The Sandman, a beloved DC comic series that has been around for more than three decades, has finally been revived as a 10-episode drama for Netflix, directed by author Neil Gaiman, showrunner Allan Heinberg, and David. S. Goyer. Set in a world where the Master of Dreams, aka The Sandman (Tom Sturridge), must travel across different worlds and timelines in order to restore the order that he lost while being held captive for over a
Gaiman and Heinberg talked about the importance of making sure The Sandman was done correctly when it was finally produced, why it felt different this time, the responsibility of taking this project on as a showrunner, why it was important to have real tangible sets for the actors to work in, what they were most focused on bringing to life, the spinoffs they would want to see, and why they felt it was necessary to add an emotional gut punch that wasnt in the comics.
NEIL GAIMAN: Of all the junkets Ive done over the years, and I have done many of them, I think this one is the most enjoyable. Very often, you wind up enduring these things.
Collider: It must be even more nice when youve been waiting so long to see this actually modified in some form.
GAIMAN: It's nice that, mostly, I wasn't waiting, because I never felt like I'd rather see a Sandman than to see it done correctly. Howard: A New Breed of Hero just broke my heart. Im a huge supporter of the idea that if something bad gets made, then you just get something out. I could have been in my nineties, as long as it meant that we got the real Sandman made right and that it felt like Sandman.
From the start, did it feel different this time? Did it feel different the other times?
GAIMAN: Yes, because every other time, I was the person who wrote the comics, but that was my job. This was the first time that theyd ever contacted me, and then David and Warner suggested that I join the Sandman team, and then Allan [Heinberg] came to dinner on a Friday night, proud of owning a page from him, explaining why Sandman was on their network. A week later, Sandman was on Netflix.
Allan, what does it feel like for you to take on this responsibility? Knowing the history of it and being a fan of the comics yourself, what does it feel like to take on this responsibility?
ALLAN HEINBERG: I felt like a fan of Neil Gaiman. Every decision, conceptually, was dictated by wanting to be as true to, if not literally, my Sandman, as I could be. Every person on every level, every time we were putting on the program, for the last three years, has had that same goal.
This program might have been shot in a room with green screens, and it might have been recreated later.
So why was it important to do it this way? You feel the difference without necessarily being able to explain why, but why did it matter to you guys?
GAIMAN: I think that the experience is really interesting because you get a different experience. Sandman and theater are strange at times, partly because Tom [Sturridge] has done a lot of Broadway. He was able to grab the mic in ways that few actors with less experience would have mastered. And I think the theatrical experience is part of Sandman, especially with episode five in the diner. It was actually shot and rehearsed like a play.
HEINBERG: We were all there the whole time, for every shot. We made a fairly early decision, that whenever we could do something practically, we would. It also kept us on budget because so much of the show takes place in places that aren't quite as grounded as ours.
Was there anything you were most excited about bringing to life, or most hesitant or scared about bringing to life?
HEINBERG: There were so many of them.
There's so much visual imagery.
HEINBERG: So much. There are these iconic issues in the comic book series that everyone knows by heart. We knew we had to do Hell, which was a big task. We knew we had to do a cereal convention, which was also a big task. The diner was particularly terrifying for me, because I had to think differently about how to tell the story and remain true to it. It was also a fantastic fanboy moment for me.
GAIMAN: You look back at the years you've spent working with Hob Gadling in the pub, and you begin to think, Who did what in this? You look at the production designers, the costume designers, and everybody, and they went above and beyond. Nobody ever gets to do half an hour of television with eight sets and completely re-costuming everybody, every three or four minutes. But that something magical was absolutely grounded in Tom and Ferdy [Kingsley]'s performances as Lady Johanna Constantin
I want to see a one-off or a spinoff for any of these characters. I'm rooting for the Lucifer fashion series, it's amazing.
GAIMAN: I don't want to be a filmmaker, but I want to see Jenna Coleman and Joanna Constantine fighting demons, getting laid, and causing havoc in the London underworld series. I'd love to see more Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). I'd love to see more Abel (Asim Chaudhry) and Cain. They are simply fantastic.
HEINBERG: Gregory is extremely tender and vulnerable and sweet. I'd definitely add The Corinthian to the list. I'd love to see that spinoff.
The part with Cain and Abel and the gargoyle, Gregory, is like one of those infamous dog scenes in a film. It was so difficult to comprehend. How did you come to terms with it?
HEINBERG: That was a difficult decision, because in the comics, it isn't Gregory, but the Letters of Creation. He's basically awarded them, their real estate deeds, in the Dreaming, and in those deeds, in the comic, is a piece of his essence, his power, that he wants back.
GAIMAN: We had to break everybody's hearts early on in order to entice them to believe in the Dreaming.
HEINBERG: And to demonstrate that he cares about them as it is for them in some ways. And the gift of Goldie afterward shows that Dream has this really big heart. That was why we did that.
Even though I hated you completely for it, it was beautifully done.
HEINBERG: We harmed ourselves for doing it. I remember the moment in the room when it was like, Gregory? We cant do that, can we? It was a difficult situation for everyone.
I thought the job was well done, but I was very irritated by that.
GAIMAN: We are very, very lucky in that we get this amazing cast, who fell in love with what they were doing. They gave us more than we expected.
Netflix has offered a streaming version of The Sandman.