Neil Gaiman didn’t have to do it. He could have left it alone. After successfully shutting down every “bad” attempt to adapt his best-selling Vertigo graphic novel series “The Sandman” for 30 years, Gaiman could have decided to let the dream of adapting “The Sandman” die with the greatest of dreams. Current Endeavor: A feature film starring and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Warner Bros.’ New Line, which split in 2016.
“The Sandman” live-action TV series produced by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, which was ordered to series on Netflix in June 2019, finally began on Friday. So why did Gaiman try again?
“In many ways, that’s the only question we can ask,” said Gaiman, an executive producer and writer on the series along with David Goyer and showrunner Alan Heinberg (“Grey’s Anatomy”). “And surprisingly, when Alan and David Goyer and I sat down to dinner together, essentially the night before we were going to pitch it to Netflix and the world, that was our question. Why should we do this? And why should we do this now? Especially my For, after three decades of trying to prevent bad ‘Sandman’ adaptations from happening. By hook or by crook, fair way or foul, I’ve blocked and shut down a lot of bad ‘Sandman’ movies. For the Jon Peters version of ‘Sandman’ go to the script description and Google the Ain’ t Describe It Cool News [developed in 1996], in which, on page five, Morpheus tells the police who come to arrest him, ‘Your weapon may hurt me, mighty lord of dreams, Sandman.’ And it gets worse from there. “
In his lengthy analysis of why he decided to resurrect the idea with Netflix’s 10-episode first season of “The Sandman,” which follows his first two (of 10) graphic novels about the adventures of Dream (Tom Sturridge) aka Morpheus . Aka The Sandman, Gaiman — author of other beloved titles like “American Gods” and “Good Omens,” which have also been adapted for Starz and Amazon, respectively — offered a profound three-fold answer, which we’ve covered in full. Here:
For me, in part I was going, it would be. There will be a “Sandman” adaptation. If you look at the spine of the giant Taschen history of the DC Comics book, it weighs about 15 pounds, and on the sides are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Morpheus, the Sandman, and their faces are staring back at you. And everyone knew it was a crown jewel that wasn’t customized. And 30 years later,
“Sandman,” at this point, is probably the single best-selling series of graphic novels published in America that you know it’s going to be. So in part, it’s accepting, well, if it’s going to happen, why not make it better?
“Sandman” as a graphic novel series, as comics, I was trying to tell the world what I believed. They were about inclusiveness. They were matters of humanity. There were things of common humanity. There were stories about dreams and death. There were words of comfort and there were words of warning. And then when I told them, they were important and I felt they were true and I felt it was right to say them. Plus, you have your story and your story matters, and plus, you’ll get a lifetime. And those are the things I mean. And I don’t think any of those things are any less important or any less relevant now. And really, I feel in this kind of strange world in which sometimes I think people are fragmenting and forming into smaller and smaller groups and closing ranks and seeing someone on the other side as an enemy, that people need to be reminded to stand up. Beside them is someone who has a thousand worlds and each world is a door and through each door is a place you have never imagined. And the people beneath the surface are cooler than you’d ever imagine. And I want to remind people of that.
And then the third thing, which was, by making a “good sign,” I thought I knew how to do it. When “American Gods” was being made, I was an executive producer, which meant I had to give notes — which were ignored. But that was okay. I was part of the story. After making “Good Omens”, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t be a jerk anymore. I actually made it, I did it. So when I say to people, “Can we do this?” And they’ll go, “No, we can’t do that. It’ll cost too much money.” I’d be like, “No, no, no. I made it. I really knew we needed a wall for that to happen. So the knowledge that I had the skill set to guide this thing and work with it, and I wouldn’t be scared, but I I loved doing it, it was another part for me.
Towards the end of Gaiman’s decades-long battle against bad adaptations of “The Sandman”, “Batman Begins” and “Foundation”, writer Goyer was willing to try what he (and fans) hoped would be a bad version of Gaiman. the eyes To minimize the risk, Goyer insisted to Warner Bros. that Gaiman be an active producer and co-writer on the pilot.
