‘American Gods” Ian McShane: Emmy’s next winking devil?

“There are bigger sacrifices one might be asked to make than going a little mad,” says Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday in “American Gods” while urging Ricky Whittle (as Shadow Moon) to join his crazy schemes.

You’d think Ricky would know better than to take the vaguely defined job as Wednesday’s body guard when it’s clear that his new boss is diabolically evil and probably insane. Ricky just got out of prison and doesn’t want to go back, but Wednesday has a sly, playful wink that makes him irresistible. And deadly.

But it’s hard to resist a winking devil, especially at Hollywood awards, so now we must wonder: Will McShane finally win his overdue Emmy after a past loss for “Deadwood” (2005)? McShane is one of TV’s hippest actors who now has a grandstanding role in TV’s hottest new series. That’s usually the perfect formula for Emmy victory.

Look at all of the other cool cats who triumphed as winking devils who we just couldn’t resist rooting for: James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”) and Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”), among others. At the Oscars, there have been lots of past examples, too: J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”), Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight”), Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained,” “Inglourious Basterds”), etc. Hmmm … what does that voting trend tell us about the dark souls of Hollywood voters, eh?

Buzz and adulation for “American Gods” are building fast – it’s an obvious cult hit in the making, maybe even one with the potential of “Game of Thrones” or “Breaking Bad.” Emmy voters: Pay attention. “American Gods” is brilliant, gasp-inducing TV worthy of worship — and lots of awards.

Emmy submissions: Starz category placements for ‘American Gods,’ ‘The Missing,’ ‘The White Princess’ and more

Photo: Ian McShane in “American Gods” with all-time Emmy champ Cloris Leachman (8 wins). Courtesy of Starz

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