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Bruce Langley on Tech Boy’s Struggle in American Gods Season 3

American Gods Season 3 premieres on Starz on Sunday, January 10, and Vital Thrills got a chance to speak to Bruce Langley, who plays Technical Boy in the series.

He talked about the fracturing relationship between himself and Mr. World, his changing relationship with one of the Old Gods, and Tech Boy’s fashion sense. [Note: We were able to watch the first four episodes in the new season.]

Bruce Langley on Tech Boy's Struggle in American Gods Season 3

Vital Thrills: I’d love to start off with the confrontation between Technical Boy and Bilquis (Yetide Badaki).

Bruce Langley: Yeah, sure! It kind of starts off in the season, Tech Boy is very strongly motivated to get her on his side very quickly. As a result, he comes at her a little more aggressively than usual. It doesn’t work out too well. The power dynamic gets addressed pretty quickly.

What I will say, throughout the season in terms of that – it’s not necessarily always a confrontation between them. Now, I’m not saying it’s friendly. Tech Boy and Bilquis should never be in the same room together. They really shouldn’t. They’re so different.

But that’s obvious. It’s so obvious how they’re different, but this gets them a little into how they are similar. That’s a lot of fun. I won’t give away anything more, but that’s something fun to expect this season.

VT: In terms of acting, what sort of approach did you take in terms of personifying technology?

Langley: Oh wow! What a question! Initially, and I’m kind of going back to Season 1 with this, I initially started to sort of approach it… sort of like a composite consciousness in terms of – part of his brain has access to all of the information in the world, all at the same time, through the Internet.

Part of it is a young deity, formed of people’s adoration and belief and focus and energy, and he’s fed that constantly. And then part of him, for whatever reason, for reasons he may or may not understand, feels very human and very vulnerable and very alone.

So I kind of played with a very weird osmosis between those three building blocks to begin with and let them bleed into each other, and that was how I started off. I mean, it’s an interesting challenge to be told that you’re playing the physical manifestation of a concept. That’s kind of fun.

But then, I mean, ultimately – here’s the thing; they’re all distilled humanity, the Gods. They’re not inhuman. They’re like humans plus. They are very, very human. So you draw on the same things as when you’re building any other character. You’ll pulling from yourself and all the rest of that stuff. It’s just that you have a slightly more abstract starting point.

VT: Technical Boy is having boss issues. His boss is different this time around. Can you tease anything about his relationship with Ms. World (Dominique Jackson)?

Langley: Of course! I mean, the relationship is far from a healthy working one. It really isn’t healthy. I’m lucky. I get to play with multiple versions of World this season. Contentious is, I suppose, the thread that runs throughout. Everyone brings their own different energy to it, which is a lot of fun. It’s always a little fraught and a little on a knife’s edge.

I mean, with Dominique specifically, when she comes in as Ms. World, when she comes in for her intro scene, there’s really no doubt as to who’s in charge. None. That scene was so much fun to shoot. It was, I’m guessing, way less fun to clean up. But for us, it was really fun to do. I guess you get to see a little more tennis, except that one plays constantly has more advantage. [laughs]

VT: Technical Boy gets a sort of rude awakening about what war really is. Would you say that’s something he’s prepared to take on?

Langley: No. No, not at all. So much of the information that he processes is on a theoretical database level. I alluded to this earlier, but part of his consciousness is connected to the Internet, and all of those things, so he has all of this information, all of this raw data, but because of the sheer volume of information he has to process all the time.

I mean, he’s basically like the world’s most – he’s like a dopamine addict on steroids in terms of all these constant hits of information. But very rarely does he stop and connect on an empathetic level and what that might mean. What you saw there [in a scene from Season 3] is an example of him being forced to connect with it on an empathetic level. He’s not used to that.

VT: Last season, he seemed to have as real a connection as he has with anyone, with the CEO (Andrew Koji). Can you talk a bit about whether we’ll see that again and what sort of connection you feel it is?

Langley: Sure. I think that’s a very rare connection that they have there. I mean, they were both so — for whatever reason — I mean, it’s a little more obvious on the CEO’s side – they were both instrumental in each other’s development. That’s huge. That’s like a childhood friend that you – like the kids who are your friends until you’re five years old, that’s something special.

