In an unexpected announcement, Orlando Jones took to Twitter to explain to the fans he’d been fired from the hit Starz show American Gods. According to Jones, they fired him for his “over-the-top” portrayal of his character, Mr. Nancy, and Orlando’s understandably disgusted.
On his multiple Twitter posts, Jones made his stance very clear: he needed to honor the fans by keeping things real, and by being one hundred percent transparent with the circumstances surrounding his firing.
“I’m not gonna name names, but the new season three showrunner is Connecticut born and Yale educated,” Jones stated on his Twitter video. “And he thinks that Mr. Nancy’s angry, get-sh*t-done is the wrong message for black America.”
This showrunner is none other than Charles Eglee—born in Boston, Massachusetts and known for his work on shows Dark Angel, Murder One, and The Walking Dead.
Back in March of 2019, Variety announced American Gods had been renewed for a third season. At which time, the article officially announced Eglee would take over running the show. Eglee replaced former showrunner, Bryan Fuller, who led production for both season one and two.
The news of being fired from the role of Mr. Nancy blindsided Jones, who admitted he’d been part of the creative process for the upcoming season three for American Gods. Allegedly, they had him in the decision-making room where writers and producers had gotten his take on how to end season two and what to do with season three.
“That’s right,” Jones continued in his Twitter video. “This white man [Eglee] sits in that decision-making chair, and I’m sure he has many black bff’s who are his advisors. And made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy, he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?”
Vesey was a black man who fought for the rights of slaves during the Antebellum South (that is, before the Civil War when some states in America still allowed slaves). Vesey led a movement known as “the rising” where he intended to promote a slave rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822, a state in the Antebellum South.
Given the character of Mr. Nancy—better known as Anansi, a trickster spider god from Ghanaian folklore—it’s hard to imagine Jones playing the character any other way than what we’ve seen in the first two seasons.
In response to Jones’ posts, an American Gods spokesperson issued a statement reflecting a different perspective. According to production, Jones was let go simply because of the story itself.
“The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the mythology of the source material,” the statement reads. “Mr. Jones’ option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three.”
The statement finished by stressing the complexity of Shadow Moon’s world. To support this side of the argument, it’s worth noting that Mousa Kraish—who plays the Jinn—tweeted he will also not be returning to American Gods after production informed him they would not require his character for the unforeseeable future.
Still, Jones isn’t the only actor to address issues with Freemantle, the production company behind American Gods, leading one to believe the validity in what Jones had opened up about with the fans. Gabrielle Union, who worked on Freemantle’s America’s Got Talent, alluded to a controversial firing (as reported by Variety).
Jones finished his Twitter video by returning the conversation to a more positive aspect of working for American Gods. He credited Neil Gaiman for writing such an extraordinary set of characters and riveting world. Jones also thanked Fuller for providing him the opportunity of not only portraying Mr. Nancy but bringing him in for other roles behind the scenes, too.
“To the wonderful Neil Gaiman, thank you for allowing me to play this role,” Jones said. “For writing this book. For opening the door for me to become a writer/producer on season two of American Gods. Thank you, sir. To the magnificent Bryan Fuller, and the incredible, uh, Michael Green. Thank you for creating this series, and for allowing me also to become, uh, Mr. Nancy. I hope the fans enjoyed it because really this is about you. I hoped you loved it as much as I loved doing it.”
Fan J.L. Forrest responded to his video by saying, “You have been the best thing about AMERICAN GODS, a show which has often been shaky in its delivery, unfaithful to the source material, and more than self-indulgent. You are fantastic, and there’s nothing in that show I looked forward to more than your time onscreen.”
Hot Mess & Blessed chimed in with, “White woman here. Can confirm. Your character [made] me uncomfortable, contemplative, and wanting to be better educated. That is the mark of a great actor.”
There’s no news yet on when American Gods season three will return, but filming is slated to wrap on March 6th, 2020.
Sadly, though we won’t catch Jones on the third season, his character is a testament to the power a fictional person can have. Surely, Mr. Nancy made an impression on viewers across the world, and this isn’t just the mark of a good actor—this is the mark of how cinema can stir a reaction in us all, for the better or for the worse.
About The Author:
Rachel Goodman is a Los Angeles based actress, host, and writer originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. In college, Rachel wrote for the Penn State Abington Literary Review and was an editorialist for The Lion’s Roar and The Montgomery County Ticket.
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