The controversy over Orlando Jones’ termination from American Gods is heating up. The actor is considering taking legal action against the show’s producer Fremantle.
Jones told Deadline, “That’s exactly right. That’s the only place to go.” After stating all he can say is he is considering it, he commented on the “madness” of meeting with lawyers.
He defended himself and how he has tried to conduct himself in this situation. “I tried to be two things here,” said Jones. “One is not emotional. One, not to see myself as a victim because frankly that’s the problem.”
Mr. Nancy, his character, not playing the victim became problematic to the producers, in his view:
“They only see people of color as victims so they write you as victims. So, Mr. Nancy not operating as a victim because he’s a god and not a human suddenly became problematic. All of these are the mindsets of individuals who think a certain way about certain people. That’s what we’re dealing with here.”
They are singling out proclivities they find fault with, Jones continued:
“You can call that race, sex, homophobic, whatever proclivity that somebody has decided to single you out and make you feel like an asshole for, there are plenty of fat, tall, freckled, ugly, whatever the fuck it is they’ve decided this week.”
Jones was let go from his duties as writer, actor, and producer on American Gods on Sept. 10th. He didn’t say anything until Dec. 14th when he posted a video on Twitter claiming racism on the part of the new showrunner, Chic Eglee.
Said Jones in his post:
“This white man sits in that decision-making chair and I’m sure he has many black bffs who are his advisors and made it clear to him that if he did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy he’d start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?”
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) December 14, 2019
Fremantle is sticking with their original statement conveyed by a spokesperson that Jones’ dismissal was the result of not picking up his contract for a third season and changes coming to the storyline. The spokesperson said the following to Deadline:
“We stand by our original statement around the ever-evolving storylines and characters that weave in and out of American Gods. While we greatly appreciate Mr. Jones’ contributions to Seasons 1 and 2, we are disappointed he feels the need to make inaccurate accusations regarding the non-renewal of his contract. Our efforts are focused on Season 3 and working with our amazing cast, crew, and creators.”
— American Gods US (@americangodsus) May 4, 2019
Jones disputes that, insisting they were contractually obligated to give him a release letter:
“Two, why do I not have in my hand a release letter, because when your option isn’t renewed with the studio that’s what they send you to let you know that so that you can go get other work. Where is that letter that is in my contract that you have to give me? You can’t just notify me by phone call. No contract works that way because other people want to make sure that they’re not infringing on Starz’s rights by looking to employ me as a series regular if I’m contracted elsewhere and they’re holding exclusivity.”
He maintains he reached out to Fremantle months in advance and heard nothing, his contract was for three years, and his manager was led to believe Jones would remain an actor, producer, and writer in season three.
Jones also maintains there is a racial element to the whole thing but it’s on the part of the studio:
“And if Fremantle doesn’t have a race problem, then why did they single out the black guy? Then why did they point out to the black guy that he wasn’t particularly worthwhile to them because they hired a white guy who believed he could write as a black guy and that they didn’t really think that the black guy should continue because he was suddenly going to cause a problem with black America?”
He added the “angry get sh*t done” was written by former executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green (who stand behind Jones) and approved by Fremantle and Starz – the network which airs American Gods.
— American Gods US (@americangodsus) November 28, 2019
Jones reiterated what he told Variety – the “point of this” is dealing “with people respectfully” and giving those brought in suddenly the tools “to do their best job.” “That’s really what this is about for me on a huge level,” he said.
People involved in the show and fans have shown support for Orlando Jones since he went public. However, no one like Neil Gaiman or star Ricky Whittle has called him yet, according to Jones.
It was announced this week Mousa Kraish (Jinn) won’t return for American Gods Season Three either.