bryan Fuller impression.) The problem for them was he was too close to Shadow Moon in the book. That doesn’t sound like it would be a problem, but Whittle mentions that the Shadow of the book is mostly inner monologue. That doesn’t work on TV. They needed to bring his emotions out. “Shadow is very blase in the book,” Whittle said. “His dead wife turns up he’s like, ‘yeah, that’s my dead wife… wow.’ We had to lift Shadow off the page a bit more. He’s still broken, he’s still vulnerable. That was important because that’s how Wednesday’s able to manipulate him in the beginning of the show.” Whittle says it took a five-month process to get to the Shadow Moon we saw on the screen.They talked at length about the Crocodile Bar fight scene, because they had to shoot it twice. Fuller and Green apparently hated the set, and knew the entire time they would have to reshoot it. That turned out to be a good thing. Coming back to it at the very end, after they had shot the entire season, they knew their characters a lot better than they did on day one. The scene (and the set) are much better for it. One thing we learned though: That gash on Schreiber’s forehead after he headbutts Whittle? That’s real. Whittle made an innocent face when Schreiber brought that up and Schreiber said, “Don’t fall for it. He looks real cute, but he has a hard head.” Whittle backed up his co-star. All the blood from Mad Sweeney’s nose and lip in that scene are fake. The cut on his head is legit. Whittle didn’t escape injury during that scene, though. When he got thrown under the table and across the broken bottles on the floor, the fake glass cut his wrist up pretty bad. “The REAL way, not like I’m looking for attention,” he said, drawing audible shock from the crowd. He said the cut was bad enough that people were worried about him. The word “gushing” was used.Pablo Schreiber (Photo via Starz)Badaki’s first scene should be obvious to anyone who saw the show. She revealed a little bit of the magic that made that scene possible. The shoot, she said was very technical, involving a trap door. (Whittle: “Trap door, is THAT what you call it?”) She made sure to call out the people who work through entire nights to make those scenes happen. “I knew it was going to be an event, but seeing all that happen through the night was really something special.” She also had a cute story about the first time she met Bryan Fuller at a cast dinner. Being a gigantic sci-fi geek, she was worried that she wouldn’t fit in with the “cool” kids. It doesn’t matter how old you get, those feelings don’t really go away. Then Fuller turned to her and started talking enthusiastically about Doctor Who and Twilight Zone. “And I’m like, ‘Oh! I’m home!’” she said. Badaki mentioned that she’s had guys tell her they love her character, but they’re scared of her. “And I’m like, “Yeah! Yeah, I like that.’ I think that should be the way it is for all women.”Unfortunately, they didn’t mention anything about season two. There’s still a lot of work to be done on it, but from the sounds of things, it is happening. Schreiber did mention that if you really want to know what’s going to happen, there’s a book out with all the answers.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more