Neil Gaiman is revealing secrets behind the long process to adapt the “The Sandman” comics for Hollywood.
On a new episode of “Happy Sad Confused”, the creator sat down with Josh Horowitz to talk about his much-anticipated “Sandman” series for Netflix.
Gaiman created the comics in the late ’80s and ’90s where it became a cult classic with comic fans. Talks around adapting the series for a movie have also been around for just as long.
In fact, one attempted adaptation imagined Michael Jackson in the titular role.
Michael Jackson wanted to play Morpheus in THE SANDMAN. Yup, you read that right.
— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) August 26, 2022
“By 1996, I was being taken to Warners, where the then-president of Warner Bros. sat me down and told me that Michael Jackson had phoned him the day before and asked him if he could star as Morpheus in ‘The Sandman’,” Gaiman shared. “So, there was a lot of interest in this and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels and what did I think? And I was like, ‘Ooh.’”
Another name that was thrown in the casting hat was Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2016.
It wasn’t until Netflix’s “The Sandman” that the comics were finally adapted into a series with Tom Sturridge in the role of Morpheus. His audition was actually one of the first ones Gaiman saw with the team.
“I figured that, at the end of a couple of weeks, we’d have a shortlist of five or ten just as good as him, just as right as him, just as — you could say the lines as well as him — and we didn’t. At the end of a week, we had Tom. At the end of two weeks, we had Tom. At the end of a month, we had Tom,” he said. “At the end of six weeks, we said to Warner Bros: ‘It’s Tom, isn’t it?’”
Despite having their hearts set on Sturridge, Netflix encouraged them to see every audition as production halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We saw a lot of Morpheuses and what I learned from that is that his lines are really hard to say,” Gaiman said. “We saw some fabulous actors. It’s not like anybody was bad — there was a level, a bar, that they had to cross in order for us to be watching their video anyway — this was every great actor with great cheekbones on the planet, of all races, of all nationalities, of everything, and at the end it was still Tom.”
As for what sold the casting team on the actor’s performance, he said it had everything to do with his voice.
“Mostly I think it was the voice,” Gaiman shared. “There was something about the way he delivered the lines, the thoughtful way he delivered the lines, the way he’d find the poetry and the beauty and the tune of the lines. It was wonderful. It was right.”
“The Sandman” is available for streaming on Netflix now.