‘American Gods’ Season 2: Orlando Jones, Omid Abtahi, and Mousa Kraish Interview

American Gods Season 2
Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy in ‘American Gods’ season 2 (Photo Credit: Starz)
Season one of Starz’s American Gods finished up in June 2017 and now in March 2019 we’ll finally be able to catch up with Wednesday, Shadow Moon, Laura Moon, Mad Sweeney, and the rest of the interesting ensemble. Season two will also deliver more episodes with three characters who captured the attention of viewers while only appearing in a few episodes. Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones), Salim (Omid Abtahi), and The Jinn (Mousa Kraish) will each have a much larger presence in the upcoming season.

Teamed up to discuss American Gods season two at the New York Comic Con, Orlando Jones, Omid Abtahi, and Mousa Kraish teased what fans can expect from the new season. Salim and The Jinn will continue their romantic relationship while Mr. Nancy will play a key role as the gods move toward war.

American Gods season two will premiere on March 10, 2019.

What are you excited about for season two?

Mousa Kraish: “I’m excited about Orlando Jones.”

Orlando Jones: “I’m excited about Salim because he’s the only human on the show other than Shadow Moon. The fact that he’s involved with…these are my favorite characters on the show last year – my ship is Sin, Salim and Jinn, I just think they’re the most interesting characters in many ways on the show because they encapsulate many interesting parts. He’s a Jinn who serves a god but isn’t a god himself. And someone who’s madly in love with him and wants to follow him to the ends of the earth. Those themes don’t exist in any other parts of the show.”

Mousa Kraish: “And this isn’t talk. He does consistently come up to us and say, ‘You two are my favorite characters,’ especially now that he’s writing on the show as one of the show writers. He’ll come up and say, ‘I really want to do this,’ or ‘I really want to try this.’ Orlando’s taking us to places that I’m very thankful for because he wants to evolve the relationship that it feels more natural. An audience watching would go, ‘I connect to those two characters because they are the realist thing on the show.’”

Orlando Jones: “That’s true. And what’s so magical to me about that is they’re the Muslim characters. You know, they’re the ones who have the greatest hope about America who are being attacked in a very particular way right now yet still exude such joy, such love, such hope toward the future. I think they’re important in that right. But I think for me if you were actually watching the scene in season one where they’re in the cab, the beauty of it is just the little moments between them when they’re together. You know what I mean? In the elevator…it’s the smallest things.

So, the fight is always, ‘Hey you guys, can we do something with Salim and Jinn? I just want to watch Salim and Jinn because so much of it is what they do as actors. We’re laying a blueprint but it’s really about their work as performers.”

Will we see more of them in season two?

Orlando Jones: “Way more than you saw in season one. I think they’re actually…I think you guys are in every episode except one.”

How would you explain the evolution of that relationship?

Mousa Kraish: “It’s a one-night stand that has been extended.”

Omid Abtahi: “Here’s the thing. Two people can meet and they can have one magical night, right? But to build something that’s meaningful and longer lasting takes compromise. It takes hard work. It takes getting to know each other. That’s kind of the journey of Salim and The Jinn this season.”

Mousa Kraish: “Well, I don’t simplify it as just a one-night stand. But what I’m saying is you meet somebody amazing and you think it’s going to be a one-night stand. It’s like somebody shows up…he shows up at my door and I thought it was over, yet he shows up.”

Orlando Jones: “So what’s going to happen next? They’re the characters that really make you feel something in a really particular way. I’m excited about that aspect of it.”

Mousa Kraish: “Hopefully we’re going to capture more and more of that because to me (Salim) is American Gods because he’s the one character who brings his belief – he’s human, none of us exist without people like that, so he’s what everybody is. He’s our worshiper and he’s mine.”

Orlando Jones: “And he believes in a non-god. He worships a non-god which is fascinating.”

American Gods Season 2
Omid Abtahi as Salim and Mousa Kraish as The Jinn in ‘American Gods’ season 2 (Photo Credit: Starz)

What is it that Salim loves so much about The Jinn?

Mousa Kraish: (Laughing) “I’m sorry but have you seen me?”

Other than the physical attraction, what is it?

Orlando Jones: “I just want to say in a sidebar moment that there were flames involved in an orgasm moment. I don’t know if you’ve ever had flames shoot at you like that. There were flames.”

