‘American Gods’ Season 2: Crispin Glover, Yetide Badaki and Bruce Langley Interview

American Gods Season 2
Mr World (Crispin Glover) and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) in ‘American Gods’ season 2 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Starz’s American Gods returns for what promises to be another crazy, intense season on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Season two picks up immediately after the events of the season one finale and will find the Old Gods and New Gods heading toward war. Mr. World (Crispin Glover) is plotting revenge while Wednesday (Ian McShane) continues his quest to gather Old Gods for a full-on battle.

Crispin Glover, Yetide Badaki (‘Bilquis’), and Bruce Langley (‘Technical Boy’) were among the American God cast members who participated in a panel at the New York Comic Con. Glover, Badaki, and Langley also teamed up for roundtable interviews to delve into Neil Gaiman’s world and what’s in store for their characters in season two.

What a crazy first season. Is season two going to top it?

Yetide Badaki: “It’s pretty nutty.”

Bruce Langley: “It depends on which context you mean top it and blow it out of the water. It’s not going to pull any punches. It’s going to go strange very quickly, which I think was one of the beautiful things about season one. It’s going to go nuts and it’s going to go nuts fast.”

Yetide Badaki: “Right. One of the things I love about our show is it’s the epitome of WTF TV. We will never disappoint on that.”

How does your character evolve in season two?

Yetide Badaki: “For me what’s been interesting is in the first season we saw Bilquis trying to survive. What I’m loving about the second season is we’re starting to see more of her beginning to thrive. She went from the first season where they’re saying, ‘Get yourself a queen,’ and people are looking for a queen. And for this season I feel that Bilquis remembers that she is a queen.”

Bruce Langley: “I would say it’s a slightly deeper look into the inner workings of the power dynamic of the new gods. I’d say actually interestingly it pushes a little bit into the loneliness that one can find in being worshipped. Because to be worshipped you are essentially ostensibly isolated from everyone because they’re putting you on this pedestal where you can not operate on the same pantheon as they do. And then in so far as the immediate people in your circle, if they think you’re a dick as well – as in Tech Boy’s case – then I can’t think of a more isolating experience.

So, it’s a nice opportunity to push a little bit into the psychology and the very real-world implications of living with that amount of loneliness while being constantly praised. That’s something I’m interested in exploring.”

Crispin Glover: “Well, for me there’s something that I have…in the book, my character is not embodied really. It becomes more embodied as the time goes on, and there’s a mystery to it. It’s actually something that is a challenge that I recognize, and I think they recognize as they’re continuing to write the show, is that if there’s too much known about my character it starts to demystify it. And part of the tension is the mystery. In fact, there was some stuff that was changed in one episode which I ultimately agreed with it because I felt they were starting to try to explore too much for the character in a way that could demystify it.

So, in a certain way, it’s important that my character doesn’t develop too much. It sounds funny but there is something to that. You want it to be compelling, of course, but there’s a part of me that feels I should barely appear in it and yet I’m in this season quite a bit more. Of course, I’m glad to be working and all that, but there’s a part of me that feels like I should barely be seen. It is important to keep the mystery.”

What was your first exposure to American Gods?

Yetide Badaki: “It’s no secret now what a big Neil Gaiman fan I am. I had read the book when it came out in 2001. I remember reading Bilquis and I was someplace public. I’m reading and I just kind of look up mind blown like, ‘My life has changed. Does no one notice?’ And then gosh 15 years later to get that call to come and play that role. My heart’s beating fast right now thinking about it. So, yeah, my initial introduction had been through the book, through Neil’s words.”

Bruce Langley: “My first exposure was the audition and getting the script for the first episode of the first season. That was my introduction to the character and to American Gods. Before that I had had some exposure to Coraline and Stardust, and then after getting the role I read American Gods and then used it as a springboard to go further into Neil’s world.

I’m in the world now, very much there. The water’s lovely – come join.”

Crispin Glover: “I worked with Neil Gaiman on Beowulf which he co-wrote with Roger Avary. I knew him as being a great guy. I could tell he was an excellent writer from the script, but I also knew that he was a well revered novelist, but I hadn’t read anything. And then I met with Bryan (Fuller) and Michael (Green) and they started describing the concepts behind it. I was quite impressed. I read the first scene which I thought was so well written.

I make my own films and there’s an actress in a film that I’m editing right now who was a big fan of Neil Gaiman in general but also specifically American Gods. When I told her about it, she said, ‘This is going to be great. You’ve got to do it. You have to do this it.’ I had the script and she read it and said I had to do it. I was already wanting to do it. Now I have read the book and it is a beautiful book. I love it. I trusted that it would be, and it is.”

American Gods Season 2
My Nancy (Orlando Jones), Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), and Mr Ibis (Demore Barnes) in ‘American Gods’ (Photo Credit: Starz)

Do you try to avoid bringing any humanity to your characters?

Bruce Langley: “Well, I think the important thing to acknowledge is that while they are deities and they are avatars for human belief calcified into certain different forms and all of those things, at the same time there is a part of them that has to be intrinsically human. And the part of them that interacts in this world has to be human, and part of their hearts and part of their souls is indeed very human, very vulnerable, and personal in themselves. So, whether or not they have all the power in the world or not, they have to interact as a human being.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that we have the capacity for everything inside ourselves already, in terms of emotional range and possibilities. We can be gods; we can be monsters. We can be saints; we can be sinners. So, in essence I think it’s just getting comfortable with acknowledging that there may be parts of yourself that are incredibly deep and dark – getting comfortable with that. And also acknowledging that there’s a counterpoint to that. But at the end of the day it’s all us. So are the gods – they’re all us. They’re not separate from us. They are us.”

Yetide Badaki: “We literally create the gods, so they are a reflection of humanity. So, then we get to play with that, which as an artist… Well, I don’t want to speak for everyone, but for me there’s not much better than that.”

Do you think the series has done well by the book?

Yetide Badaki: “I mean, one of the things that we are so lucky to have is the actual creator. Speaking of creation, we have the actual creator of this world and he’s reading these scripts. He’s sometimes working on them. He’s seeing the dailies. There’s no better reflection of how much respect we all have for this art piece than to hear him come in and say, ‘I’m proud.’”

Do you ask Neil questions about your characters?

Yetide Badaki: “You know, maybe it’s just because I’m such a big geek but I still work at having an actual conversation with Neil. (Laughing) But, I think that’s part of the fun of the creative process. I think he’s asking us to come in and collaborate. From our artistic viewpoint, bring our experiences, bring our viewpoints into that setup that he’s giving us. I tend to not ask him if I can help it, and I trust though that he will say, ‘Well, that’s not working,’ if it doesn’t. And luckily, we seem to come to quite a bit of agreement on Bilquis. Which, again, is a testament to his incredible storytelling.”

Can you tease anything about the new season we might not know?

Bruce Langley: “We don’t get to Lakeside, but we do get to House on the Rock. We get to Cairo and various other locations.”

Crispin Glover: “I don’t have any idea where we are in the book.”

Yetide Badaki: (Laughing) “We’re not very far. We’re a couple of pages in. There’s at least six more seasons in there.”

Bruce Langley: “The beauty of the show is we get to go in so much deeper and further than they were able to in the book, because in the book you’re limited by so many different things. A perfect example is pretty much all of our characters were in the book every now and then. But now we actually get to explore their backstories, their lives, how they live, how they function. We actually get to explore them. I mean, Sweeney’s got two and a half scenes in the book and now he’s one of the favorite characters because we actually got to go into his story.

We get to explore more with the show, and we’ll be doing more of that in season two.”