Emily Browning Isn't Playing Just Another Dead Girl In A Field

"How long until all this is just maggots?" Laura Moon wonders about her reanimated body as she drags it across an America in the midst of a godly war.

In 2017, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green adapted Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods into a series, dripping with stunning visuals and boasting an incredible ensemble cast. The series follows a man named Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) who -- after the sudden death of his wife Laura Moon (Emily Browning) is released early from prison to attend her funeral.

On his travels, he meets a mysterious man named Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) and soon, unwittingly, becomes the lynchpin in a brewing war between the Old Gods and the New Gods.

There’s also a smattering of leprechaun magic -- as there always is -- which leads to Laura coming back from the dead and attempting to track down her husband while he travels across America as Wednesday’s right-hand man.

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Browning was approached by Fuller and Green to join the cast, and despite having never read the novel, she was given the script for the first season’s fourth episode titled “Git Gone”, named after the preferred brand of bug spray Laura routinely huffs. She is, to put it lightly, a complex woman.

“I had never really read a character like that before,” Browning told 10 daily, “The fact that she has very few redeeming qualities. She’s just very unapologetic, very difficult to like but really funny and kind of irreverent.”

Laura’s cause of death involves a long affair with her imprisoned husband’s best friend and some unfortunate consequences of performing oral sex in a moving vehicle.

American Gods Season 2 2019
Laura Moon hasn't had a great deal of luck with automobiles. Image: Amazon Prime Video.

“I feel like, as a female actor, there’s always such a focus on trying to be likeable,” Browning said.

“No matter if you’re playing the bad girl or the good girl, you have to be lovable. People have to love you and it’s really exhausting, it gets in the way of properly embodying a character,” the 30-year-old said.

Always drawn to anti-heroes herself, the Laura Moon character was the first opportunity Browning had to really sink her teeth into what she described as a character who does “shitty things, but you like watching them anyway”.

“I just loved her immediately,” she said.

American Gods is the kind of show where, during an interview with one of the stars, the phrase “sucked into the vagina nebula” can pop up out of nowhere. Now in its second season, and already greenlit for a third, the show's characters are grappling with the first blows of war. Retreating to their sides to recruit, prepare and strategise accordingly.

American Gods Season 2 2019
Shadow, Wednesday and a handful of friends visit The House on the Rock in season two. Image: Amazon Prime Video.

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Laura spent a lot of time with Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), a leprechaun desperate to retrieve his lucky coin which, unfortunately for him, is buried in Laura’s corpse and keeping her alive... or, reanimated at least. In the second season, she becomes part of the gang attempting to wage a war against gods like Roads, Technology and New Media.

“I became really close to the cast mostly through the promotion of season one,” Browning said, “so to be able to act with a lot of these people was really enjoyable for me. Just to see how Laura’s dynamic shifts with different characters.”

But Laura’s relationship with Sweeney is a big focus of both seasons, “They’re kind of like partners in crime,” Browning explained, “and I felt the same way. I love everyone on this show and I love working on it so much but when I’m in scenes without Pablo, there’s a little part of me that feels slightly lost -- like I don’t know who Laura is without Sweeney.”

Exploring relationships with other characters has also been an interesting experience for Browning after seeing how audiences responded to her character in the first season.

“Laura is a very divisive character. People either love her or they really, really hate her which I’m very much into,” Browning said. “That’s really, really fun for me.”

“This is my first big TV show and it’s interesting to come into a second season with an awareness of what the fans think and what they want from the characters and to play around with that a little bit.”

American Gods made headlines after its release when it was announced Fuller and Green -- the original showrunners -- were stepping away from the series citing creative differences. That also meant Fuller regulars Gillian Anderson and Kristin Chenoweth left with him.

“Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are like my dads,” Browning said, “they’re two of my favourite people in the world.”

Premiere Of STARZ's "American Gods" Season 2 - Arrivals
Browning and Whittle at the season two premiere of 'American Gods'. Image: Paul Butterfield/FilmMagic.

Browning explained that Fuller and Green were the driving forces to building out Laura from the character as she appears in the original novel to something more robust for TV. “My character on the show, they created her. They’re Laura’s dads so I was obviously heartbroken when they left but I understand that’s how this world works.”

“Season two was tricky,” Browning said, “we had a few little pieces that weren’t quite in place.” One of those pieces may have been Jesse Alexander, who was brought on to fill Fuller and Green’s place as showrunner but, after ongoing delays, was moved aside.

“I know everyone on every show says, ‘Oh the cast love each other,’ but I feel like that’s usually bullsh*t. With our show it isn’t,” she said. “We are so protective of each other, of our characters and each other’s characters and we knew them so well at that point that, we had a few speedbumps in season two but I hope we were able to all collectively get over them together.”

2019 SXSW Film Festival Portrait Studio
Bruce Langley, Pablo Schreiber, Omid Abtahi, Crispin Glover, Demore Barnes, Mousa Kraish, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning and Yetide Badaki, the cast of 'American Gods'. Image: Robby Klein/Getty Images.

Heading into the third season, the series has tapped Charles Eglee, producer of The Walking Dead, Dexter and Hemlock Grove, to step up to the plate.

“I’m excited to meet him,” Browning said, “I have confidence we’ll be able to keep bringing a show to audiences that they’re used to but we can hopefully surprise them.”

“Hopefully we can bring some new, weird, bizarre plot twists and yeah, I’m excited about it. I’m always excited to go back to set with that giant group of f**kin’ weirdos.

"I love Laura so much, I don’t think I’ve ever been so invested in a character’s story. I’m really excited about it.”

American Gods is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.