American Gods Neil Gaiman

The announcement the TV insiders und Neil Gaiman fans alike oase been dreading for years ultimately came under this woche from Starz. After three embattled seasons and four various showrunners, die splashy TV adaptation of Gaiman’s beloved and award-winning novel American Gods had actually been canceled. The only die latest, despite certainly the messiest, an a rocky history des Gaiman works that schutz faltered on ns screen—which has left his fan wondering if ns rock star author von fantasy fiction could be unadaptable.

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Gaiman’s decades-long career kicked right into high gear an the early ’90s, ~ he and a bevy des artists created die now-iconic graphics novel recognized as The Sandman. Drawing inspiration from die dark mind von Alan Moore and the nimble wit of Douglas Adams, Gaiman crafted a wholly original story springing nach oben around a dusty, unused dc Comics character called the Sandman and incorporating gods, monsters, und legends from every cultures und points in history. The series, a New york Times best-selling stop hit, cemented Gaiman’s reputation as a modern-day mythmaker.

His various novels, novellas, and short stories, featuring darkly fantastical and richly occurred worlds peppered with standard English humor, discovered widespread acclaim together his publications were shelved in both adult and children’s sections des bookstores. American Gods, Stardust, the Graveyard Book, Coraline, ns Ocean weist the ende of the Lane, und more room all taken into consideration jewels des the fantasy world. His early teamwork with the late terrycloth Pratchett, Good Omens, zu sein one of the finest blends of light comedy und pulpy genre you’ll ever read. Inevitably, hollywood came calling—and that’s where die trouble started.


Some von the earliest Gaiman adaptations—like 2007’s Stardust, certification Claire Danes, und 2009’s charmingly stop-motion man Coraline, indigenous Laika studios—were warmly received. Castle may have been usually hits, yet they’ve only grown in audience’s estimation end time. Perhaps many importantly, they’re well liked by Gaiman fans. Stardust, the story des a young, adventurous man and the grumpy herbst star that loves him, is such a loosened adaptation von Gaiman’s book that it boundaries on a reimagining. Ns intent indigenous screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn was clearly zu try to fashion a Princess Bride–esque classic for a neu generation. They fell somewhat short, but ns result is ausblüten quite fun. It’s worth noting that while Gaiman explains visiting v Goldman and Vaughn as they operated on die script and giving his input on adaptive changes, that did not, ultimately schutz a screenplay credit, dafür it ist unclear whether he had final say. 


Gaiman similarly did not oase a screenplay credit wie man it came zu Coraline. Based turn off one von Gaiman’s shortest and most overtly kid-friendly books, the story von a mädchen trapped in a creepy alternating reality confirmed a call card weil das Laika and earned an Oscar nomination. 

After that, though—and following the mainstream geek-TV success he enjoyed writing episodes of Doctor Who an 2011 und 2013—Gaiman began getting much more involved bei adapting his very own stories zum film and television. Ns author had actually actually tried viel earlier in his career kommen sie make it bei Hollywood; the chronicled the frustrating suffer he and Pratchett had trying to sell Good Omens an a piece of short fiction called “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories.” Speaking with me around season one von American Gods—which was messy from die start, shedding its zuerst showrunner, Bryan Fuller, after ~ its zuerst year—Gaiman recalled the story:


Thinking ich was clever, coming an with terry Pratchett, us both knew that us were really smart, and watching ourselves oase a typical hollywood experience with all des the clichés…. Ich remember recovering und licking my wounds, somewhere around 1996, talking kommen sie Lisa Henson v whom ich had do friends punkt some point, and saying, “How do people do this? How kann you make it through this experience?”


Henson recommend Gaiman kommen sie make friends and form relationships. Subsequently, Gaiman seemed to seek an innovative partners who would let er exert more control over the finished product—which was reportedly a reason why over there was deshalb much battle behind ns scenes at American Gods. 


It’s informing that die show’s ideal season, that is first, ist the one Gaiman seems to oase had the least zu do with. Gaiman self praised one des that season’s much better episodes, which focused on Emily Browning’s Laura, because the had so little kommen sie do through his book: “The method that they told die story was absolutely, 100% Bryan and Michael . in fact, ich think one des the factors why that my favourite episode ist because yes sir nothing that i wrote in there. It’s favor I gott to be in audience zum something that felt fully like mine world. Und I loved it.”

That perspective seems weist odds with behind-the-scenes reports describe Fuller und Green were most likely replaced because Gaiman was displeased v some des the departures from his book. According to The hollywood Reporter, production agency Fremantle was eager to keep Gaiman happy: “Efforts were made zu bring Gods more in line with what Gaiman wanted.” This connected Gaiman gift billed as “co-showrunner” zum season two—which was the show’s the very least successful season. Behind-the-scenes strife bubbled over into messy story lines and even messier changes bei the cast.

At ns same time Gaiman was co-showrunning American Gods, that was so trying to single-handedly operation Amazon’s long-awaited adaptation of his publication Good Omens.

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yet despite Gaiman’s hands-on involvement, Good Omens deshalb failed to capture ns magic of his beloved novel. Some of it worked—including the undeniable natural chemistry betwee co-leads David Tennant und Michael Sheen—but a story that’s delightfully lively, inventive, and funny ~ above the seite fell fully flat on the screen.

These creative stumbles seem associated to die inherent difficulty in adapting Gaiman. His insanity inventive worlds—which sell such stimulation weil das the imagination—work best an tandem through a kind reader’s own principles rushing bei to fill an the blank spaces. Gaiman is also preternaturally gifted v words, which way his long, chewy descriptions and clever turns des phrase—excised, von necessity, from die visual medium von film und television—are a key part to making ns magic von his books work. 

This, perhaps, is why a current run of full-cast bbc radio dramatizations of Gaiman works have been together a hit—and it have to be listed that die guiding creative force on those projects has actually been Dirk Maggs. die best Gaiman production ich ever saw was actually a 2019 play hinweisen the national Theatre in London adapted über Joel Horwood. The Ocean weist the ende of die Lane, Gaiman’s most angestellter book—about ns death of a father und the loss of childhood innocence—was transformed, through hefty adaptation, right into pure stage magic. Naught on screen has ever kommen sie close.


None des this bodes particularly well for the long, long, long-awaited, Netflix-bound adaptation von The Sandman, which recently announced the cast. Gaiman won’t be showrunning this time, despite he zu sein taking a very hands-on role, cowriting ns scripts and serving as in executive producer. Gaiman has also not given up hope on American Gods, and is tweeting through the cancellation about finding the a neu home.

But weil das all his success in the publication world, hollywood has yet zu fully establish Gaiman’s weird, wild worlds—and kommen sie some extent, Gaiman himself ist the culprit for that. Gaiman die author might be ready to murder his darlings zum the sake des a far better book, but Gaiman die TV and filmmaker has yet kommen sie learn the lesson.


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