Ian McShane to Star in 'American Gods' for Starz

He'll take on the central role of Mr. Wednesday in the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel.
Ian McShane  Getty Images

Starz has found its Mr. Wednesday.

Deadwood, American Horror Story and upcoming Game of Thrones star Ian McShane has booked the key role in Starz's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel American Gods, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The drama centers on a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon (The 100's Ricky Whittle), is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a con man but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation for a battle with the new deities.  

McShane's Mr. Wednesday is described as powerful and charismatic — a Casanova of sorts — who is a con man and an incarnation of All-Father Odin, who's traveling America recruiting his fellow forgotten deities to wage an epic battle ‚Ä®against the new American gods.

For McShane, the role comes as he's poised to have a major part in HBO's upcoming sixth season of Game of Thrones. The casting brings him back to Starz, where he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his role in miniseries Pillars of the Earth. His credits also include Pirates of the Caribbean, Ray Donovan, The West Wing and Lovejoy. He is repped by ICM Partners, Gallant Management, Independent Talent Group and Sloane Offer.

Production on the series from FremantleMedia North America will begin in April. Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (The River) will pen the script and serve as showrunners. David Slade will direct the pilot and additional episodes. FMNA's Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk will executive produce alongside Fuller, Green, Slade and Gaiman. Starz senior vps original programming Marta Fernandez and Ken Segna will oversee for the network.

"When you write a beloved character (beloved with, or despite, or because of all his faults) like Mr. Wednesday, you get to watch the Internet trying to cast the role," Gaiman said Wednesday in a statement. "I've seen a hundred names suggested, but few make me grin like Ian McShane does. I've already been lucky enough to have him in one film (he was bright blue in it, animated, and probably Polish). Now I count myself even luckier: he's made the journey from Lovejoy to American Gods. Yesterday was Super Tuesday. Today is Wonderful Wednesday."

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