What does a potential god do when running away from both existential and very real threats? Head Down Under, of course!
English actor Ricky Whittle, who plays ex-con-turned-reluctant-hero Shadow Moon in the Amazon Prime Video series American Gods, will touch down in Melbourne for Oz Comic-Con from June 8-9.
"I have had a fantastic time in my previous visits in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide," Ricky, 37, tells TV WEEK, "and all anyone talks about is how great Melbourne is, and I'm like, 'Well, that's fantastic, but I have not been there yet'. So I finally get to knock this one off the list, and I'm really excited. I can't wait!"
No stranger to comic-style fandom from his time as Lincoln in The 100, Ricky has enjoyed meeting new fans of his work in American Gods, the second season of which ended with Shadow distancing himself his dead ex-wife Laura Moon (Emily Browning), the minions of Mr World (Crispin Glover) who are coming after him, and his boss, Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane).
"I think we've just realised, as Shadow did in the finale of season two, that their relationship is a lot close than he realised, and the biggest reveal of all was Shadow figuring that out," Ricky says of Shadow's daddy issues with Mr Wednesday, which will come to the fore in season three.
"What does that mean for Shadow now? Who is he? What is he? What could he do? It's almost like a small little origin story," Ricky adds. "What do you do when you find out that sort of thing? Can I move cups with my mind? Can I fly? It's going to be very intriguing."
In the real world, Ricky is just thrilled to see fans dress up.
"Cosplayers love a challenge, and they love uniqueness," he explains. "And so you may have a favourite character, but that might not necessarily be your favourite costume that you would want to recreate. So for me, I think, and I told the cast members during the season, without a shadow of a doubt, I'd be shocked if people don't cosplay as Technical Boy."
For Ricky, as soon as he saw actor Bruce Langley in his season two Technical Boy costumes, specifically "the whole white onesie, with the flashing lights", he insists, "I was like, I know that literally a light bulb had just gone off in thousands of cosplayers around the world. He looks like a superhero. He looks incredible!"
Aside from looks, Ricky admits he has a fantastic time being the prank king on set. He had promised after season one to gun for pal Pablo Schreiber (who plays Mad Sweeney), but he never got a chance to get back at him in season two since they did not do many scenes together.
"He had quite a bit of time off, and so he goes back to his family because he's like a super dad," Ricky mock-laments. "He is just one of those annoyingly amazing men, who is just good looking, talented, a beautiful heart, loving father. So I didn't get to prank him as much as I wanted to, but I was able to definitely work through some of the rest of the cast!"
Such as? "Mousa Kraish, who plays the Jinn, has been receiving a lot of my abuse," Ricky confesses. "And I'm looking forward to next season as well. Kahyun Kim, who plays New Media, is very open to being bullied around the prank table. She's got quite a hilarious sense of humour, so you need to watch out for her in season three, and Bruce Langley, he's all sweet and innocent, but that Technical Boy comes from somewhere! So he's got that little devil inside him as well."
One person who gets only respect from Ricky is Ian McShane. "Working with Ian, he such an incredible actor and he's so giving that he's so easy to react to," Ricky says. "It's a fantastic education for a young actor to just watch his choices, so I really enjoy going toe-to-toe with some of the best actors of our generation."
Ricky will join panels and sign autographs at Oz Comic-Con Melbourne, which runs from 8 – 9 June at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. For more details, go to ozcomiccon.com.