Amazon Studios announced Thursday that Goldberg will join the cast as Bird Woman in the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s modern fantasy novel. Goldberg’s character is the God of Birds and will serve as the main villain opposite protagonist Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby).
According to the character’s description: “She’s the embodiment of birds. Not just beautiful stately birds in flight. Anyone who’s had a close encounter with a seagull knows that some birds are more dangerous than others, and Bird Woman is the most dangerous of them all. Long ago Anansi did her wrong. Now may be her chance to turn the tables.”
Goldberg will play just one of the many gods who are part of the World Before Time, described as “a place that isn’t a place, whre the animals who are gods still walk. A place of incredible beauty, magic and danger.”
Goldberg said in a statement how she feels about joining the cast. “I have been a fan of this book for a very long time and when Neil Gaiman told me it was being brought to the screen, I did everything I could to be part of it to help make people aware of Anansi and all his magic,” she said.
Gaiman, who serves as co-showrunner, writer, and executive producer, said he’d always thought of Goldberg as Bird Woman when writing the book.
“When I first conceived Anansi Boys, decades ago, I imagined Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman. I wasn’t able to meet her until 2018, when she interviewed me with some of the Good Omens team at New York Comic Con,” he said in a statement. “At which point she mentioned that she had just finished listening to Sir Lenny Henry’s reading of Anansi Boys, and that it was one of her favourite books. Sometimes things feel planned and inevitable, and we are incredibly lucky. She’s going to be scary.”
Set in sprawling locations including contemporary London, Florida, and the Caribbean and currently filming in Scotland, Anansi Boys follows Charlie as he discovers the true nature of his father (Delroy Lindo) and learns of the world of gods. As the official description states:
Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy (Kirby)—sometimes known as Fat Charlie (it was his father’s nickname for him; he’s not fat)—a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that he was Anansi: Trickster God of stories (Lindo). And he learns that he has a brother. Now that brother, Spider (also played by Kirby), is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting—but making it a lot more dangerous instead.
Also cast is Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Tiger, who is angry with Anansi for “seatling the stories, for making fun of him, and for coming out on top.” Tiger is out for the blood of Anansi and his entire bloodline. In fact, most of the gods hate Anansi including the “proud and noble” Lion (Emmanuel Ighodaro), the “old and wise” Elephant (Celia Noble) and the “beautiful and deadly” Snake (Ayanna Witter-Johnson). Don Gilet also stars as Monkey, who loves food and is scared of Anansi.
Other cast members include Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn as Rosie Noah, Grace Saif as Detective Constable Daisy Day, Jason Watkins as Grahame Coats, Fiona Shaw as Maeve Livingstone, CCH Pounder as Mrs. Higgler, L. Scott Caldwell as Mrs. Dunwiddy, Joy Richardson as Mrs. Bustamonte, and Lachele Carl as Miss Noles.
Gaiman, Henry, Douglas Mackinnon, Hanelle M. Culpepper, Endor Productions’ Hilary Bevan Jones (Endor Productions), and RED Production Company’s Richard Fee are executive producers. Gaiman and Mackinnon are also co-showrunners. Gaiman and Henry are writing with Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori. Gaiman and Mackinnon serve as co-showrunners. Culpepper (Star Trek: Picard, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) directs the pilot. Paul Frift serves as producer.