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The Sandman Release Date, Cast, Plot, And Trailer - What We Know So Far

Ever since its release back in 1989, Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" has been revered as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time and is still considered by many to be Gaiman's magnum opus. The initial run of the award-winning series was critically acclaimed for its mature fantasy themes, exceptional world-building, and the excellent authorship of Gaiman himself. As such it was really only a matter of time before we'd be getting a live-action adaptation of the series — though admittedly, it's taken longer than most would have expected.

A live-action adaptation of "The Sandman" had been stewing in development hell since the late '90s before it was picked up for development in 2019 by the streaming giant Netflix (via The Hollywood Reporter). After all this time, it appears like Gaiman's seminal graphic novel will finally make its way onto the silver screen, and while this is far from Gaiman's only foray into live-action, this particular project may just be his most important one yet. Here's everything we know thus far about Netflix's upcoming series, "The Sandman."

The Sandman is set to release in August 2022

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix's "The Sandman" is set to premiere on August 5, 2022. Considering the fact that the author himself once claimed to have spent 30 years battling against bad adaptations, the fact that this series is so close to release is incredibly encouraging. The series originally entered post-production on July 23, 2021, and (inexplicably) entered post-production again on April 17, 2022. It's unclear exactly why there are currently two separate dates listed in relation to post-production for the series, though one has to hope that the former is more accurate than the latter.

Per Adobe, the average time it takes for a feature-length film to go from raw footage to the final product is around six months to a year. This includes editing, sound mixing, color correction, visual effects, and a host of other processes that need to be completed prior to the project's release. Considering the fact that the total runtime of Netflix's "The Sandman" will undoubtedly be much longer than the average film, one has to wonder how long the post-production on this series has actually taken, and (if they did indeed begin post-production again in April) whether or not the series' post-production will be completed in time for the August premiere. In any case, one has to hope the series will still manage to release on August 5 without any issues.

Who is in the cast of The Sandman?

First and foremost amongst the cast is Tom Sturridge, who plays Dream, also known as Morpheus or The Sandman. Being one of the seven Endless (beings who exceed the gods themselves in terms of power), Dream is an immensely powerful character who rules over a kingdom known as the Dreaming. Though Sturridge will serve as the lead of the series, he is far from the most well-known actor within the massive ensemble cast of "The Sandman." Some of the prominent roles in the series belong to Kirby Howell-Baptiste (who plays Death in the series and is most well known for her roles in "Killing Eve" and "The Good Place") as well as Jenna Coleman, who will play Johanna Constantine, the great-great-great-grandmother of John Constantine (via Netflix).

The series will reunite "Game of Thrones" alumni Charles Dance and Gwendoline Christie (who play occultist Roderick Burgess and Lucifer Morningstar, respectively) and will also feature the legendary Mark Hamill as the voice of Mervyn Pumpkinhead. Other notable actors within the series include David Thewlis, Vivienne Acheampong, Boyd Holbrook, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Asim Chaudhry, Donna Preston, Mason Alexander Park, Niamh Walsh, Joely Richardson, Razane Jammal, Sandra James Young, Kyo Ra, Stephen Fry, and Patton Oswalt. All told, the cast of "The Sandman" is filled from top to bottom with some of the most talented and well-known actors out there, and fans ought to be overjoyed to hear that these beloved characters are in such experienced hands.

What is the plot of The Sandman?

As of right now, one has to assume that the plot of Netflix's "The Sandman" will follow the plot of Neil Gaiman's original graphic novel. At the beginning of the story, Dream (who, as previously mentioned, is one of seven incredibly powerful beings known as the Endless) is captured by an occultist named Roderick Burgess (Dance) and is held captive for over 70 years. Dream's lengthy absence wreaks havoc across the universe as a whole, and when he finally escapes, he is forced to set out on a lengthy journey to restore order and fix his past mistakes.

The description of the official date announcement trailer for "The Sandman" essentially states that the series will follow much of the same story as the graphic novel, though in this case, Dream is held captive for a full century. In addition, Gaiman himself has clarified that the first 10 episodes of the series will cover the first two volumes of the comic: "Preludes and Nocturnes," and "The Doll's House" (via Collider). Outside of these clarifications, details about the series itself remain sparse, though the recently released trailer actually gives us a few pretty significant clues about what to expect in Netflix's "The Sandman."

The trailer for The Sandman actually reveals a lot of story

The aforementioned date announcement trailer for "The Sandman" focuses heavily on Dream and his kingdom of the Dreaming, From what we see in the trailer, it seems like Dream is released from his occult prison when two police officers shoot at him and shatter the glass walls that surround him.

