Amazon Studios today announced that Academy Award- and Emmy-winner Whoopi Goldberg has been cast as Bird Woman in the series adaptation of Anansi Boys, based on Neil Gaiman’s internationally beloved novel. The six-episode series stars Malachi Kirby in the leading roles of brothers Fat Charlie and Spider. Anansi Boys is set throughout contemporary London and follows an exciting cast of characters in an epic story that stretches from the UK to Florida, the Caribbean, and the mythical World Before Time. The series is currently filming in Scotland and will premiere on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy (Malachi Kirby) – sometimes known as Fat Charlie (it was his father’s nickname for him; he’s not fat) – a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that he was Anansi: Trickster God of stories (played by Delroy Lindo). And he learns that he has a brother. Now that brother, Spider (also played by Kirby), is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting – but making it a lot more dangerous instead.
Whoopi Goldberg will take up the mantle of Bird Woman, God of Birds and one the show’s key antagonists. She is the latest casting to be announced, along with a full pantheon of gods who make up the mythical World Before Time – a place that isn’t a place, where the animals who are gods still walk. A place of incredible beauty, magic, and danger.
Whoopi Goldberg said: “I have been a fan of this book for a very long time and when Neil Gaiman told me it was being brought to the screen, I did everything I could to be part of it to help make people aware of Anansi and all his magic.”
The cast of animal gods from the World Before Time includes:
Whoopi Goldberg has been cast as Bird Woman. She’s the embodiment of birds. Not just beautiful stately birds in flight. Anyone who’s had a close encounter with a seagull knows that some birds are more dangerous than others, and Bird Woman is the most dangerous of them all. Long ago Anansi did her wrong. Now may be her chance to turn the tables.
Hakeem Kae-Kazim has been cast as Tiger. He’s still angry with Anansi for stealing the stories, for making fun of him, and for coming out on top. Tiger (it’s the name of any Big Cat in the Caribbean) is a dangerous enemy to Anansi and all his bloodline.
Emmanuel Ighodaro will play Lion. He’s proud and noble and has no time for Anansi.
Cecilia Noble has been cast as Elephant. She’s old and wise, and hates Anansi.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson will play Snake. She’s beautiful and deadly and hates Anansi.
Don Gilet will play Monkey. He’s terrified of Anansi, keen on food – particularly fruit – and has the attention span of, well, a monkey…
Co-showrunner, writer, and executive producer Neil Gaiman said: “When I first conceived Anansi Boys, decades ago, I imagined Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman. I wasn’t able to meet her until 2018, when she interviewed me with some of the Good Omens team at New York Comic Con. At which point she mentioned that she had just finished listening to Sir Lenny Henry’s reading of Anansi Boys, and that it was one of her favourite books. Sometimes things feel planned and inevitable, and we are incredibly lucky. She’s going to be scary.”
The World Before Time is just one of the locations being brought to life at FirstStage Studios in Leith, Scotland, with the help of a newly built LED volume stage. As well as the World Before Time, the studios are being transformed to create other key locations in the book including Brixton and Florida.
In addition to Kirby and Lindo, previously announced cast includes Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn as Rosie Noah, Grace Saif as Detective Constable Daisy Day, Jason Watkins as Grahame Coats, Fiona Shaw as Maeve Livingstone, CCH Pounder as Mrs. Higgler, L. Scott Caldwell as Mrs. Dunwiddy, Joy Richardson as Mrs. Bustamonte, and Lachele Carl as Miss Noles.
Gaiman, Henry, Douglas Mackinnon, Hanelle M. Culpepper, Hilary Bevan Jones (Endor Productions), and Richard Fee (RED Production Company) are executive producers. Gaiman and Henry write for the series along with Arvind Ethan David, Kara Smith, and Racheal Ofori. Gaiman and Mackinnon serve as co-showrunners. Culpepper (Star Trek: Picard, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) also directs the pilot. Paul Frift serves as producer.
The show is produced by Amazon Studios, The Blank Corporation, Endor Productions, and RED Production company. With this announcement, Amazon Studios continues its relationship with Gaiman, who has an overall deal with the studio.
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