Interview | Emily Browning, American Gods and the Last Shot of the Season

If you’ve been watching American Gods then you probably already know that last night’s episode, “Git Gone”, was a doozie. Spoiler Alert, because we’re about to talk about this huge episode, and how for the first time this acclaimed fantasy series, developed by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Kings) diverges from the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman.

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods already knew that Laura Moon, played in the series by Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) returns from the dead to aid Shadow Moon on his journey. But the book doesn’t delve nearly as far into Laura’s own experiences as the television series, which this week how miserable she was in life, how miserable she is in death, and how badass she is when she uses her own severed arm as a weapon.

I watched this episode early, prior to the SXSW Film Festival (where I also interviewed the showrunners and the rest of the cast), but when the time came to talk to Emily Browning there was nowhere left to go. The publicists threw us both in a closet to have our brief conversation about the then-upcoming episode, in an interview I’ve been holding onto for months.

“It’s womblike and secure.” That’s how Emily Browning described our unlikely surroundings. And in that somewhat awkward, somewhat comfortable environment… we began to converse.

Jan Thijs / Starz

Jan Thijs / Starz

Also: ‘American Gods’ Producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green (Exclusive Interview)

Crave: We get to know a lot more about Laura in the show than we do in the book…

Emily Browning: Indeed.

What was it like to discover that? Had you read the book, so this was all new, or did you only know the show?

I had never read the book. I read the script first and I then started reading the book when I signed on, and was very into it, but it was like… this, the character, has become such a different thing, and this was so much information to take in. I actually stopped reading the book and didn’t finish it until after we wrapped, because I was like, she’s a new thing and I need to keep this… it felt like it needed to be purer. Because I’m the kind of person like, when I love a book, I was worried that I would read it and then be like, “Um, this is different to the book and we can’t do it.” I’m one of those people. So like, just leave it. Read it after.

In what sense were you feeling that the character had changed?

Well, she’s just there a lot more, you know? I was reading the book as preparation and it felt like, okay, this is actually not great preparation for MY character, and so I’m going to leave it for now and focus on the script and focus on the version of the character that Bryan [Fuller] and Michael [Green] have created.

But I mean, it’s not necessarily that she’s a very different character, it’s just that in the book you don’t get to know her that well. She’s doing a lot of things in the background that you don’t really get to learn about her, and I think she’s a little less synthetic than in the book, perhaps, because you don’t get to see that backstory. I’m hoping that seeing the backstory of her before she dies and when she first meets Shadow… I don’t know that she’s necessarily sympathetic, and I also don’t know if she’s necessarily relatable. [Laughs.] But I think to get an idea of her as a full human being is helpful to understand her.

She seems to be experiencing a bit of a malaise.

Absolutely, yeah. And I get that, I understand that.

I’ve seen episode four and it’s fantastic.

Oh cool. Everyone’s seen it before me. [Laughs.]

Jan Thijs / Starz

Jan Thijs / Starz

Also: Playing God(s) with the ‘American Gods’ Cast (Exclusive Interview)

That’s too bad! I have to ask, what was it like to have to carry around your own arm?

Awesome, and really weird. First of all the prosthetics people, the team of prosthetics people on this show, are unbelievably, unbelievably fucking talented. The arm was… I mean it flocked at the wrist, it sort of bent at the elbow, it was the weight of my arm exactly. It was very unnerving to be carrying it around at first.

[I] remember that, when we first shot that seen where I walk into Betty [Gilpin] in the bathroom? We did the first take and the director came up and said, “Great! Great, that was great. Only problem is you opened the door with your arm that doesn’t exist, so we might need to do it again.” [Laughs.] I opened it with my blue sleeve arm and I’m like, “Shit.” So that was weird, trying to get used to that slightly lopsided thing was odd, but being able to fling it over my shoulder felt pretty badass.

Did you get to keep the arm?

No!

That’s crap.

Because it might… who knows when it will appear again, also? Knowing how that world works it probably costs like twenty billion dollars, so they don’t trust me with that kind of shit. Maybe one day. [Laughs.]

One last thing: what are you most looking forward to getting to, for people to see?

Oooh… in this season?

Sure.

I think I’m most excited to see the very last shot of the season, which is when Laura and Mr. Wednesday finally get to meet, very briefly, for about ten seconds. I won’t say anymore. That’s what I’m excited about!

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Top Photo: STARZ

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.