From there, we watch him return to his kingdom, and discover that the Dreaming has turned into a decayed ruin in his absence. We get a brief glimpse of Death (Howell-Baptiste), Dream's loyal sister, as well as the villainous John Dee (Thewlis), the latter of whom is holding a ruby that fans will recognize as very important to the plot of the original comic. Finally, we get a brief but chilling scene of a man with bleeding eyes, who may be The Corinthian (Holbrook), a malevolent nightmare who escaped the Dreaming during his masters' absence.

Despite the fact that this first trailer is (in many ways) still just a teaser for what's to come, we are still able to extract a surprising amount of story from it. In any case, the trailer is certain to get plenty of fans excited for the upcoming series, especially since it's taken so long to see this project actually completed.

Patton Oswalt was the first person cast

The star-studded "Sandman" cast list could even rival Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" in terms of sheer celebrity wattage. However, it took some time before the names involved in the project were revealed to the world. When they were, they arrived in a gigantic batch that had the internet chattering — for better or worse.

Neil Gaiman wrote the casting announcements, as well as a brief description of the characters and why the chosen actors were right for the roles. Introducing Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven, Gaiman disclosed an interesting detail about the actor's casting, explaining how "The Sandman" team searched for someone who possessed the voice acting abilities to make the audience invested in such a peculiar character and a person who was also a fan of the comic book series. "Patton was the first person we asked, and the first person we cast," said Gaiman. "The day before we pitched 'The Sandman' to Netflix."

Why Lucifer is different from the Netflix series

Considering "The Sandman" and "Lucifer" are both Netflix properties and based on the same character, many fans presumed that Tom Ellis would play the devilishly dapper Lord of Hell in Dream's story. However, when the casting news dropped, it was revealed that "Game of Thrones" actor Gwendoline Christie had been cast as Lucifer instead. Many people didn't understand why Ellis didn't get the role since he was exceptionally popular as Mr. Morningstar and had an established fanbase.

Answering fan questions on Tumblr, Neil Gaiman addressed the reason for Ellis' absence from the series. "The theology and cosmogony of 'Lucifer' is a long way from 'Sandman's,'" he replied. "It's inspired by 'Sandman,' but you can't easily retrofit the 'Lucifer' version to get back to 'Sandman,' if you see what I mean. It seemed easier and more fun to have the 'Sandman' version of Lucifer be, well, much closer to the 'Sandman' version of Lucifer."

Gaiman once again discussed the issue on his Twitter account, explaining how Ellis' version of the character was too different by the end of the show and far more lovable than "The Sandman" iteration. In other words, Christie's Lucifer isn't meant to be very nice or affable.

The explanation behind Johanna Constantine's inclusion

Those who've read "The Sandman" know it plays an important role in the overall DC Universe. It isn't uncommon to see Dream and the others interacting with characters such as Batman or John Constantine. Taking into account how important Constantine is to "The Sandman" lore, many expected to see the character appearing in the series — perhaps even with Matt Ryan reprising his role as the chain-smoking Hellblazer. However, when the cast was announced, Jenna Coleman was revealed to be portraying Johanna Constantine — with no mention of John in sight.

The rowdy part of the internet got into a tangle, believing that the character had been gender swapped for "The Sandman." However, that simply isn't true. Johanna was actually a character created by Neil Gaiman (via The Sandman Fandom) as a tribute and included in the original "Sandman" comics. She is an ancestor of John and has her own intriguing backstory. In all likelihood, Netflix also probably wasn't able to secure the rights to use John Constantine in this series, since the character is tied up in other DC projects in various stages of production.

The first season will have 10 episodes

With the original "Sandman" comic book run lasting for 75 issues, there's more than enough material to be adapted for the show. The comic has also been revived under the DC Black Label since 2020 and there are — pardon the pun — endless tangents and story threads that can be followed. The first season of "The Sandman" looks to be drawing most of its influence from the "Preludes and Nocturnes" volume, which collected the first eight issues of the comic book series and served as an introduction to the mythology.

Through a press release (via The Futon Critic), Netflix revealed that the first season of "The Sandman" will consist of 10 episodes. Undoubtedly, this allows for the first volume to be adapted in full, but since this is an adaptation and not a beat-by-beat recreation of the comics, it's likely that the show will jump around and borrow from other elements too.

Tom Sturridge's Dream won't be whispery

Since there have been no live-action adaptations of "The Sandman," Tom Sturridge had a blank slate to play and experiment with. Sure, there are the audiobooks that feature Dream's voice courtesy of James McAvoy, but Sturridge was still free to try and find his own interpretation of the character. He revealed to Entertainment Weekly that he tried something specific on his first day on set, but Neil Gaiman quickly jumped in and told him to stop doing it. Considering that Gaiman wrote the character, he's probably the best person to listen to and ask about all things related to "The Sandman" and Morpheus' voice.

