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Five Actors Who Should Be Cast in Netflix' Sandman Series

Neil Gaiman's Sandman is finally being adapted as a TV show for Netflix.

No pressure on getting the casting right, Netflix. It's only one of the most beloved comic book properties of the last thirty years and has already accumulated a litany of failed attempts to bring it to the screen.

No pressure at all.

On the off chance that you've been living in a yurt and hadn't heard, Netflix has announced a direct to series order for 11 episodes of The Sandman, a TV show based on Neil Gaiman's beloved comic which ran for 75 issues between 1989 to 1996.

The show is being executive produced by Neil Gaiman and David Goyer, with Allan Heinberg serving as showrunner. Heinberg co-wrote the Wonder Woman film, so that feels generally like a positive thing. Time will tell.

One of the important factors in the show's prospects for success will of course be who they cast in it. Now, before we move forward with this thought let's just remind ourselves that this is a live action interpretation of a comic book property, so absolutely anyone they cast in any role is going to result in the same response. 15% of fans will be excited by the casting, 23% will be cautiously optimistic, 9% will have never heard of the actor in question, 17% will make social media posts along the lines of, 'Well, I thought Heath Ledger was a bad choice for the Joker, so we'll see', and the remaining 36% will immediately begin posting hot take videos on Youtube about how this is the worst choice ever, how Allan Heinberg has graphically violated their childhood, and somehow managing to work in a few comments about The Last Jedi for some reason.

A couple other things up front. First, I'm not going to make any comment on who should play Morpheus, the titular Sandman. I wholeheartedly believe that this role needs to go to someone unknown for a variety of reasons I won't go into here.

Secondly, while the title of the article says 'Five' actors, the keen eyed among you will spot that I'm actually going to list six. There are seven members of 'The Endless,' one of which is Dream a.k.a. Morpheus, who as I just mentioned, I am not including. I was intending to also leave Despair off of this list because I didn't have a good idea for her, but then I thought of one I really, really liked, and so here we are. What can I say, we'll all just have to learn to live with the cognitive dissonance.

And with that I present – the actors who should portray The Endless:


Julian Richings

So much the obvious choice that I initially resisted the idea. But dangit, he's the obvious choice for a reason.

Destiny is the oldest of The Endless, and let's be honest; he's also the boring one. Taking a part that reads as boring on the page and making them somehow riveting is precisely what Julian Richings is for. Whether it was Death in Supernatural, Iktomi in American Gods, or the ill fated Heinrich Von Fuchs in Doom Patrol, he has a gift for making enigmatic cypher characters somehow compelling and likeable. The more ill defined he is, the more he twinkles.


Tala Ashe

I'm expecting some pushback on this one, but I think she would be a great choice. Death, in the Sandman scheme of things, is a lot of things, but fundamentally what makes her work as a character is the balance between the frightening concept of what she is and the likeable everywoman quality that she consistently radiates. Death is by far the most likeable and relatable of The Endless while at the same time being maintaining a sense of being a complete mystery. I'm probably biased from Legends of Tomorrow, but I think Tala Ashe would knock that out of the park.


Jared Keeso

If you haven't watched or are unaware of the show Letterkenny, you should go track down and watch Letterkenny. Outside of currently having the exact perfect look for Destruction, Keeso constantly manages on that show to do a thing I can only describe as 'emoting manly non-vulnerability.' This results in an interesting character who's emotionally relatable and understandable, is largely defined by fist fighting and not verbalizing how he feels, and is somehow not toxic in his masculinity. Honestly, it's bizarre and I'm not sure how he does it. But it's perfect for Destruction.


Aneesh Sheth

For me, the breakout character of from the third season of Jessica Jones (which is absolutely worth your time) was Jessica's new assistant, Gillian, as played by Aneesh Sheth. She embodied something innately powerful and compelling in a character that didn't have a lot of that on the page. In the comics, Desire is both male and female, never being contented with having just one of anything. Sheth would absolutely bring that dangerous, powerful, compelling edge that Desire needs to have on screen. Also, this role absolutely needs to go to either a trans or genderfluid performer. It will be inexcusable if it doesn't. She's gorgeous and she has the chops to make Desire everything they need to be. Cast her already.


