Whoopi Goldberg tipped to join filming of Amazon's Anansi Boys in Edinburgh

Star of blockbusters The Colour Purple, Ghost, Sister Act and even Star Trek Next Generation, Hollywood A-lister Whoopi Goldberg is being tipped to join filming of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys in Edinburgh.

By Liam Rudden
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 4:45 pm
Whoopi Goldberg is tipped to be joining filming of Anansi Boys in Edinburgh
Whoopi Goldberg is tipped to be joining filming of Anansi Boys in Edinburgh

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The Oscar winning actor, a self-declared fan of Gaiman's 2005 novel of the same name, is believed to be the next big hitter to be announced for the production, which is expected to be filming in the Capital until May.

Co-written by Gaiman and comedian and actor Lenny Henry, Anansi Boys tells the story of Mr Nancy, the father of separated at birth twins Charlie and Spider. After his death, it’s revealed that Mr Nancy was actually an incarnation of the West African trickster god Anansi.

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Lenny Henry has co-written Anansi Boys with Neil Gaiman

A timid Londoner, Charlie is planning his wedding when he learns of his father's 'inappropriate' death in Florida - Mr Nancy suffered a fatal heart attack while singing to a young woman on the stage of a karaoke bar, accidentally pulling down her top as he died.

After the funeral Charlie not only learns his father was a god but that his hitherto unknown twin brother inherited all his powers and so begins a magical journey of self-discovery, good versus evil and revenge.

Anansi Boys, which has already started filming with indoor location work taking place in Le Monde Hotel, on George Street last week, will see much of the action being shot on the sound stages of First Stage Studios in Leith docks.

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.”

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Fan speculation that Goldberg will make an appearance in the series has been fuelled over recent years by apparent hints dropped by Gaiman himself, including a 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.

‘The first thing she said when we met backstage was that her favourite book was the audio book of Anansi Boys, read by Lenny Henry. And when I told her that there was a part in the book I'd originally written with her in mind, she was overjoyed. So when it became a reality, she was the first person I asked, and the first to agree.’

So who could Goldberg play? Well, many fans believe she could be in the frame for the role of the eerie Bird Woman. God of all the birds and a shape-shifter who can metamorphose from an old woman with a powerful stare into a powerful bird, the character was the only god to get on with Anansi but one with evil intent... of course, in Gaiman's worlds, nothing is ever that simple.

The idea that Goldberg might play the role was first given wings when, in 2018, Gaiman announced on Twitter that Goldberg would moderate the New York Comic Con Good Omens Prime Panel.

When Nadir Muhammad (@Ridan87) replied to that tweet with: ‘For the longest time I thought Whoopi should play Bird woman in Anansi Boys...’ Gaiman (@neilhimself) responded: ‘Me too.’

Whether Gaiman followed through on that thought, we should know very soon.

Should Goldberg jet into Edinburgh next month, she will be joining BAFTA winning actor Malachi Kirby who has been cast in the dual lead roles of Charlie and Spider and British-born American actor Delroy Lindo, who stars as Anansi/Mr Nancy.

The six episodes of Anansi Boys will see Gaiman and Douglas Mackinnon also serving as co-showrunners, replicating their roles on Good Omens 2, which is also being filmed in Edinburgh at the moment.

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