Delroy Lindo Cast As Neil Gaiman's Trickster God in Anansi Boys for Amazon Prime


Courtesy: Amazon Prime

On Wednesday, July 21st, Neil Gaiman announced via his blog that the long-rumored TV series adaptation of his novel Anansi Boys is officially happening, at Amazon Prime. This afternoon, Gaiman announced via Variety who will be playing the titular trickster god Anansi, aka Mr. Nancy, and the news couldn't be better. The charismatic and devious deity, a fan-favorite character in Gaiman's work who also featured prominently in American Gods, will be played by none other than Delroy Lindo. Lindo has long been a highly respected, iconic character actor in indie film, Hollywood, and television, but it feels safe to say that he is at a new career high following his universally-acclaimed performance in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods. Casting him in this series feels HUGE, and he instantly feels like the absolute perfect choice to play this larger-than-reality character.

The show will follow a young man named Charlie Nancy whose estranged father, Mr. Nancy (Lindo) has just died - but the death brings a wave of revelations as he learns that his dad was not the man he thought he was, but the West African god of mischief and stories, Anansi, and he also has a previously-unknown brother named Spider, of the same godly lineage. Despite the story starting with his death, Lindo's Mr. Nancy will obviously feature prominently in his two sons' supernatural journey.

Of Lindo's casting, Gaiman said, “Delroy Lindo is a giant of the stage and the screen, and we are so lucky to have him. I cannot wait to see his gravitas and charm being deployed for the benefit of Anansi Boys, as he plays an unreliable father with hidden depths.”

Anansi/Mr. Nancy was previously played on the TV series of American Gods by Orlando Jones, who was phenomenal in the role; I think it's safe to say that his instantly-iconic "angry gets sh*t done" monologue in the show's second episode was one of the series' finest moments. But when American Gods notoriously fell apart after the first season, amid wave after wave of production troubles that followed original showrunner Bryan Fuller's quitting the series, Jones found himself unceremoniously fired (or as Starz put it, not renewed) over "creative differences" with the new showrunner, which led to Jones pretty scathingly criticizing the show's mostly-white writers room for how it mishandled its characters of color. This in turn led to Neil Gaiman pretty much washing his hands of the obviously-doomed American Gods, and saying that in the future he will have more creative control over screen adaptations of his books, to make sure that such a situation doesn't occur again. It looks like he is making good on that promise, and this time around, Mr. Nancy will get the better treatment that he deserved. In comments on his Facebook post when he made the official Anansi Boys announcement, Gaiman clarified that Starz still holds the rights to American Gods, so there was no way, legally, that Orlando Jones could reprise the role for this series, and that Anansi Boys will be set in a different universe from American Gods, with a different, parallel version of Mr. Nancy (which also makes perfect sense within the power-of-myth supernatural mythos of both novels). Any sadness that Jones could not reprise the role, however, has now been more than made up for by the casting of Lindo - I don't think we could possibly ask for a better choice.

Anansi Boys is being developed by Gaiman and Sir Lenny Henry, with whom Gaiman originally collaborated on the concept and novel, as co-writers, and Gaiman will act as co-showrunner alongside Douglas Mackinnon, with whom he worked on Good Omens.

- Christopher S. Jordan

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