Actor Ricky Whittle had to audition 16 times before he landed his role in new TV series American Gods.
Despite the fact the 35-year-old actor had appeared on shows such as Mistresses and The 100, he was still a relative unknown in the U.S. when the new gig came up. So series boss Bryan Fuller was determined to make sure Ricky could live up to expectations and perfectly portray Shadow Moon in the small screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name.
“We put him through his paces,” Bryan told Digital Spy. “So he absolutely earned this role, and worked very hard for it.”
Ricky added: “I felt like I was on X Factor – every week (I) was singing a different tune! Let’s do a happy scene, a sad scene, a depressed scene… literally every week I was running the gamut.”
However, Ricky knew the process was necessary to ensure bosses were satisfied he had what it takes to get across ex-convict Shadow’s complicated character to the audience.
“But it was because they wanted to know that whoever’s playing Shadow can deal with the emotional rollercoaster that he’s about to go on,” he continued.
American Gods follows Shadow as he’s released from prison, and meets Mr Wednesday, played by Ian McShane, who shows him a dark, strange side of the world he never previously knew.
When it came to choosing stars for the series, Bryan added that Shadow was “absolutely the most challenging” character to cast.
“He is the point-of-view character, but he’s also a character in the book that is relatively passive. We knew that we needed a protagonist with (a) little bit more bite, and an opinion on the journey he was taking,” he explained. “So that was a minor deviation from who the character was in the book, but certainly not a reinvention of the character.”