We Should All Thank Nicolas Cage for Turning Down a Part in American Gods

Image: Face/Off, Paramount
Image: Face/Off, Paramount

One of the best things about the upcoming Starz adaptation of American Gods is just how spot-on perfect the casting has been. There are some fairly large names in some of the big parts, but the main character isn’t one. And a lot of roles have gone to character actors who are recognizable, but don’t have famous names. But according to Nicolas Cage, they were this close to ruining it all.


Among those great casting choices has been Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday, who hires the ex-con Shadow as a bodyguard. It’s Shadow’s travels with Mr. Wednesday, while trying to figure out his identity and his big plan, that make up the bulk of the book’s story. Mr. Wednesday has to be a man who is canny and formidable, but with the sense that he used to be even stronger. He has to do a lot of internal, subtle work so that the eventual reveal of his character doesn’t either come out of nowhere or be so obvious that Shadow is an idiot for not figuring it out.

DOES ANY OF THAT SOUND LIKE NICOLAS CAGE TO YOU? Because, according to an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Cage turned down the role:

I’ve been invited many times to go on a show, one of which was on Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” to play Mr. Wednesday, which was a great part, beautifully written. And I said no.

Well, thank all the gods, past and present, American and otherwise, for that one! I just...can’t imagine any world where Nic Cage’s brand of yelling acting would have worked for this. It’s literally unbelievable that he’d be the embodiment of Mr. Wednesday. Especially now that Ian McShane has the role.

So, I would like to take this moment to thank Mr. Cage for still having trouble saying yes to television shows. He may not have intended to, but he may have saved the day.

Katharine is the Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the former managing editor of io9. She writes about technology policy and pop culture.



Counterpoint: I think he could have done it, I think he could have done the role justice in spades. There are moments, if not most moments, in that Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie he did a while back, where he’s just playing ‘tired’. Tired of it all, tired of searching for an apprentice just so he can be together with his lost love. With Ian McShane in the role it’s ‘too easy’ casting, please, the man is a master and we already know that; he plays these roles before most of us wake for breakfast.