Why Neil Gaiman toned down House on the Rock in ‘American Gods’


With the premiere of American Gods just over a week away, anticipation for the new Starz show is reaching a fever pitch. Glowing reviews of the first episodes have started rolling in and fans are eager for any new tidbits about the long-awaited show.

Last night at an event in SoHo’s Apple store in New York, a handful of the American Gods crew gathered to dish on the behind-the-scenes goods to a crowd filled with avid fans of both the book and the creative team's prior work. (Case in point: flower-crowned Hannibal fans were smattered throughout the audience). The panel included author Neil Gaiman, show creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, and actors Ian McShane (Mr. Wednesday), Ricky Whittle (Shadow Moon), and Yetide Badake (Bilquis).

Anecdotes were plentiful -- including a story about Cloris Leachman's F-bomb frosted 90th birthday cake -- but the team was mostly tight-lipped about most of the show's big surprises. However, Fuller mentioned that if the show is picked up for a second season, audiences will finally be transported to kitsch heaven on Earth: the House on the Rock. (Gaiman has previously said that the first season would take audiences through the first third of the book, with the second season focusing on the Lakeside part of American Gods.)

Last night, Gaiman appeared reluctant to give away too much too soon, but he did take a few minutes to wax poetic about that famous house full of stuff in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

"It's a real place. A lot of people think I made it up, but I didn't," Gaiman explained. "But what I did wind up doing in the book was tone it down a bit so people would believe it."

"It's amazing isn't it?" Fuller agreed. "It defies description."

"I started leaving things out [of the novel]... like the hundred-person artificial orchestra and the giant carousel that's 50-foot-high on which ancient Victorian dolls just go round and round staring balefully," Gaiman continued. "I think I did mention the four horsemen of the apocalypse hanging from the ceiling in that room. But it's kind of impossible to describe and it [House on the Rock] does have the biggest carousel in the world. And you are not allowed to ride on the biggest carousel in the world... except they let me. And several years ago, they let Bryan. And the photographs of us on the biggest carousel show the happiest men in the world.

"You would think we might have outgrown going round and round on carousels, but we have not," he continued.

Based off of the laughter and awe rolling through the rapt crowd, neither has American Gods' audience.

American Gods premieres on Starz on April 30 at 8 p.m. CST.