The below new clip from Starz’s “American Gods” series introduces us to Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy – the old trickster god of West African folklore more commonly known as Anansi, who also spills over into author Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” follow-up, “Anansi Boys” – another novel that just might be adapted for the screen.
In the clip, Jones as Mr. Nancy paints an emphatically grim and unapologetically honest portrait of what awaits a group of slaves on a slave ship, bound for the so-called “New World” – but not just what awaits these slaves specifically; also what will come decades and even centuries later for those who come after them – their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc.
“100 years later, you’re f*cked! 100 years after that, f*cked; 100 years after you get free you’re still getting fucked…” Mr. Nancy exclaims, as his audience looks on, attentive, some showing anger at what they’re hearing from this prophet, which he notices, singling out one of them, leaning in and almost growling, “Angry is good… Angry gets sh*t done.”
Jones as Mr. Nancy is scheduled to make his first appearance in “American Gods” the series during this Sunday’s episode, titled “The Secret of Spoon,” airing on May 7 at 9pm. Check out the clip below.
As for an “Anansi Boys” screen adaptation, earlier this year, before the premier of “American Gods,” FremantleMedia NORTH AMERICA (FMNA), continuing the expansion of its scripted television business, announced it had entered into an exclusive, multi-year first look agreement with author Neil Gaiman. FMNA and Gaiman first began their relationship when the two joined forces to adapt Gaiman’s “American Gods.”
This new far-reaching agreement will provide opportunities for FMNA and Gaiman to adapt any of his uniquely wide ranging works – from novels to short stories – for television.
And with this news, one has to wonder whether Gaiman’s “Anansi Boys” novel (which is essentially an “American Gods” spin-off) will also get the same treatment as “American Gods” has, whether at Starz or at some other network.
It seems more possible now than it’s ever been given the above deal. And to further support the likelihood, add this excerpt from Orlando Jones, courtesy of a Vanity Fair interview he gave before the premiere of “American Gods.”
Vanity Fair: As soon as you were cast, a lot of people got really excited about the prospect of an ‘Anansi Boys’ spin-off. I know Anansi isn’t technically the star of that story, but have you heard any rumblings of a potential TV series?
Orlando Jones: All I know for sure is that when Michael [Green, writer and executive producer] and Bryan [Fuller, executive producer] had called me and asked me about playing the character and walked me through what they were thinking, part of the discussion at that time was ‘Anansi Boys,’ and that they wanted to spin it off and pursue that character. As you know, the first season is really about setting up the world of ‘American Gods’ and introducing you to all the wonderful characters. If there is a spin-off of any kind, I’d love to do it. I love this character. I love these writers. I’ve been fortunate that this is one of the most exciting and incredible experiences I’ve been able to do as an actor, and I’ll continue for as long as I possibly can.”
So it’s not a confirmation that an “Anansi Boys” spin-off series is definitely going to happen; but what Jones shared, in addition to the fact that FreemantleMedia and Gaiman inked a deal that will see more of the author’s works adapted for the screen, all help support the possibility that an “Anansi Boys” spin-off might happen.
“Anansi Boys” centers on the sons of the West African spider-god. It was to become a BBC mini-series produced by Red in 2014/2015 – a company that’s been responsible for some of the biggest UK hits of recent years including “Last Tango in Halifax,” and “Scott and Bailey.”
At the time, Gaiman said: “Yes, I’m really thrilled about both of these things. Fremantle has the harder task, as they are going to have to open up ‘American Gods’ into something bigger than the book. Red are just going to have to make an absolutely brilliant faithful version of ‘Anansi Boys.'”
When asked for more information 2 years ago, a Red spokesperson said everyone was “very excited” but couldn’t elucidate further, adding, “I’m afraid we are in very early development with Neil at the moment.”
Gaiman once said that Morgan Freeman was his choice to play Mr. Nancy; he also said that, while writing the main character of “Anansi Boys,” Charlie Nancy (Mr. Nancy’s son), he had actor and comedian Lenny Henry in mind, who later narrated the audio-book of the novel. Although the book was first published 12 years ago, and Henry is now 58, much older than the character is written in the novel, so it’s unlikely that if the book does become a TV series, Lenny Henry won’t be starring in it. And neither will Morgan Freeman.
If readers found “American Gods” hard to classify, they will be equally nonplussed but very entertained by Gaiman’s awesome mingling of the mundane and the fantastic in “Anansi Boys.” In the novel, “Fat Charlie” Nancy, as he’s called, leads a workaholic life in London, with a stressful job he doesn’t much like, and a pleasant fiancée, Rosie. When Charlie learns of the death of his estranged father in Florida, he attends the funeral and learns two facts that turn his well-ordered existence upside-down: that his father was a human form of Anansi, the West African trickster god, and that he has a brother named Spider, who has inherited some of their father’s godlike abilities. Spider comes to visit Charlie and gets him fired from his job, steals his fiancée, and is instrumental in having him arrested for embezzlement and suspected of murder. When Charlie resorts to magic to get rid of Spider, things begin to go very badly for just about everyone.
While we wait to hopefully hear more about “Anansi Boys,” watch Orlando Jones’ “American Gods” intro as the prophetic Mr. Nancy.