The Latest Sandman Castings – And The Stories Behind Them Explained By Neil Gaiman
Netflix has announced the cast for the live action series The Sandman and it does so through the words of its creator, the great Neil Gaiman.
Every afternoon I get an email saying there are “dailies” from The Sandman ready to be seen. It is the best time of the day. Once every two weeks I receive an email that there is a finished episode waiting for me to watch it. It is the best of the month. We’re creating The Sandman and it’s… well, it’s The Sandman. That is the best of all.
You already know that The Sandman is based on my comic book series of the same name. It is a delightful mix of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend intertwine seamlessly. The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the King of Sleep, as he makes amends for the cosmic – and human – mistakes he has made during his vast existence.
You all know that Tom Sturridge (he) is Dream, of the Eternals, Gwendolyn Christie (she) is Lucifer, Sanjeev Bhaskar (he) and Amid Chaudry (he) are Cain and Abel, Charles Dance (he) is Roderick Burgess “Demon King ”, Vivienne Acheampong (she) is Lucienne, and Boyd Holbrook (he) is The Corinthian.
But there are more characters to be announced. And I thought it would be fun to tell you about some of them, and the idea behind them.
Sueño’s wisest, nicest, and much wiser sister. It has been much more difficult to select than one would have imagined (well, at least than I imagined). Hundreds of talented women, from all over the planet, auditioned; they were brilliant, but none of them were suitable. It had to be on the one hand someone who could tell Sueño the truth, but also be the person you want to meet when your life is over. And then we saw Kirby Howell-Baptiste (her) audition and knew we had our Death.
Brother of dream and everything you could wish for, whatever it is, whoever it is. Wish is also a problem for Sueño. Families are complicated. We were starting to look when Mason Alexander Park (elle) contacted us on Twitter throwing himself into the ring. We were very excited when we found out he had landed the role.
Twin of Desire, sister of Dream. She is the moment when all hope is lost, the darkest of the Eternals. Donna Preston plays her, and her performance is creepy and sad. You feel their pain.
An adventurous exorcist from the 18th century, she is the great-great-grandmother of John Constantine. This Sandman character became so popular that he even had his own spinoff series. I created it to fill the role that John Constantine does in the past. When we broke down the first season, since we knew we would meet Johanna in the past, we wondered what would happen if we encountered a version of her in the present as well. We tested it and the script was livelier, more combative and, in a way, more fun. So after we wrote it, we just had to give him a piece of paper. Jenna Coleman (she) gave us the Johanna of our dreams: tough, brilliant, complex, haunted, and probably doomed.
The love of Roderick Burgess, John Dee’s mother, plays a small but vital role in the comics, but it grew in importance as we told our story. In the 20s and 30s, she is played by Niamh Walsh (her): a betrayed and determined young woman who seeks to survive. Today, a woman of a hundred identities and a thousand lies, she is played by the brilliant Joely Richardson (her).
Ethel’s son is dangerous. He went crazy, a long time ago. Now he is free and is on a quest for the Truth that can destroy the world. We needed an actor who could break your heart and that you could empathize with while taking you to the darkest places. We were lucky that David Thewlis (him) took the role.
We are now shooting The Dollhouse, the second great story line for The Sandman. It is the story of:
A young woman desperately searching for her missing brother, finding a family she didn’t know he had, and a connection to Sueño that neither of them will be able to escape. We needed someone young who could make you care while venturing into very dangerous places. After all, the Corinthian, played by Boyd Holbrook, awaits her. Kyo Ra (she) gets it as Rose.
Rose’s friend, a young widow who mourns her husband Hector. But Rose does not know that Hector has started to appear in Lyta’s dreams. Or that strange things are happening. Razane Jammal (she) is Lyta, and she’s terrific.
Rose’s heiress and mysterious benefactress. A century has passed asleep. Now she is awake, having lost her life. It is played by James Young.
Rose Walker’s stylish protector. A deft hand with the paradox and the sword staff. Stephen Fry (he) is a “National Treasure”, and sometimes we forget that he is also an extraordinary actor. Seeing him in costume and makeup in the dailies made me blink: it was as if the comedian had come to life.
He is Sueño’s trusted messenger, a raven. I was expecting our animals to be CGI, and I was surprised and excited when the dailies started to arrive and Dream appeared talking to… well, a crow. But the crows do not speak. The point was to find an actor who could make you care about a dead person who was now a bird in the Dream realm – someone who is not sure what is going on, or if something that happens is really a good idea. And could we find a voice actor who was also the kind of Sandman fan who used to stand in line to get his old comics signed? The answer is yes, if we asked Patton Oswalt (him). And Patton was the first person we asked, and the first person we hired, the day before we introduced The Sandman to Netflix.
Of course, there are a lot more wonders and nightmares in the cast than I’ve listed here, and we’ve got a few more secrets up our sleeves. I am looking forward to seeing it.
About the Sandman
The Sandman is a new Netflix dark fantasy series based on the comic book series The Sandman created for DC by Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, Coraline). Gaiman is also an executive producer and co-writer. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television.
Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, Grey’s Anatomy) serves as executive producer and showrunner. David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Terminator: Dark Fate, Foundation) also serves as executive producer, and they are both co-writers on the project.