Miami Living Magazine

Harry Connick Jr

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Oh. My. American Gods. Ricky Whittle steps into the biggest tole of his career Words by Vanessa Pascale Photography by Diana Ragland Grooming by Helen Robertson at Celestine Agency Wardrobe styling by Joeen Garnett and Jessica Margolis Ricky Whittle looks as if he just came from a Calvin Klein photo shoot. The 6'1" model-turned-actor is wearing a slate grey newsboy cap, a fitted black button-up, grey jeans, and has a black scarf looped around his neck. I am intentionally five minutes early (so I can freshen up), but he is already in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien when I arrive. I will later find out that being early was instilled in him as a child. ("My dad raised me that if you're on time, you're late… so I had to always be early.") I must say, that photos, film, TV, do not do this handsome man justice – he is even dreamier in-person with those brown eyes, disarming smile, and sexy British accent (the latter I had no clue he even had). We canvass the hotel for a quiet spot and find ourselves in their enclosed rooftop pool area, where we sink into lounge chairs across from one another. "This is how much I've changed, I now only do interviews by the pool," quips Ricky with a smile. A nice spot, especially when outfitted in winter wear, I point out. "In full hat, jeans, and scarf. Uh, yeah, I wasn't expecting to do it here, but I'm cozy. There's a beautiful view and I can't complain. It's raining to remind me of home." (Ricky grew up in Manchester, England.) As the rain softly taps on our snow-globe-like milieu on this cold December night, Manhattan's towering cityscape peer in on us, eavesdropping on our conversation. Actually, eavesdroppers would have good reason to want to listen in, since I am with the star of a TV show that is predicted to be huge. On April 30th, Ricky brings Shadow Moon, from Neil Gaiman's award-winning 2001 fantasy novel, to life in Starz's TV series adaptation of American Gods. The series is expected to bring in a significant viewership as it already has a built-in fan base. Landing the coveted role of Shadow Moon is major — Ricky beat out myriad actors for it. "You kinda think, they probably have twenty guys in their head and they'll whittle it down the line. But no, there was literally casting agents from all over the world sending their men for this role because it's going to be such an iconic role, hopefully. They wanted to make sure they saw everyone possible." Every black or mixed race actor in Hollywood, whether they could've done it or not, from Jason Momoa to Jesse Williams was considered to play the ambiguous character, he tells. "You don't really get more ambiguous than me. No one has a clue what I am or where I'm from," says Ricky, whose hat was thrown into the ring by the book's fans. The five-month audition process was intense, but necessary, since you see the whole show through Shadow's eyes. "It's very much about him and they needed to make sure that they got the right person to portray everything that they need the audience to feel." Honored to bring Neil's vision to the screen, Ricky calls the script the most complex he's ever read and expects that it will reshape the landscape of television. "We first meet Shadow Moon in prison and two days before he's due to be released, he gets the news that his wife dies. So, he's released

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