Beverly Hills, Calif. – Starz and FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) announced today that Orlando Jones (“Madiba,” “Sleepy Hollow”) will play Mr. Nancy in the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel, American Gods.
Jones will play Mr. Nancy, the old African trickster god more commonly known as Anansi, and one of Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) oldest confidantes. Like Wednesday, Nancy is ready to bring this new America (and its new gods) to its knees, desperate to light a fire and watch the whole world burn.
In a career spanning 30 years, Orlando Jones’ versatility is well documented. He began his career by launching an advertising agency in his teens and then working behind the scenes as a writer on “A Different World” and “Martin”. He wrote and produced “Roc Live”, the first prime time scripted American series since the late 1950s to broadcast each episode of an entire season live. Jones later combined his writing and acting talents when he was handpicked by Quincy Jones to join sketch comedy franchise, “MadTV”. Following his tenure on the show he partnered with 7Up to write, produce and star in a series of iconic television commercials that are still recognized among the Top 100 most successful advertising campaigns of all time.
Heralded as a creative innovator across multiple media platforms, Jones was recognized as WhoSay’s social media celebrity of 2014 and MTV’s “King of Fandom” in 2015. His passionate advocacy for the changing relationship between fans and creators has afforded him the opportunity to speak at various fan studies conferences and contribute to numerous academic publications.
In 2015, Jones co-founded the immersive content studio Legion of Creatives with former Disney executive Jay Williams and writer/producer Noam Dromi. The company is producing a wide range of multi-platform programs including the original series “High School 51”, created by Star Trek, Transformers, and Amazing Spiderman 2 writer/producer Roberto Orci.
In 2016, Jones was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to host The Oscars Backstage for the 88th Academy Awards, an interactive second screen experience tied to the official broadcast of the event.
Later this year he’ll be seen in the independent feature film The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea as well as the film Tainted Love, based on the graphic novel-style action comedy, which he also wrote and produced. It’s a first of its kind digital feature that is the launching pad for a unique narrative journey across multiple platforms.
Jones is represented by Paradigm, RPMedia, and Untitled Entertainment.
Demore Barnes (“12 Monkeys”) has also been added to the cast as Mr. Ibis, the keeper of stories, past and present, and he recounts them with great relish. His old fashioned sensibilities do not preclude a wry wit.
Barnes landed his first professional role right out of high school in his hometown of Toronto on “Squawk Box”, a sketch comedy show on YTV (Canada’s version of Nickelodeon) and has since been a rising star. He went on to star in the CBC kids show “Street Cents.” He spent the next three seasons on the show doing sketch comedy.
Barnes then crossed-over into the dramatic realm of performance within the television movies, “White Lies”, with Sarah Polley and Lynn Redgrave, “Second String” with Jon Voight, and “Black Out” with Jane Seymour. Shortly after, Barnes was cast as Benjamin Hardaway on the CTV legal drama, “The Associates”, and was thrust into the media maelstrom. For that role, Barnes was nominated two consecutive years for the Gemini Award as Best Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series. In addition, Barnes was the winner of the BFV and Black Film Award for Best Performance in a Dramatic Series for his work on The Associates.
Barnes then began working between both Los Angeles and Vancouver and was soon chosen by Academy Award nominee and preeminent playwright, David Mamet to portray super-secret military commando, Hector Williams in his CBS and 20th Century Fox series, “The Unit.” The series was also nominated two consecutive years for an NAACP Award for Outstanding Drama Series 2007 & 2008. Barnes went on to land a recurring role in the CW Network hit, “Supernatural” as the Archangel Raphael and also guest starred on Fox’s “Fringe” as Agent Hubert and Universal’s “Caprica” as Nigel Hightower. Barnes has also guest starred in the CBC hit series, “Being Erica” as University of Toronto professor and author, Michel Streith opposite Erin Karpluck.
Other credits include an appearance in the Darren Lynn Bouseman directed horror film, The Barrens with Stephen Moyer and Mia Kirshner filmed in Toronto as well as guest starring roles in the CTV and ION series, “Flashpoint”, HBO and Cinemax’s “Transporter” and more recently the NBC series “Hannibal”.
Barnes was chosen by Executive Producer and Academy Award winner Roger Avary to portray the recurring role of National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, Martin Reynolds in the Canal+ action series, “XIII”.
In the last two years Barnes has been juggling series regular and recurring roles on “Hemlock Grove” for Netflix, “Open Heart” for YTV and Nickelodeon as well as “12 Monkeys” for Syfy network. He had a 2 episode arc on “Defiance” for Syfy and a guest starring role on “The Flash” for the CW.
Barnes is represented by Don Buchwald & Associates, The Characters Talent agency, and Luber Roklin Entertainment.
Jones and Barnes join previously announced stars Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon), Ian McShane (Mr. Wednesday), Emily Browning (Laura Moon), Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney), Yetide Badaki (Bilquis), Bruce Langley (Technical Boy), Crispin Glover (Mr. World), Jonathan Tucker (Low Key Lyesmith), Gillian Anderson (Media), Peter Stormare (Czernobog), and Cloris Leachman (Zorya Vechernyaya).
American Gods has been translated into over 30 languages and earned numerous accolades including Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Novel. The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
“American Gods” is produced by FremantleMedia North America. Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Heroes”) and Michael Green (“The River,” “Kings,” “Heroes”) are writers and showrunners. David Slade (“Hannibal,” “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) is directing the pilot and additional episodes. FMNA’s Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk are executive producing the series along with Fuller, Green, Slade and Neil Gaiman. Senior Vice Presidents of Original Programming Marta Fernandez and Ken Segna are the Starz executives in charge of “American Gods.” Starz retains all network pay TV and SVOD rights to the project. FremantleMedia is distributing the series worldwide.
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