In another timeline, perhaps, Michael Jackson could have played Morpheus, aka the Lord of Dreams and title character of “The Sandman,” creator Neil Gaiman revealed.
It’s long been known that an on-screen adaptation of the beloved comic book series has been in the works in various stages for years, including a film version announced in 2013 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to produce and later star. As it turns out, he wasn’t the only one interested in the role.
Amid the Netflix series’ three-decade-long journey to get made, Gaiman said in a recent appearance on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast that top brass at Warner Bros. told him of the King of Pop’s interest in the part.
“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,'” the executive producer said. “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-um.'”
The writer, who is also behind “Coraline” and “American Gods,” also said he naively thought the project, a huge hit in the ’90s and beyond, would be simple to cast. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be so easy to cast! We just find, you know, an English-speaking actor with great cheekbones, there’s loads of them out there,'” he explained. “We saw, in the end, about 1500 Morpheus auditions.”
“The Sandman,” which premiered on Netflix Aug. 5, stars Tom Sturridge as the powerful cosmic being who controls all our dreams and who must journey across different worlds and timelines to restore peace after spending a century imprisoned. Its showrunner and writer is Allan Heinberg.
Upon its debut, “The Sandman” hit No. 1 on the Netflix Top 10 with 69.5 million hours viewed and has yet to relinquish its top spot to other English series.