Here’s the thing. Do I think that was a real connection? Yeah, I do. Absolutely. And I think you saw in Season 2, a little flavor of what it was like for Tech Boy when he was essentially cast aside or rendered obsolete by this update program, this updated version of him coming in. And hey, when that new version came in towards the end of Season 2, he lost a little of that love, lost a little of that connection. Maybe it’s still there. Maybe it’s still floating around in there somewhere.

I think he’s going to be a little less willing to — not that he was particularly warm and fluffy before — a little less willing to form connections with people who could use it against him, which is not the best thing for someone in his position. I think he could really do with a series of really long hugs.

VT: The line “evolve or die” is in there quite a bit. Obviously, Tech Boy is evolving the way technology does. Can you give us a little bit of a tease about how far we’ll see that go?

Langley: That’s a very good question. I’ll say he’s put in a position this season where he actually loses access to a lot of his toys. And he loses access to a lot of his backup. And that means that he can’t evolve at the same rate as he is used to. What it actually means is he has his armor stripped away and he has to look at the squishy bit in the middle of who he is, that maybe he doesn’t want to look at; the angry, scared child sort of screaming at an oncoming storm, that little bit of him.

He has to look into that, and by virtue of that, has to look a little bit into his past as to why he is the way he is before he can even think about evolving further. But in that journey, I’d say he discovers even more than if he were to just get another update.

VT: I usually don’t ask actors about costumes, but yours have been pretty spectacular. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Langley: I really lucked out. I get some of the coolest sh*t. It’s amazing. It goes along with the character. He keeps updating all the time. He’s like an app. Everything’s cutting edge. Everything’s new. I think it’s both a gift and a curse, the costumes. [laughs] Even the hair department, bless them. I get some amazing stuff, and they do wonderful work.

The costumes really do have character. They really do. When you put the outfit on, when you’re trying them on to find a combination or a look, you know. Everyone in the room kind of knows. When it works, it just works. You get it. It’s difficult to put your finger on, but you’re like, there he is. There’s the character. Right there. Big shoutout to those guys. They absolutely smash it.

VT: I’d love to know about the relationship last season with New Media (Kahyun Kim), and how she’s kind of taking over. I’d love to hear your thoughts about that and Instagram, Twitter, and new media in general.

Langley: Yup. That’s a very good question. Well, here’s the thing; New Media, is sort of, by virtue of social media and all the rest of these things, becoming a huge filter through which all worship has to pass. But, having said that, it’s operating on the hardware of technology. It’s a weird sort of symbiosis. Whether or not they’re around physically, you can’t have one without the other.

You can’t. No matter how contentious that relationship might be [laughs] in terms of arguing, you can’t have one without the other. They’re two f*cked up sides of the same coin, I guess. They’re both instrumental, but you need both of them. Neither is happy about it.

VT: Technical Boy has probably changed the most of all the characters from the original novel by Neil Gaiman, because of the advances in technology. What do you think of the changes? Is there anything you’d like to see happen to your character going forward?

Langley: Yeah, the changes were absolutely necessary because the technology of today is not the same technology of 19 years ago when the book was written. It had to change. I think they’ve done a really good job with that in terms of keeping him up to date.

What I would perhaps like to see going forward is — I would like to perhaps look a little more into — I don’t think there is another force, if you want to call it that, on the planet that has done more to improve the lives of more people in a more tangible sense than technology. Certainly over the past hundred years, maybe even further back.

Where would we be with our current lockdown situation without FaceTime and Skype and Zoom, and the Internet, YouTube, being able to access all of human information via Google, all the rest of these things? And think about the advances in medical technology and aeronautical engineering and all the rest of this stuff. Tech has changed humanity – in terms of raw metrics, overwhelmingly for the better.

There are a lot of toxic and bad things that happen as a result of it, but overwhelmingly, it’s helped people. And here’s the thing. He’s given the most help to the world, and everyone hates him! I would like to see a little more of acknowledging or leaning into the good that he has done maybe addressed slightly going forward.

The third season of the Starz series will premiere on Sunday, January 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT in the US, as well as internationally on Amazon Prime Video beginning Monday, January 11.