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AMERICAN GODS’ Mad Sweeney on That Game-Changing Book Deviation

Editor’s Note: there are MAJOR spoilers ahead for episode seven of American Gods, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.” Do not read if you don’t want to be totally spoiled, OK? 

It isn’t very often that a TV adaptation expands upon a book-based character (or characters) in a way that deepens their nuance and connection to the story. But, somehow, the brilliant bastards behind American Gods have done just that. In Neil Gaiman‘s novel, Mad Sweeney was a criminally underused fan favorite while Laura Moon was but a wisp in the background of a much bigger story. But for both characes, that is no longer the case. In the hands of Bryan Fuller and Michael Green—and actors Pablo Schreiber and Emily Browning especially—their connection to the story, and one another, has blossomed into something new and beautiful and devastating, which we saw on full display in Sunday night’s seventh episode, “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney.”


To get he inside scoop, we went straight to the gift horse’s mouth—Mr. Schreiber—to talk about how the series’ new take on the characters bridges an interesting gap for both in the story and creates a beautiful mirror for the journey onto which they’re about to embark.

Across mediums, Mad Sweeney’s American origin story is told through a character named Essie (in the novel, her name is Essie Tregowan; here, it’s Essie Macgowan). In this slightly revamped iteration of Essie, however, she is played by actress Emily Browning, adding a new layer to the complex, deeply intertwined (and, frankly, poetic) relationship between the lucky lad and the dead wife. It’s a fascinating dynamic made all the more exciting and engaging in this new take on the story.

And if you’re looking for more insight into Mad Sweeney’s bigger, bawdier role in the Starz series, why don’t you watch part one of our interview with him?

What do you think of the new layers adding to the Sweeney/Laura relationship? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Starz

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of Nerdist and creator/co-host of Fangirling. Find her on Twitter (because she’s an unfortunate slave to the new gods). 

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