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‘The First Time’ With Ian McShane

Actor Ian McShane kicked off the most recent episode of The First Time with the story of how he first got involved with American Gods.

McShane initially didn’t think he was the right fit for the series after being offered the role of Czernobog (played by Peter Stormare in the series) back in 2016, but he became fond of his character, Mr. Wednesday, after reading the script.

“I said [Mr. Wednesday] is a little more interesting,” McShane recalls. “And [writer/producer] Michael [Green] said, ‘Well you know, we’ll talk about it. I thought you might not want to do a series. [Czernobog] would be more of a guest star.’ I said, ‘Well, whatever. Mr. Wednesday — that’s what I had in [my mind].’ And sure enough, a few days later, they came back and offered [the role to] me.”

The Deadwood star didn’t meet Neil Gaiman — the author of the American Gods novel on which the TV series is based — until the third day of filming for the show. Gaiman came to set that day, but filming was delayed due to a technical glitch.

“They wouldn’t shoot anything for two hours. So we had a nice chat,” he says. “It was good. The start of a beautiful friendship.”

The actor then shares his earliest experiences watching his favorite soccer team, Manchester United. His father, Harry McShane, played for the team back in the Fifties.

“Manchester United is very much a part of my life. I grew up with it,” McShane says. “I went to school opposite [the stadium]. It’s a way of life, you know?”

The actor then pivots to what it was like finding out Deadwood was returning for a movie, watching The Simpsons (one of his favorite shows), playing Winston in the John Wick franchise, and meeting his personal idol, Marlon Brando.

Season 3 of American Gods is streaming now on Starz.

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