Two years is a long time to wait for a second series of a TV show.
But Ricky Whittle and Emily Browning promise when the series in question is American Gods, it’s worth the wait.
The fantasy drama, available on Amazon Prime Video, is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman.
It revolves around the idea that, over thousands of years, immigrants to America have brought their gods with them.
But as time’s gone on, people have turned to newer gods (like Media and Technical Boy).
In the first series, we saw Shadow Moon, an ex-con played by Whittle, get caught up in the middle of a war between the new gods and the old gods, thanks to his mysterious boss Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane).
Here, we chat to Whittle and Browning to find out what to expect from season two.
“We’ve had to be patient, the fans have had to be patient,” Oldham-born Whittle, 37, admits straight away, when discussing the new episodes.
“We had to wait until the writing was right and the storyline was right and it all made sense.”
“It’s a big cast to wrangle as well – it takes a while to get us all in the same place!” adds Aussie actress Browning, who plays Shadow’s wife, Laura.
The elephant in the room is the fact showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green ended up quitting and being replaced by Lost writer Jesse Alexander after season one.
But it turns out these changes are something the chatty, friendly pair are happy to acknowledge.
“We publicly had some big shifts in management,” notes 30-year-old Browning, star of films such as Sucker Punch, and TV series such as The Affair.
“But the thing that felt different [for series two], in a really great way, was the fact we had such a strong core with the cast, because we all love each other so much and we all collaborate really well.”
Whittle says season two is a lot faster, and “a lot easier to follow”, although some things haven’t changed.
“It’s going to look exactly the same, with its unique rich tone and feel – that’s down to our executive producer director Chris Byrne, who worked with Bryan and Michael on the first series.
“They were very much responsible for all those small inserts; no one ever just lights a cigarette in our show, it’s an extreme close up, an extreme eyeball shot of me.”
Was there a sense of relief that the show still feels the same, then?
“Yeah, for sure,” Whittle responds.
“At the end of the day, this is Neil Gaiman’s incredible book, and the source material is there. It’s not like something fresh that we are trying to figure out storylines, it’s not lost.
“So, we follow the book, but we deviate just a little bit just to keep it fresh.”
When American Gods was released in 2001, it was applauded for the themes it explores: modern humanity, the evolution of faith in America, the struggles that come with immigration (and of course, this was long before the era of Donald Trump...).
Whittle shares that, at the premiere of the first season: “Gaiman said he would have given up all the adulation, the money, the glory if it, the novel he wrote, just remained a fantasy.”
But, the star goes on to suggest, a lot of the issues explored in the show “unfortunately” feel more timely than ever.
“We’ve got a great platform to tell important stories and to shine a good light on various cultures and religions and faiths and beliefs, and I’m proud of the show and the diverse cast that we have which is true to Neil Gaiman’s work,” he adds.
“He foresaw a lot of this and it’s the true America; America is full of immigrants. And the show is about all these gods kind of bringing their different flavours to America and we show every culture in a really great light. It’s a great way to educate the crowd, educate the audience.”
Browning adds, “Another thing I think about season two that’s really cool is that Shadow starts to kind of get what’s going on, and have a little more agency.”
Whittle agrees: “All the characters really do evolve this season.
“Shadow very much is starting to get an agenda. He was cynic to believer in the first season – but now he believes, it doesn’t necessarily mean he understands. So he’s seeking answers, which is going to cause a lot of friction with Mr Wednesday.”