Sources say that Goyer was also adamant that “The Sandman” should not be “dumbed-down” and kept “weird,” and that any attempt to make it “formulaic” was rejected by Goyer and Gaiman. Finally, in June 2019, Goyer and Gaiman’s dream came true and Warner Bros. began looking for a showrunner to oversee the day-to-day organization and execution of the TV series adaptation of “The Sandman.” Enter Shondaland alum Heinberg.
“It was a very strange situation. Timing was everything with it,” Heinberg said. “My three-year contract with ABC Studios was up at the time I was meeting with Warner Bros. about possibly doing something with them. And every time I met them for the last 25 years, I always asked, ‘When are you doing “The Sandman”?’ And at that moment they said, ‘We’re actually going to take it to streamers with Neil. David. Do you know David Goyer?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’ve known David Goyer for years. Did David write this?’ And they said, ‘No, David’s executive producing, but he’s doing ‘Foundation.’ We are actually looking for a writer.’ We all looked at each other and Susan Rovner said, ‘Let me get back to you.’ And when I got in my car, David Goyer was calling me on my cell phone, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And I was like, ‘Listen, if you and Neil already have plans and you don’t want me to do it…’ and David said, ‘Fuck you, you’re doing it. I’m calling Neil.’ And so it happened.”
But Heinberg wasn’t really on board right away because, as he put it, he “didn’t want to be the guy who ruined Sandman.”
“[I told Goyer,] ‘If Neil wants to do a panel-by-panel version of it, I don’t know how. I’ve been working with Shonda Rhimes for 15 years. I write a drama about relationships. It needs some adaptation,’ said Heinberg. “And David said, ‘Yes, and so we need it you. And Neil knows it. And you’ll see the guys talking. And sure enough, in that first meeting, Neil brought up the big problem, which was, ‘Well, our lead is naked and silent and caged for the entire pilot. What are we going to do to make the audience fall in love with him?’ And I was like, ‘Okay, he got it. There is a big problem here and he wants to solve it already at our first dinner.’ And then 24 hours later, we were pitching it to streamers. “
Pause, because Gaiman has an interjection here that industry folks will find amusing: “Actually, because you Variety, I’m going to put a footnote here: Alan tells people, and I tell people, because it’s so easy to say, ‘And 24 hours later, we were pitching.’ That is not true. Friday night was dinner. And the pitch was Monday morning. However, on that Saturday and then on Sunday, the impossible happened, which was Alan’s deal [with Warner Bros.] was written and agreed upon and signed. Just because you are Variety, only because I understand that Hollywood’s real art form of contract, I want to tell you that is impossible. The contract was signed before Allen arrived at the meeting Monday morning.
After “the power of Neil Gaiman pushing it,” according to Heinberg, it was time to pitch. And the winning bidder, according to sources at the very expensive auction, was Netflix — a streamer full of “The Sandman” fans willing to take on the challenge of becoming the home of the long-awaited, actually-good “The Sandman.” Sandman” adaptation.
“It came from Warner Bros. and DC several years ago. I was running the genre team at the time,” said Peter Friedlander, head of scripted series in the US and Canada. “And Channing Dungey [now CEO of Warner Bros. TV Studios] He was supervising the drama team here. And I distinctly remember when we got the call about ‘Sandman’ and there were other people on my team who were superfans of the IP and had posters on their walls of characters like Death. So when the call came, it was real excitement, people jumped at the opportunity. We actually went to Warners to hear a presentation from Neil Gaiman and David Goyer and Alan Heinberg and the whole team there. And it was a very special presentation. I think we all know that this is something that we would be thrilled for Netflix. And you’ve heard about various adaptations over the years, ‘Will it get made, won’t it?’ And it felt like the time was finally right. The way they wanted to tell the story, I really think the technology was at a place where they could really use visual effects to tell the story they wanted through the medium. The stars had finally aligned to bring ‘Sandman’ to the fans in this way.
What followed was three years of writing, casting, filming and editing the massive series, in which Sturridge starred Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew the Raven, Vivian Achampong as Lucien. , Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, David Thewlis as John Dee, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Dream’s sister Death and Mason Alexander Park as Death’s brother Desire and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead. If you know you know – and if you don’t, don’t worry, because “The Sandman” team is very excited to introduce you to these characters and the world created by Gaiman, staying true to the original identity of the comics. .
(Pictured above: Tom Sturridge as Dream and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in Netflix’s “The Sandman.”)