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A year and a half after being picked up to series, Netflix has revealed the cast for its big-budget adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved Sandman.
Tom Sturridge will topline the drama based on Gaiman’s DC Comics series, playing Dream, the lord of the dreaming. Gwendoline Christie co-stars as Lucifer, ruler of hell. Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, Asim Chaudhry and Sanjeev Bhaskar round out the dark fantasy drama.
Here’s how Netflix describes its live-action Sandman: “A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the dream king, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.”
Sturridge (Starz’s Sweetbitter) takes on a role that was briefly attached to Joseph Gordon-Levitt when Sandman was being developed as a feature film for New Line in early 2016. With Christie and Dance, Sandman is also staging a mini-Game of Thrones reunion for the duo. Dance will portray Roderick Burgess, a charlatan, blackmailer and magician.
Acheampong (The Witches) plays Lucienne, the chief librarian and trusted guardian of Dream’s realm. Holbrook (Narcos) is set as The Corinthian, an escaped nightmare who wishes to taste all that the world has in store. Chaudhry (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) and Bhaskar (Yesterday) take on the roles of Abel and Cain, the first victim and the first predator, who are residents and loyal subjects of the Dream Realm.
Gaiman (American Gods) and Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, Grey’s Anatomy) are co-writing the series, with the latter on board as showrunner. David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Foundation) exec produces the drama from Warner Bros. Television.
“For the last 33 years, the Sandman characters have breathed and walked around and talked in my head,” Gaiman said. “I’m unbelievably happy that now, finally, they get to step out of my head and into reality. I can’t wait until the people out there get to see what we’ve been seeing as Dream and the rest of them take flesh, and the flesh belongs to some of the finest actors out there. This is astonishing, and I’m so grateful to the actors and to all of The Sandman collaborators — Netflix, Warner Bros., DC, to Allan Heinberg and David Goyer, and the legions of crafters and geniuses on the show — for making the wildest of all my dreams into reality.”
Sandman landed at Netflix in June 2019 with an 11-episode order for what sources at the time told The Hollywood Reporter was a massive financial commitment. The pact at the time, per sources, was the most expensive TV series that DC Entertainment has ever done. Three months later, super-producer Greg Berlanti announced that his Green Lantern TV series for HBO Max “promises to be our biggest DC show ever made.”
Sources say Warners, which controls the IP, took the Sandman TV pitch to multiple outlets, including corporate sibling HBO. The premium cable network did not make a play for the series, given the massive price tag attached (and likely a number of other big-world shows in the works), and Netflix snapped it up as the streamer continues to make an active play for massive IP that could be turned into subscriber-friendly franchises a la Amazon’s Lord of the Rings and HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Gaiman’s beloved comic has had a long and challenged road to the screen. Attempts to turn Sandman into a feature film franchise started in the 1990s with Warner Bros. — the parent company of Vertigo, the former imprint of DC Comics. The project went through multiple incarnations and writers in the 1990s and early 2000s and eventually toiled away in development purgatory. Gaiman announced in late 2013 that he was teaming with Gordon-Levitt for a feature film that wound up being set up at Warner Bros.-owned New Line. Gordon-Levitt was set to star and direct before bailing on the film following creative differences with the studio in March 2016. Eric Heisserer, the last screenwriter attached to New Line’s Sandman, said in November 2016 that he was no longer involved.
Sturridge is repped by WME. Christie (Star Wars) is with WME, Independent Talent Group, Untitled and Jackoway Austen. Dance is with Tavistock Wood Management. Holbrook is with CAA, Range Media and Morris Yorn. Acheampong and Chaudhry are with Curtis Brown Group and Goodman Genow. Bhaskar is with United Agents.
A premiere date for Sandman has not yet been determined.
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