American Gods: Ricky Whittle on exploring Shadow Moon’s powers in season 3

American Gods season 3 episode 7 / STARZ Entertainment, LLC
American Gods season 3 episode 7 / STARZ Entertainment, LLC /

Ricky Whittle opens up about the important themes this season on American Gods and how they can serve as educational tools about America and finding common ground.

The big revelation of American Gods’ season two came when Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) discovered Wednesday/Odin (Ian McShane) was his father. Season three finds him dealing with that fact and wondering about his own supernatural powers, if he indeed has them. It’s a thought-process that Whittle compared to Clark Kent thinking about his Superman abilities.

Culturess participated in a Zoom interview with the actor (who is sporting more hair this season!) about getting to the iconic locale of Lakeside in the book and why the small town isn’t as friendly as you would think.

Culturess: So, first of all, what do you think of the town Lakeside now that the girl has disappeared and you have a very different reception at the end of episode two? If you want to talk about your feelings about the town, [go ahead].

Ricky Whittle: Yeah, Shadow’s kind of in my favorite part of the book right now: Lakeside.

You know, he’s in hiding from the police, the FBI, he’s grown his hair out, his beard out, he’s trying to assimilate, he’s trying to just blend in. He doesn’t want to stand out, he doesn’t want to draw any attention.

Hinzelman [Julia Sweeney] kind of, maybe pays too much attention to him. She’s this self-appointed mayor, who’s just this busybody who knows everyone’s business, which is dangerous for Shadow because Shadow’s got a lot to hide. Not just the god stuff, but technically, he’s on the run from, you know, a lot of police people and agents he’s killed that he’s on the rap for. So, Shadow’s in a very precarious time right now, and you always feel like the walls are closing in on Shadow.

And then to throw on top of that a missing girl, and you’re the only thing that’s changed. You’re the only difference that’s happened to the town. You come in, and this girl has disappeared. So, it’s where we’re able to kind of balance a cultural kind of, almost racial tone. Is he being singled out because of his skin tone? Is he being singled out because he’s new in town? It’s kind of the fun where we get to play on this show where it’s entertaining, but we’ve got a great platform to kind of educate and raise awareness about really serious kinds of topics in the world today.

Especially in America when we’re talking about America and especially small towns, which is where, you know, for me, I feel education needs to be broader because people tend to stay in their little towns. The thing I try to explain to everyone in the world is travel: travel as much as you can, and see as much as you can. And then you realize, everyone’s the same: We’ve all got problems, we’re all just trying to get through our days. You know, we’re all different genders, sexual orientation, races, nationalities, ages, everything. We just want to get to bed at the end of the day. So Shadow just wants to get to the bed at the end of the day.

And unfortunately, he’s got this wall kind-of closing in where this girl’s gone missing. And it’s almost like his obligation to try and find her, if not to just stop himself [going] to prison. So, it’s tense times for Shadow, very much so on Lakeside.

Culturess: Can you tell me, will we get a hint of maybe Shadow’s powers? Like he’s half-God, half human? Is he a god? What’s his relationship with Wednesday?

Whittle: Yeah, this is something that I wanted to kind of touch upon this season… And it’s almost the Clark Kent storyline: you just found out you can fly. Wednesday is a God, he’s my father. What can I do, you know? We kind of follow this journey through Shadow as a human. Even though he’s a demigod, he’s not a part of this world:  he’s learning with us. And I think we all agree that if we found out that our father was a god, we’d be trying to move that saltshaker on the table [laughs].

So, you’re gonna see Shadow kind of start to embrace that side. And he’s hiding from his destiny, and he’s trying to push it away. But there’s only so long you can do that for [until] your curiosity is going to get the better of you. And also, when you find out who you are and what you are, you have to decide what kind of person—and god—you want to be. Do you want to kind of turn a blind eye to things or do you want to help people? And I think we all know that Shadow is a very moral character and who wants to help, so it’s gonna be a lot of fun this season. [There’s] a lot more kind of smiles from Shadow: you realize he’s got teeth, he smiles this season!

There are times in Lakeside he has a lot of fun too. He smiles a lot with the people of Lakeside, but yeah, it’s a lot of fun to kind of experiment with those powers.

American Gods first two episodes premiered on STARZ, with the rest of the season 3 episodes airing on Sundays, 8 p.m., ET.

Next. Bruce Langley and Yetide Badaki talk American Gods season 3. dark

What did you think of the premiere of S3 American Gods? Did you love it like we did? Do you think things will work out at Lakeside for Shadow Moon? Will he reconcile with his all-father, Wednesday/Odin? Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below!