What hath Gods wrought?
American Gods‘ Orlando Jones lashed out at former co-star Ricky Whittle on social media Saturday, publishing a private communication from Whittle— presumably without his consent — that Jones says he received in December.
In a lengthy Twitter direct message that TVLine has confirmed is from Whittle, he expresses concern for Jones, who went public that month with his dismissal from the Starz series. “Would love to talk about what u actually want and what ur doing to the fam,” Whittle writes, likely in response to Jones’ claims that he was not brought back for the upcoming third season because new showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee thought Jones’ character, Mr. Nancy, sends “the wrong message” to “black America.”
Whittle’s message continues: “Using the racism card to burn ur friends house down is clever but we both know it’s incompetence not racism & we are caught in the crossfire… We totally had ur back on the incompetence, but pulling the race card to [incite] public trolls is a bulls–t tactic & u know it.”
Jones’ post annotates the private exchange, stating Whittle “has no idea what transpired between me, [American Gods production company] Freemantle and Starz. Nvr asked, nvr cared.” He adds: “You’re the star of the show so you know WAY more than me about all of this.”
TVLine has reached out to reps for Whittle, Jones, Starz and Freemantle for comment.
Whittle seemingly addressed the controversy on Sunday when he posted the following message on Twitter:
I love my family, my friends, my fans, cast and crew. Positivity breeds positivity and will only ever seek to spread light and love pic.twitter.com/ygFCdYmngW
— Ricky Whittle (@MrRickyWhittle) March 1, 2020
The behind-the-scenes turmoil at the fantasy series reportedly rivals the drama of the war between the Old Gods and the New. Original showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green departed the series in November 2017 over “creative differences;” cast members Kristin Chenoweth and Gillian Anderson left soon after.
Hannibal‘s Jesse Alexander was then brought on to helm the show in concert with executive producer Neil Gaiman, whose 2001 novel is American Gods‘ source material. But reports in September 2018 said that Alexander had been sidelined during the filming of Season 2 in the wake of ongoing production issues, delays and script doctoring being performed by frustrated cast members.
In March 2019, Starz announced that former Shield EP Eglee would preside over Season 3.
After posting in December 2019 that he wouldn’t return as a series regular in Season 3, Jones — whose writing credits include A Different World and MADtv — revealed that he was one of the actors called upon to craft scenes. “I suddenly found myself writing, not just Mr. Nancy, but Ibis and Salim and the Jinn and Sam Black Crow and Shadow Moon and all of the characters of color who weren’t written,” he told TVLine.
At the time, the series issued a statement that American Gods‘ storylines “have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material,” and that Jones’ option was not picked up because his character, the Old God Mr. Nancy, “is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on in Season 3.” (Read the statement in full here.) In addition, a rep for Eglee called Jones’ characterization of the showrunner “inaccurate on so many levels, from the macro to the micro — the least of which is that Mr. Eglee is not even ‘from Connecticut’ (as Mr. Jones states).”