"I growled at him once and said 'Stop being Batman,'" Gaiman said, which brought about laughter from Sturridge. "Because he was trying to get a bit whispery. Right at the very beginning." Well, that certainly would have put Christian Bale out of contention to be cast as Morpheus here. 

Desire's casting happened because of Twitter

Before Desire was even cast, there had been many suggestions about who could play Dream's rebellious sibling onscreen. Many fans drew up their dream lists of potential actors for this pivotal part, and some performers decided to shoot their shots and put their names forward as well. While Twitter might be a platform that's notorious for feeding the outrage machine and people arguing with strangers about fictional characters, it also has the ability to open doors and connect people in positive ways. Just ask Mason Alexander Park.

As revealed by Neil Gaiman in the cast announcements for "The Sandman," Park reached out through the bird app in the early stages of the casting process. They certainly must have impressed Gaiman and the casting agents, since Park got the part. Park's success is a wonderful reminder that social media doesn't need to be dreadful or antagonistic all the time; it's all about how we use it.

The casting process was long and tedious

"The Sandman" has been a long time in the making. Much like its characters, it has gone through various shapes and forms before finally settling on a Netflix series. As soon as the decision was made on what it would be, the casting process for the show became one of the most important parts of the production process. However, this wasn't a cut-and-dry case of approaching the big-name actors they had in mind and auditioning for the rest. Boyd Holbrook revealed to Collider that he had to go through a lengthy auditioning process to secure the role of the Corinthian.

"I read the script and they were really adamant about everyone auditioning, so I went in," he said, explaining how his first audition was in early 2020. "And then I didn't hear anything until probably like September or something like that. Anyways it was a long process, and the conversation just started and they wanted to tape again and they wanted me to meet with Neil which I was really interested in doing and talking about just how the show was going to be done."

Tom Sturridge had two main contenders to beat

Boyd Holbrook wasn't the only one who had to endure auditioning process — Tom Sturridge is another cast member who didn't walk into the room and get offered the role on the spot. While Sturridge might have an impressive list of credits, having appeared in "The Hollow Crown," "Sweetbitter," and "Mary Shelley," he still went down a long, hard road to being cast in "The Sandman."

While many actors coveted the role of Dream, there were two legitimate contenders that Sturridge had to battle for the part. According to Collider, "Poldark" and "American Gods" actor Tom York and Colin Morgan, who appeared in "Merlin" and "Belfast," were tested for the role and under serious consideration. Since York had worked on a previous Neil Gaiman adaptation ("American Gods"), his fellow candidates for the part of Dream must have been sweating that he'd be the frontrunner. Fortunately for Sturridge, he impressed the right people and got the role in the end.

Episode 6 will be a tearjerker

While "The Sandman" is positioned as a dark fantasy series, it does feature many thought-provoking themes, especially about the meaning of life and death. Anyone who has read the comics can attest to this. For example: In "The Sandman" #8 by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Robbie Busch, and Todd Klein, Dream and his sister Death have a discussion about why humans fear death more than they do dreams since it's merely just a part of life. It's a heart-wrenching conversation as it makes the reader question many aspects of their own life.

During a tour to discuss his career (via The Mary Sue), Gaiman revealed to the audience that Episode 6 of "The Sandman" made him cry. He explained that even though he had written the scene and knew what was going to happen, it hit him hard when he saw it replayed in live action. Perhaps Dream and Death will dive deeper into the themes that will have us all experiencing an existential crisis after watching the show.

Netflix encouraged more auditions

The 2020 pandemic was a strange time. Not only was there uncertainty around everything happening in the world, but it also afforded millions of people more time at home. Some decided to bake banana bread and experiment on TikTok, while others developed an unhealthy obsession with Netflix's "Tiger King" series. Again, no judgement; it was a weird time for all of us.

The production of "The Sandman" was also impacted by the pandemic. Due to the travel bans and restrictions on in-person interactions, it pushed out the previous timelines and had everyone wondering what would happen next. Neil Gaiman revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Warner Bros. actually paid Tom Sturridge to not take another role and be on standby, even though it wasn't certain he would be cast as Dream. On the other hand, Netflix decided to make use of the extra time and encouraged the casting team to look at every single audition received. Gaiman explained that he must have looked at over 1,500 auditions for Dream before the decision to cast Sturridge was finally made.