'American Gods' star Orlando Jones talked to Gabrielle Union after firing

Orlando Jones, Gabrielle Union
Orlando Jones, Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union is supporting Orlando Jones after the actor went public with claims he was fired from American Gods.

Jones, who plays fan-favorite Mr. Nancy on the Starz show, said new showrunner Charles Eglee wasn't bringing the character back for Season 3 because he felt it sent the "wrong message for black America." In a fiery post, the actor also called out production company Fremantle, which has been in the headlines lately as it's one of the producers of America's Got Talent. Union said she was fired from AGT after voicing concerns about toxic culture on set. In an interview with Variety, the actor revealed Union privately reached out to him over after publicly offering her support on social media Friday.

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"This is exactly what Gabrielle is describing," he said. "I’m literally trying to save you from yourself, because you’ve got these characters here, and you don’t want to do anything for them, but then you want to say that you care about the LGBTQ+ community… so help me understand how, what my role is here. How am I your enemy? And that’s how Gabrielle felt."

"We said it to each other, almost at the same time, that this isn’t about money," he continued. "It’s about the people who are going to come behind us, who are going to find themselves in this same position."

Jones said he was "fired" on Sept. 10 and that he never received notice he wouldn't be returning, which prevented him from taking other jobs.

In a statement to Yahoo Entertainment an American Gods spokesperson said, "The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Jones’ option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon’s world that will further contribute to the show’s legacy as one of the most diverse series on television."

Jones wanted fans to hear from him why he wouldn't be appearing on Season 3.

"And at some point I gotta say something," he told Variety. "So I just repeated what they had said. All I can say is what I was told. And all what I was told was, 'angry gets s*** done' is the wrong message for black America, and that the new showrunner [Chic Eglee] writes from a black male perspective.”

The actor continued, "He told everybody that he wrote from the black male perspective, told everybody that he thought [Nancy] was bad for black America."

Jones noted that he worked in the writer's room during Season 2 and was asked by author Neil Gaiman, who wrote “American Gods”, to create a character bible for Mr. Nancy. The actor said he became a consulting producer and wrote for other characters as well, primarily characters of color, including Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), Salim (Omid Abtahi), Jinn (Mousa Kraish) and Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs). He pointed out that a number of the show’s characters of color, including Salim and Jinn, are gone. Kraish confirmed on Twitter that he was also told he wasn’t returning as Jinn.

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"To now pretend that this is just about some creative direction is really insulting," Jones said. "My hope is that nobody finds himself in a scenario where they go into a show, and this is what they deal with: a 19-month hiatus taking you out of work, and then to be fired summarily at the last minute."

He continued, "I wish these people acted more responsibly. I wish they acted more respectfully. And it would have been nice to get a proper ‘thank you’ and would have been nice to be paid. You know, my children aren’t in cages. I’m not in Aleppo. I still see myself as very privileged and, and I’m super grateful. But nobody else needs to go through this. Not for doing your work, for doing your job, to get screwed over like this."

[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Dec. 16, 2019 at 1:26 p.m. ET and has been updated to note the show’s statement.]

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