Sandman, Netflix’s adaptation of the homonymous work by Neil Gaiman, is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. The production is the result of a long journey of the original material through studios, production companies and versions. With its 75 volumes, telling the adventures of the Lord of Dreams became a curious challenge. Especially, due to the enormous number of characters that populate the story.
How do you translate the long, cast-packed narrative into a faithful adaptation for a larger audience? The answer came with Netflix, which offered all kinds of advantages and a large budget for the project. Only then did Gaiman agree to turn his most famous work into a streaming production.
And he did it with a moving, detailed and complex result that surprises with its attention to the most sensitive points of the plot. The Netflix series, in ten chapters, adapts the founding arc of the comic. But it also does something else :ttransforms the inspired original vignettes into a larger universe. Especially thanks to a well-chosen cast that embodies the favorite characters of an entire generation with sensitivity and intelligence. Sandman it is the result of the efforts of a talented group of creators, who reproduced the supernatural landscapes and translated them into an immersive experience.
In this way, and so that you do not get lost in the plot, we will tell you about the five characters of the comic Sandman that reach their television adaptation and that you should know to better understand the story.
One of the problems that the Netflix adaptation faced was, of course, finding the ideal actor for its central character. Morpheus/Dream, Lord of Dreams, is the core of the plot. He is also a pivotal figure in contemporary pop culture. As much as to inspire songs, poems and even analogous stories and tributes. The pale, sinister, cold and ambiguous figure imagined by Gaiman has a long shadow in the world of entertainment.
Finding an actor who could embody such a combination of sensibilities was not easy. Gaiman spent months studying hundreds of candidates. Although, as he would say at Comic-Con 2022, his choice was always British actor Tom Sturridge. That, despite listening to “more than a thousand different auditions.”
In Sandman, Sturridge’s performance surprises by managing to capture the duality of Morpheus. As the ruler of the dream world, he can be both ruthless and vulnerable. Also cunning, bold and “fiercely independent” in Gaiman’s words. Qualities that the actor managed to capture in the whole collection of peculiar shades of him.
Every great story needs an extraordinary opponent for its hero. and in the comic SandmanLucifer Morningstar, ruler of Hell, is. The most beautiful, wise and powerful angel of creation, expelled from heaven for his arrogance, is a character that Gaiman carefully developed. And in fact, his participation in the graphic novel is of special interest. As much, as to later obtain his own collection of narratives on paper. And even a recently completed six-season television series starring Tom Ellis.
In the Netflix adaptation of Sandman, the dark figure of Lucifer also has a particular size. Casting the actor — or in this case, the actress — was a decision that was made with painstaking care. After some debate, Gaiman dropped the idea of including Tom Ellis. That, for the benefit of delving into the androgynous, imposing and formidable nature of the infernal Sovereign, as conceived by the writer. The selection then fell to Gwendoline Christie, known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones.
Choosing Christie surprised and in some cases irritated the large group of comics fans. However, Gaiman defended his decision in his official social networks and made it clear that the actress was “her version” of Lucifer.
In the Netflix series, Christie’s Lucifer is a powerful presence that is striking in its similarity to the cartoons. In fact, one of the central sequences of the chapter “A hope in hell” is practically identical to the source material. Merit that can be attributed to the performance of the actress.
The creature that embodies the nightmare created by Morpheus in the comic comes to the Netflix series in the skin of Boyd Holbrook. A difficult casting choice. On the one hand, he supposed to combine the possible physical resemblance of the actor with the character, and at the same time his sinister morality. Sadistic, narcissistic, and a ruthless killer, Corintio is one of the central figures in Gaiman’s comic.. At the same time, it is a disturbing reflection on the sinister possibilities of the Kingdom of Dreams. As if all of the above were not enough, one of the drawbacks for the interpreter who was chosen for the role would be that he would not be able to show his eyes. Or do it rarely.
The reason? Corinthian has jaws instead of eyelids. An eerie singularity that hides most of the time. This is a challenge for any actor because he would not be able to use his gaze in many of the scenes. Even more difficult in a plot in which the character would face Morpheus on more than one occasion.
Holbrook commented to Screenrant who had long conversations with screenwriter Allan Heinberg and writer Neil Gaiman about it. With the help of both he was able to better understand the role and delve into its peculiarities. In the end, he understood that Corinth was a set of sinister features that he could develop despite his covered eyes.
In Sandman, the result is impeccable. The performer puts on a memorable performance, encompassing the finer points of an ambiguous and cruel creature, with a mysterious purpose. At the same time, he is an enemy to be feared as he lives up to Tom Sturridge’s inspired performance.
One of the questions from fans of Sandman it was the way in which the plot of the series would delve into this singular character. Gilbert/Fiddler’s Green is not a man, but a place in the Realm of Dreams. The eventuality meant choosing an actor capable of embracing the subtlety of a larger purpose. And the answer was performer and writer Stephen Fry.
It was about other of the elections that Gaiman had to actively defend in social networks. That, despite Fry’s obvious physical resemblance to the paper version of him. Several fans feared that the well-known stage actor’s performance might be unsubtle compared to Gilbert’s shy and straightforward nature. But the actor made the decision to listen to the criticism of the readers and incorporate some of his own regarding the unique figure.
As the artist told Slashfilm, he imagined Gilbert as the most leafy and beloved place in the Kingdom of Dreams, as a hope. And for the anthropomorphic version of him, he was inspired by the writer, philosopher and theologian GK Chesterton. The result is a combination of kindness, knowledge and sensitivity. All elements that define the original in Gaiman’s work.
The youngest of The Eternals and the most complicated member of the Celestial family arrives on television with a surprisingly similar version of the role. After months of searching, Gaiman found the perfect actor for his character in Mason Alexander Park, non-binary interpreter. The decision coincides with the writer’s perception of one of the most unclassifiable figures in his history. Androgynous, beautiful and cruel, it is a mysterious point in the plot. And as if that weren’t enough, he celebrates the very essence of embodying what the heart yearns for.
For Park it is a challenge that fulfills one of his most cherished dreams. As a fan of Gaiman’s work, playing a character he can relate to, even in his gender expression, is amazing. The artist explained to den of geek who, in many ways, understands Desire deeply.
“Desire appeals to me deeply as an actor, a fan of this world and of Neil Gaiman,” Park explained. “It’s really difficult to reflect on the concept of desire and how it manifests itself in a million different ways. Both positive and negative, sexual and emotional. Being able to see the character choices and the relationship with Dream through that lens is a beautiful road map. One that delves into the behavior of him, which definitely needs explaining sometimes.”
The choice, praised by the Queer community, is also a favorite of Neil Gaiman. “I love this”, he wrote on his official Twitter account.