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Just one day after American Gods star Orlando Jones released a video claiming that he'd been fired from the Starz series ahead of its third season, another cast member announced that he also won't be back for the next round of episodes.
In a Twitter thread posted Sunday, Mousa Kraish — who played the Jinn on the series adapted from Neil Gaiman's bestselling novel — revealed that he "wasn't asked" to come back for the next season, though he did not elaborate on exactly why. Kraish's announcement came a little more than a day after Jones, who played African trickster god Anansi (aka Mr. Nancy) on the series, released a video claiming that he'd been fired from the series in September of 2019 because his character's anger was sending "the wrong message for black America."
While Kraish has stopped short of placing blame for his departure from the show, instead simply thanking fans for their support on Twitter, Jones has continued to open up about the circumstances surrounding his exit in subsequent interviews, including one with SYFY WIRE's own Karama Horne over at The Blerd Gurl. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Jones confirmed Kraish's exit and also noted that Omid Abtahi’s Salim will apparently be absent from Season 3. He also said he was "blindsided" by the news that he wouldn't be returning, and that the call came even after he'd helped shape the upcoming season.
“I laughed because I was the person in the room, along with very few other people, who laid out the direction for Season 3 at the end of Season 2,” Jones said. “So I thought that was funny and ridiculous on its face. I said, ‘Thanks,’ and that was it.”
Jones also elaborated on his claims that he was fired because new showrunner Charles "Chic" Eglee, a white man, felt that Mr. Nancy was sending the "wrong message for black America." While Jones noted that he had not spoken to Eglee personally, he claimed he'd heard from various people that Eglee had repeated the same beliefs about his character both to colleagues on the show and to mutual friends that "he didn't know I knew."
"His exact words are, as I recall because no one repeats the same thing that way that many times, ‘Angry gets sh— done is the wrong message for black America.’ And then it was, ‘he writes from a black male perspective,'” Jones said. “I’ve never experienced sexism, I’m a guy. You’ve never experienced racism, you’re a white guy. How could you possibly write from my perspective or any black person’s perspective? I just don’t get what it means. It just seems crazy to me that somebody would say that.”
For their part, Starz and American Gods production company Fremantle Media released a statement over the weekend, disputing Jones' claim that he was fired and instead claiming that he was simply not asked to return for another season because of shifting storylines.
“The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material,” the full 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. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, be introduced into Shadow Moon’s world that will further contribute to the show’s legacy as one of the most diverse series on television.”
American Gods has been marked by frequent behind-the-scenes upheaval in its television life so far, including more than one showrunner replacement. Bryan Fuller, who co-developed the series for TV and served as co-showrunner in the first season, responded to both Jones' and Kraish's statements on Twitter by calling them "HEARTBREAKING."
Ricky Whittle, who plays the show's star Shadow Moon, also released a statement in support of both Jones as a performer and friend and Eglee as the showrunner crafting the upcoming third season.
The third season of American Gods does not yet have a release date.