Omid Abtahi: “I think with Salim the reason he seeks out The Jinn so much is beyond the physical. I think it’s emotional, spiritual and physical. I think he’s freed Salim to be himself. Salim has lived a life of repression. He could not be who he was back in Amman. He can not be that open and he’s taken his identity and said, ‘Be who you want to be.’”

Is it exciting for you to take these fantastical elements and touch on topical things that are happening in real life? To spread a message about repression or whatever elements you might be touching on?

Orlando Jones: “Sure. I think that’s always a tricky dance as a storyteller because the job isn’t to do propaganda and it’s not to poke the bear in that way. I think American Gods has only been two weeks. When season two starts we’re just a few hours past what happened in season one, so you know exactly where you are. Because such a short period of time has passed here, they’re two weeks into a relationship – actually more like a week into a relationship because they met along the way. So, there are things that just naturally come up with being in America in modern times and being Muslim and walking around, let alone being gay. So, what comes with that is what comes with that.

What’s strange is that he’s not a man, he’s a Jinn, and he now has access to a world that he’s starting to understand that he previously didn’t even know existed. But he’s still free in a way that he wasn’t previously free in America. While we say he’s being oppressed in America, that’s not his experience, that’s not his life. You don’t have to script a lot there, right? So much of that is based on how the characters themselves interact in those moments between the words. I think that’s the power of the show.

And, yes, Nancy is probably far more of that type of character where he has a very specific agenda because his use of the narrative is to make you worship and do what he wants you to do. So, he’s far more of that whereas Salim doesn’t have that agenda. The Jinn doesn’t have that agenda, but I certainly do. And Wednesday has an agenda too where he wants to get to this war and he doesn’t care who he has f**k over to get it. It doesn’t much matter to him how that works out, but he’s enjoying the journey the entire time. That’s the fun of it. The gods don’t care what happens to the humans at all, but we’re fallible and mixed up and trying to decide what’s most advantageous to us in this war.”

Does Nancy’s agenda change at all during season two or he always on the same path?

Orlando Jones: “I don’t think we know what his agenda is at this point. I think in season one, if we’re talking about Nancy, I think his agenda has always been born to slavery. Modern-day slavery is not the same as it was. Mass incarceration is a big political issue. Well, that’s modern-day slavery. Human trafficking is, frankly, mostly focused on women and that’s modern-day slavery. His advocacy is probably more around women’s issues, as it were. But he doesn’t see them as women’s issues. He sees them as slavery.

So, not unlike episode 108 where he’s saying, ‘Get yourself a queen,’ the first thing he does is go get Mama-ji. Wednesday went and got Easter. F**k Easter, she doesn’t have any real worship. Mama-ji, that’s Kali, that’s female rage. She should be pretty pissed off right about now. This is who we need. But that’s just exploring the world of the gods and that’s what you’re starting to see and where they’re positioning themselves in the war, what people need to get things done in the war and what the characters are responding to in the midst of it. That’s the next edition of American Gods.

Yeah, it’s fun. It’s crazy fun.”

If you’re busy writing, does that mean Nancy’s less in season two than in season one?

Orlando Jones: “Definitely not. Obviously season one was just two scenes.”

Really? He seemed to have a much larger presence than that.

Orlando Jones: “Yeah, two scenes. The opening scene on the slave ship in 102 and then the opening scene for the shall we say coming to America for Bilquis in 108. And literally they leave there to go and get a queen and the queen they go and get is Easter – Ostara. And she starts the plague.”

Two scenes? That shocks me.

Orlando Jones: “I look at it like Salim and The Jinn. They were in this tiny sliver of season one but had such a huge impact as characters. In season two, they’re in almost every episode. Nancy’s in two scenes. In season two he’s in five episodes, but still far more present than he ever was.

For Ibis, you only saw him as a storyteller in season one. Now you see him interacting in his environment in a way that you haven’t seen him before. Bilquis isn’t just engulfing people. Suddenly you’re starting to see her character evolve. So, really, for all those characters I think that people fell in love with, you’re going to see them in a way that you didn’t see them in season one because you only saw a little. But, we have so much more ground to cover to get there. That’s what I think is really exciting about season two.”