American Gods is a must-see series. But Orlando Jones’ introduction as Mr. Nancy is the television moment of the year. Watch it now.
When American Gods casting calls hit Hollywood, one actor took it upon himself to seek out a particular role. And whoa-boy are we glad he did. Orlando Jones not only landed the role, but he blew everyone away with his performance.
Mr. Nancy aka Anasi the trickster God, shares his “Coming to America” story in “The Secret of Spoons.” Aboard a slave ship heading to America, the god appears to the chained slaves in his finest silks.
Who’s to say what his intentions were aboard that particular ship. Our best guess — to prove that he is not only capable of brewing discontent, but he can reach into the heart and mind to arouse fear, and anger then direct that passion to work for his benefit.
Watch Mr. Nancy’s introduction on ‘American Gods’
How Orlando Jones’ entrance shook things up
Bryan Fuller and Michael Green knew they struck something when Orlando Jones began his opening speech.
“One of the things that’s a great gift from the book is that it is about American culture, and American immigration culture. That has all sorts of fascinating extrapolations and delves into some very upsetting history with this country that’s sadly rearing it’s head again,” said Fuller in the American Gods press junket.
“It wasn’t so much about wanted to be inflammatory with the issues as we wanted to represent the America that we are living in.”
This scene, and most of the others, were written well before the conventions for the 2016 election took place. As the election results rolled in, the meaning behind some of the scenes shot became more pertinent.
“When we were filming the slave ship sequence with Orlando, that was our first indication that we had struck something. It was 30 or 40 black actors on a ship and Orlando has this mohawk of a speech and after he did his first take all of the actors stood and gave him a standing ovation on stage. That’s never happened in anything that I’ve experienced,” says Fuller of Jones’ entrance.
But going into that scene Fuller says that it wasn’t about getting a reaction from the crowd. Fuller continues, “When we saw Orlando bring it to like we were like, ‘Oh we just wanted to tell something authentically.’ And we have an actor who set it on fire in a way that we didn’t imagine.”
Orlando Jones becomes Mr. Nancy
As previously mentioned, long before the scripts hit his doorstep Jones connected with something in Mr. Nancy. “It’s a wonderfully written piece and amazingly poignant,” says Jones.
“It’s one of those elements that I think I will always cherish throughout my career. Because he’s a character I really wanted to play, but he’s also saying things in the way that I hoped that one day they would be said. But not apologetically and not as an accusation. But as an invitation into the insanity that it has been and to a conclusion which is if we are really angry we should get shit done.”
‘It’s a wonderfully written piece and amazingly poignant’
Mr. Nancy is one iteration of the god Anansi.
“It’s really about his use of trickery, his use of cunning as a spider in the same way that people of the African persuasion had to use their cunning in order to survive the dastardly circumstances they found themselves in throughout slavery and their human rights being taken away,” Jones previews.
“You don’t know where Mr. Nancy stands, or what he’s up to, or why he is doing what he is doing.” The introduction of Anansi is only the tip of the iceberg for this Old God.
What do you think of Mr. Nancy’s ‘American Gods’ debut?
American Gods season 1, episode 2, “The Secret of Spoons,” airs Sunday, May 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Starz. Catch up now on the Starz app!