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Gaiman joined the Netflix series’ cast, including Tom Sturridge, Gwendoline Christie, Jenna Coleman and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, for a Hall H panel Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con. The team debuted a number of clips and the full trailer, which is below.
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The event was the culmination of the comic book, first published in 1989 before getting stuck in a lengthy adaptation process, ultimately landing at Netflix in the summer of 2019. “What I’m really excited is that in less than two weeks, everyone is going to get to see what we made,” Gaiman told the crowd. “It feels really good.”
Showrunner Allan Heinberg said his plan was to remain “as faithful to the book as possible” and added, “Netflix has been incredibly supportive of that mission.”
The story centers on Dream breaking free from imprisonment and aiming to bring stability to his world. The show’s team recounted the lengthy casting process, including landing Sturridge in the lead role.
Gaiman recalled Sturridge auditioning for Dream in the early going, but that the team saw many more actors after that. “By the end of the process, we’d see about a thousand auditions,” Gaiman said. “And it was still Tom.”
Sturridge praised the show for featuring an entirely different world in each episode and recalled being a fan of the source material. “I cared so deeply about this piece of literature,” he shared. “I just spent months reading it over and over again until it was in my bones and in my blood.”
He continued, “The key of our story is, Dream goes on a journey, and he goes on to become someone who he isn’t in the beginning.”
For the role of Lucifer, Gaiman recalled his initial concept of the character drawing inspiration from a David Bowie-type figure that Gaiman saw as a “junkie angel.” He quipped about Christie playing Lucifer, “Gwendoline brings the junkie angel in spades.”
For her part, Christie continued to riff on this: “I’m a one-stop shop for junkie angel.” She went on to say, “I really was so delighted when Allan and Neil came to me about being in Sandman.”
The actress also said she relished playing such a nefarious role. “The idea of being the very essence of evil through these people’s eyes was the most delightful moment I could wish for,” she said.
Two voice performers on the series are Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead. Oswalt, who is a lifelong fan of the comics, said his character provides comic relief and that it was a unique challenge to play a role that doesn’t appear in the original books.
“I’m playing a character that is completely new to this world,” Oswalt said. “He is running to catch up to this massive world that he’s been thrown into.”
Howell-Baptiste, who plays Dream’s sister Death, said she spent a lot of time contemplating the notion of bringing Death to life. “How do you give a human form to a concept, to death?” she asked. The actress said she spent time figuring out how to make her character feel comfortable to be around.
“I had a personal loss that I think I was able to work through in playing Death,” she added.
For Gaiman, he said he has managed to stay focused on bringing the show to the screen because of the respect that others continued to have for the material: “No one has wanted to change what I did.”
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