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Ricky Whittle Auditioned For ‘American Gods’ An Insane Amount Of Times

American Gods just debuted on Starz, but it was an insanely long road for Ricky Whittle’s Shadow Moon.

In order to bring Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed 2001 novel to life, Starz along with executive producers Michael Green and Bryan Fuller put out a search for their main character under the hashtag, #CastingShadow. Obviously, the tapes came streaming in, and when it was all said and done, Gaiman, Green, and Fuller saw an astounding 1,200 tapes before finally landing on The 100 alum for American Gods.

Whittle spoke to Shadow and Act and said he didn’t even know about the series until his fans started lighting up his Twitter mentions. That’s when he brought the idea to his reps and was able to snag an audition. He said,

“I started reading the book during the audition process, and Bryan and Michael stopped me because it was affecting my auditions.They stopped me from reading the book early on in the audition process because I was too much like Shadow in the book; quiet, blasé and too laid back. They needed to adapt him to screen. We wanted the character to be more vocal and charismatic and to have a little bit more about him; to ask more questions and to have anxiety and fears.”

Though Fuller and Green liked Whittle, he had to audition an astounding 16 times before he was actually given the role. Fuller told Digital Spy, “We put him through the paces, so he absolutely earned this role and worked very hard for it.”

Still, snagging the role certainly wasn’t the end of Whittle’s battle to become Shadow Moon. He also had a pretty big physical transformation. He told S&A,

“I had to put on thirty-five pounds of weight. It was insane. I went from 175 pounds to 210 pounds. I ate 4,000 calories a day, training two to four hours a day. But, I had to respect the character from the book. He’s an intimidating mass who is described as intimidating enough and don’t F with him enough to survive prison. So, I felt that responsibly to give the fans that character. When I watch him on screen, it’s not even me because he’s a beast, he’s a monster, and I’m looking at it like, “I was massive! How did my back even do that?!”

We’re just glad Whittle stuck it out through the strenuous audition process because his Shadow is certainly a sight to see.

American Gods airs Sundays at 9 PM ET on Starz. You should watch it; it’s legendary.