Anansi Boys: Whoopi Goldberg to play Bird Woman in Amazon’s Neil Gaiman fantasy series Anansi Boys
After months of speculation, it has finally been confirmed that Hollywood superstar Whoopi Goldberg has been cast in Amazon Studios’ adaptation of Anansi Boys, which is filming at FirstStage Studios in Leith.
Based on Neil Gaiman’s 2005 fantasy novel, the six-episode series stars Delroy Lindo as Anansi and Malachi Kirby as both Fat Charlie and Spider.
Playing opposite Lindo and Kirby, Goldberg will play the role of Bird Woman, God of Birds, who exists within The World Before Time.
The story follows the sons of Mr Nancy, an incarnation of West African trickster god Anansi, as they discover one another and embark on an adventure.
The narrative will travel from contemporary London to Florida, the Caribbean and the mythical World Before Time, which is described as “a place of incredible beauty, magic and danger”.
One of the key antagonists, Goldberg’s Bird Woman is the embodiment of all birds, from stately breeds to aggressive seagulls, and was wronged by Anansi long ago.
The 66-year-old star 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.”
Gaiman, who is also showrunner and executive producer, 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.”
Fan speculation that Goldberg would make an appearance in the series had been fuelled over recent times by hints dropped by Gaiman himself, including a Twitter post that read: ‘But I'll give you one clue: one of our cast members was on a public event with me at some point in the last five years’.
Explaining the origin of Anansi Boys, Gaiman has said previously: “Anansi Boys began around 1996, from a conversation I had with Lenny Henry about writing a story that was diverse and part of the culture that we both loved.
“I wrote a novel, an (I hope) joyous and funny book about a dead god and his two sons, about birds and ghosts and beasts and cops, based in Caribbean and African tales. It was my first number one NYT Bestseller, and went on to become a beloved and award winning book.”
The cast of animal gods from the World Before Time includes Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Tiger, Emmanuel Ighodaro as Lion and Cecilia Noble as Elephant.
The World Before Time is one of the locations brought to life at FirstStage Studios in Leith, with the help of a new LED volume stage.