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Yetide Badaki Cast as “Old God” Bilquis in Adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’

Yetide Badaki Cast as "Old God" Bilquis in Adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 'American Gods'

Starz and FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) announced today that Yetide Badaki has been cast as Bilquis in the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel, “American Gods.”

Badaki joins Ricky Whittle who will star as Shadow Moon.

Bilquis, one of the “Old Gods” in the novel, was the legendary Queen of Sheba. She was also believed to be half-jinn, and was known for her beauty and for her wise leadership. 

In an interview with Den of Geek when the adaptation was greenlit, producer Bryan Fuller shared some details on how Bilquis would translate to screen: “One of the exciting things for us in adapting this is that we get to expand characters, so Bilquis, who is only in a chapter of the book, then you don’t see her again, is a major player in this world.”

So we’ll get to see more of the character in the TV series than was written in the original source.

Fuller also shared the following (SPOILERS), speaking at length about a key scene (SPOILERS) in which (SPOILERS) Bilquis devours a man with her vagina. Fuller promised to film the scene just as it’s written in the book: “One of the most amazing sequences for me when I was reading it was the Goddess Bilquis eating a man with her vagina! I think it’s beautifully written in the novel. What I love about how Neil’s laid out that sequence is that you’re in the gentleman caller’s point of view for his climax and the reeling of that. I mean, what is it like to cinematically deliver an orgasm to an audience that… more than likely, is not experiencing an orgasm at that moment, although you never know! Being in his point of view in the novel, he comes out of his orgasmic revelry and then he realises that he’s kind of hanging upside down, chest-deep from her. We plan to deliver that moment as it is written, because I believe that we can, and that’s very exciting for us because we were breaking that story and thinking, we are just going to lift that right out of the book and drop it right into the show. That came up in the Starz meeting, they were like, ‘how are you going to do that moment?’ and we said, ‘we’re going to do it exactly as written’.”

Read the full interview with Fuller here.

Yetide Bataki’s resume comprises of mostly TV credits, with appearances in episodes of series like “Criminal Minds,” “Aquarius,” “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Masters of Sex.”

“American Gods” 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 President of Original Programming Ken Segna is the Starz executive in charge of “American Gods.”

The series will begin shooting in April.

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