Gabourey Sidibe

I'm really excited by the thought of this one, and I want it to happen so, so very badly. The role of Despair is a hard one to pull off. Desire's twin Despair has to be somehow likeable and endearing despite being... you know.. the embodiment of despair. Sidibe has more than proved that she has the acting skill to pull that off. As a bonus, we'd get the indignation of the sort of people who complain that an anthropomorphic personification of despair has to be played by a white actress because that's how she happened to be drawn in the comics and it's just 'not logical' to have her played by an actress of color. And honestly, we should be offending those sort of people as often as we possibly can.

Camren Bicondova

We're all agreed that she was the standout on Gotham, right? Bicondova consistently found a way to express strength during moments of weakness and vulnerability during moments of strength in her portrayal of Selina. Delirium works as a character by being simultaneously completely vulnerable to everything due to her inability to mesh with the reality of what's happening around her and complete invulnerability due to being one of the fundamental forces of the universe. I would love to see what Bicondova would do with that brief.

And there you have it: my – pardon the expression – Dream Team.

This assumes of course that any of these characters are going to appear in this first series. There's a reasonable argument for assuming that they'll do Fables and Nocturnes as the first season, in which only Death shows up, and that's only in the afterword. Should that be the case, I can only beg the Powers That Be that they make an effort to get Matt Ryan as Constantine, Tom Ellis as Lucifer, David Harewood as Martian Manhunter and Jeremy Davies as Doctor Destiny, all of whom feature in that storyline. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Have different ideas, or visceral opposition to the choices above? Let me know below.


  1. I am totally unfamiliar with the comic book series. But I loved your last paragraph about Matt Ryan, Tom Ellis, David Harewood and Jeremy Davies.

  2. "36% will immediately begin posting hot take videos on Youtube about how this is the worst choice ever, how Allan Heinberg has graphically violated their childhood, and somehow managing to work in a few comments about The Last Jedi for some reason."

    LOL, you made my day Micky :). Too real for confort.

  3. Good article, but quick note: you mean Preludes and Nocturnes, the first Sandman story arc/trade paperback.

    You probably thought it was Fables from Fables and Reflections, the sixth trade paperback

  4. Also, even though I think he's fantastic in Lucifer, Tom Ellis just shouldn't replay the role on this show. His Lucifer is just too fundamentally different from the machiavellian magnificent bastard sociopath of the original comic book. They should cast a new actor/actress (the angels are technically sexless and androgynous, so I could always accept an androgynous looking woman playing the part, like Tilda Swinton as Gabriel in Constantine)

  5. D'oh! You're right of course. Preludes and Nocturnes. What an embarrassing mistake. In defense, I read all these issue by issue when they came out, so I never got around to buying the trades. It was years before I heard that they'd given the first storyline any name at all.

    I would totally be down with Tilda Swinton as Lucifer. I was kind of hoping though that they'd treat it as a Tom Ellis Lucifer prequel where we see why he left hell and how different he was prior to joining an LA based crime procedural.

    I actually rewatched the Keanustantine the other day, and found that it's not as bad as I remembered and actually has a lot to comment it. Possibly knowing Matt Ryan is out there made American Constantine less of a dealbreaker for me.

  6. You know who also would make a great Lucifer? Cillian Murphy. Watch Batman Begins and tell me he wouldn't make a suave androgynous sophisticated devil.

    Also, again, with due respect to the Lucifer TV show (which I enjoy a lot as its own standalone thing),I hope that if the Sandman show us successful Lucifer will get a proper spin-off. While not as good as the original Sandman, Mike Carey's Lucifer was a brilliant dark fantasy series with really thought provoking and daring takes on religion and philosophy, and I loved the characters so much (Gaudium, the foul mouthed fallen cherub and the half-angel Elaine were my favorites)

  7. This is a great time to celebrate that'd I was so far completely wrong on all guesses. With the exception of Desire going to a non binary performer.

    I suppose that's the best one to be right about


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