War looms for Shadow, Wednesday and the Old Gods in Season 3 of ‘American Gods’

'American Gods' – Shadow goes his own way in Season 3

Ricky Whittle stars in Season 3 of “American Gods,” premiering Sunday on Starz.

Michael Corleone once raged, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” a sentiment with which Shadow Moon would certainly identify in Season 3 of “American Gods.”

Premiering Sunday, Jan. 10, on Starz, the new round catches up with ex-convict Shadow (Ricky Whittle) in hiding in his “normal life” and laboring happily in a Milwaukee foundry under the name Mike Ainsel when Wednesday (Ian McShane) – who is actually Shadow’s father, the Norse god Odin – literally pops back into his life.

As far as Shadow is concerned, he’s done with Wednesday and his games, but Wednesday is determined to drag Shadow into his divine war effort to save humanity from the New Gods of Technology. A meeting with the god Wisakedjak (Graham Greene, “Dances With Wolves”) leaves Shadow with a prophecy about his destiny, one seemingly determined to take him to snowy Lakeside, Wis., what appears to be an idyllic burg whose still waters run deep – and bloody. It is here where Shadow discovers that rejecting one’s destiny isn’t an option.

Ricky Whittle stars in Season 3 of “American Gods,” premiering Sunday on Starz.

Still, Shadow is determined to follow his own path and it’s that inner strength that Whittle found to be a welcome change in the character.

“When you first meet Shadow (in Season 1), he’s a broken shell of a man,” the British actor explains. “You know, he’s almost a shadow of what he’s about to become, and each season I’ve been able to add different layers. And this season, you really kind of see a more relaxed Shadow.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong; he’s still the universal punch bag and everyone wants a piece of him spiritually, mentally, physically,” he continues. “But he seems a lot more comfortable with it because he seems to be kind of choosing when to kind of dip his toe into the world of gods and is able to kind of sneak back to Lakeside and kind of bury himself in what he feels is normality. But in true “American Gods” fashion, nothing is as it seems and Lakeside is not so cheery.”

One of the first Lakesiders Shadow meets is Ann-Marie Hinzelmann, the owner of the local general store, played by Julia Sweeney. The former “Saturday Night Live” regular’s formidable improvisational skills quickly came to the fore, which kept Whittle on his toes.

“I don’t think she should ever be given a script. I think she should just al-lib everything,” Whittle says. “The first scene that we shot was … the first time Shadow meets Hinzelmann and Julia just started going off book and she was just ad-libbing it, and some of my best acting was just trying not to laugh at this woman. She is a comedy genius. … She’s this busy know-it-all kind of self-appointed mayor of Lakeside, and I really think she’s going to be a fan favorite right from the beginning.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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