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Why The Sandman Casting Was Nothing Like Neil Gaiman Expected

To countless fans, Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" is one of the comic book medium's most revered and acclaimed works. There's honestly nothing like the epic series, which originally came from DC Comics, and much of that is due to its premise. It centers on an entity that is the living embodiment of all dreams and his immortal family called the Endless. The main character is known as Dream, although he goes by many other names, such as Morpheus. His tale in the original comic book story revolves around his escape from being imprisoned for 70 years and returning during modern times.

Fans will finally get the chance to see "The Sandman" make the leap to TV with the upcoming Netflix adaptation. Gaiman has been tightly involved with the show during its development, especially with the casting decisions. In fact, the creator had a hand in picking British actor Tom Sturridge to take up the lead role of Dream. And while Gaiman has stated how pleased he is with the decision, the author noted the casting experience for the part didn't turn out as he thought it would.

Gaiman still looked at thousands of others after Tom Sturridge's audition

Due to its previously long status in development hell, the fact that "The Sandman" is premiering at all is a pleasant surprise. But perhaps that air of the unexpected surrounding the project somehow rubbed off during the casting for its lead, Dream. As Neil Gaiman noted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the audition process did not go as expected on quite a few levels. First, as he told the publication, Tom Sturridge was one of the first 10 people to audition for the part, and it was shocking that Gaiman felt he found the perfect candidate so fast. But one thing did go as planned, as Gaiman knew that he'd have to view more auditions before settling on Sturridge. He just didn't expect such a vast number.

As Gaiman continued in the interview, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, "The Sandman" creator had to watch over 1,500 Dream auditions. However, there were a couple of silver linings from the entire ordeal. Notably, the other auditions did little to deter Gaiman's choice of Sturridge. "...But what was actually great was having watched all of those, we were able to go to Netflix and say, it's Tom. We know it's Tom," Gaiman told EW. In addition, he admitted that while the other auditionees pushed forward, Warner Bros. paid Sturridge not to take on any other acting gigs.

The casting for Sandman has gone through some other twists

Neil Gaiman's story of how Tom Sturridge ultimately got the part seems to contribute to how most of the casting for "The Sandman" took a few surprising twists and turns. Despite some fans initially expecting Tom Ellis to reprise his role as Lucifer because of his take on the Dark Lord in the titular Fox TV series, Gaiman felt Ellis' version of the character was too far from his comic version. So, Gwendoline Christie got the part because the author thought she was more in line with the comic source. Based on some of the trailers, Christie's more regal version does appear closer to its comic origins.

The same could be said for the part of Death, who appears to give off the necessary big sister vibe to her sibling Morpheus. Gaiman told IGN that actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste got the role as he genuinely felt she embodied the character's soul in her audition. However, he was surprised that, as a result, the series has a British Death, as the actor is British. "And I was surprised because I had imagined that we'd have at least an American, or an American accent, on our Death," Gaiman said to IGN. "Was not expecting a British Death."