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Orlando Jones fulfills a lifelong dream on ‘American Gods’

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In season two of 'American Gods' (Sundays at 8:00 pm on STARZ), Orlando Jones stars as spellbinding tale-spinner Mr. Nancy in the fantasy drama, based on the 2001 bestseller written by Neil Gaiman. "It's been a lifelong dream to play this character," Jones tells The Maine Edge. "I met Mr. Nancy as a child. My grandparents used to read to me. I knew "Anansi" - the spider god (a character in West African and Caribbean folklore). When I heard they were thinking about doing this series, I actually tweeted Gaiman to let him know that I would love to play the part." In season two of 'American Gods' (Sundays at 8:00 pm on STARZ), Orlando Jones stars as spellbinding tale-spinner Mr. Nancy in the fantasy drama, based on the 2001 bestseller written by Neil Gaiman. "It's been a lifelong dream to play this character," Jones tells The Maine Edge. "I met Mr. Nancy as a child. My grandparents used to read to me. I knew "Anansi" - the spider god (a character in West African and Caribbean folklore). When I heard they were thinking about doing this series, I actually tweeted Gaiman to let him know that I would love to play the part." (Image courtesy of STARZ)

The season two finale of the hit fantasy drama “American Gods” is set for this Sunday at 8 p.m. on Starz. Orlando Jones stars as Mr. Nancy, a spellbinding trickster spider-man whom Jones says he was born to play.

Based on the bestselling 2001 novel by Neil Gaiman, “American Gods” takes place in a world ruled by two types of gods. The old gods are still cranky after all these years and man do they hate change. The new gods rule with technology, media and money, and use it in their mission to dominate the globe while attempting to send the old gods packing.

There’s a lot going on in this show, so I asked Jones if he could add to my synopsis.

“So far so good, but I would add that it’s more about the idea that Americans came here worshiping other gods,” Jones said. “They built these roadside attractions that were us worshiping new things and now we’ve moved on to worship new things represented by the new gods.”

In the war between the old and new gods, the old gods are constantly trying to gain worshippers while the new gods grow them in ways the old-timers could never have conceived. “The only way we can survive is to take each other’s worshippers,” Jones said, adding a crucial detail.

Introduced this season is the character New Goddess New Media, played by Kahyun Kim, replacing season one’s New Goddess Media, portrayed by Gillian Anderson.

“Part of what we realized was broken in the translation from book to television is that media isn’t the thing anymore,” Jones explained. “New media is now the thing. If you’re looking at media and not discussing the revolution that is K-pop and how music is now completely unchained, you’re missing it. Kahyun Kim is a remarkable actress of Korean descent and her character is about what new media is and how digital and technology have fundamentally changed the landscape.”

Jones says he first met the character of Mr. Nancy when his grandparents read to him as a child.

“I knew Anansi the spider god,” said Jones. “For me, it’s been a lifelong dream to play this character. When I heard they were thinking of doing ‘American Gods,’ I actually tweeted Neil Gaiman to let him know that I would love to play Mr. Nancy.”

Jones is a captivating presence in every scene featuring Mr. Nancy – and the character has a higher profile this season. When he speaks, the viewer hangs on his every carefully selected word.

“The core approach to Mr. Nancy, is that my character is a storyteller,” Jones said. “The way he dresses, the way he moves and the way he talks is all designed to keep you captivated. He wants you to keep your eyes on him at all times because any storyteller needs your attention.”

Speaking of wardrobes, Mr. Nancy, is one dapperly-dressed, tale-weaving, web-spinning spider-man trickster. Jones says the attire is one of best aspects of portraying his character.

“It’s incredible for me to play this character in these 25- to 30-thousand-dollar suits. Everything he wears is intricately designed, from the suit to his hat. If you look at the back of his jacket, or if he takes his vest off, you’ll always see a spider pattern. They’re made-to-order, gorgeous pieces of art.”

Jones leans into Mr. Nancy’s spider-ness in other ways as well. Physically, for instance – he moves across the screen with an arachnid’s deliberate, almost musical way.

“Keeping him moving, in the sense that he’s an entity with more than four appendages, is part of approaching the physicality of the character to make the viewer feel like you’re not sure what he’s going to do next,” he said. “Is he going to make you laugh or will he kill something? You’re not sure but you can’t stop watching to find out.”

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