Ferdinand Kingsley Talks About Playing Hob Gadling in Netflix's The Sandman

Ferdinand Kingsley Talks About Playing Hob Gadling in Netflix's The Sandman ...

The Sandman, a Netflix series based on Neil Gaiman's DC comics series, explores a place called the Dreaming, in which The Sandman (a.k.a. Dream) brings his subjects' deepest fears and fantasies to life through storytelling. After his impromptu disappearance, Dream must correct some mistakes and revisit his friends and enemies.

Ferdinand Kingsley is well-known for playing Irving Thalberg in a 2017 episode of Doctor Who, and Mr. Francatelli in the British historical drama Victoria. In the Netflix series, Kingsley takes on the role of Hob Gadling, a difficult but crucial character that he initially auditioned to play Dream.

First, a quick character breakdown: Dream meets Hob in the 14th century at a pub. Dream overhears Hob talking wistfully about eternal life, something which Dream cannot fathom. As an experiment, Dream decides to grant Hob immortality, under the pretense that he'll leave after a century or so. At the end of each conversation, Hob insists that he is not ready to die. Over the next centuries, he endures many hardships and temporarily enters the

Game Rant: How were you introduced to The Sandman?

Ferdinand Kingsley: I was about to make an enormous lie about how the whole project was my idea, but the simple truth is that I was permitted to audition. I was actually in one of the early waves of people auditioning to play Dream. Obviously, they saw Tom [Sturridge] and instantly thought he's excellent. So, at that point, I was just excited that they were making it and said, Oh, I'll just watch it in a couple of years. I'll just sit on the sofa and say

I looked at the sides, and then I went back to the comics, and I went, Yeah, I think this is going to be fine. I auditioned twice, and then, relatively quickly, I got the role.

GR: That's fantastic. When you were younger, you mentioned that you loved The Sandman. What brought you to the comics?

Kingsley: I have all of the comic books, but they're my own copies, not my brothers. I'd have been nine or 10 if not for this underground obsession, but I wasn't aware that comic books might be a non-superhero thing until I was older. That's what you'd expect, and the idea that you'd be in charge of your sleeping life as a kid was interesting to me.

GR: Was it because of nightmares or were you simply unable to sleep?

Kingsley: I just didn't sleep. I lay out for hours. So, I initially thought this comic was just about a guy who came and poured sand into your eyes to induce sleep, and then I realized it was more.

GR: How did it feel when you stepped on set and saw real life scenes from the comics?

Kingsley: It was a shocker. The scope of the program was unimaginable. What I did get to see was this incredible, vast world being created by this incredible, talented and passionate team. Jon Steele, who was the production designer, created these stunning pub sets, which always had the same essence at the first pub. In that episode, you can't make the impression that you're in the same place every time.

The crew would build one setone pub that we were shooting in, and then next door to it, they had the same pub but it was for the next century. It was amazing. One day I went into this medieval pub with goats and dogs, and fires and food, and more people than I'd seen in about a year and a half because it was in the midst of the international catastrophe.

GR: What would you describe your character Hobb and his journey?

Kingsley: He has a journey. He is alive because there is still life left to be lived. He makes one unforgivable choice in particular: To enter the slave trade. That was something that we all struggled with in terms of writing and whether or not we can't scot-free him if we rewrite the comics.

We have to have him make the horrible, unforgivable decision to join the slave trade and then live with it forever. And, of course, he does have to live with it to the 1,000,000th of a percent that the people who were enslaved had to endure, but he does have to live with his conscience. It's not my job as an actor to offer judgment on the character I'm playing, but I have to play him as you see him. He asks himself, "Do

GR: What was your process of adjusting to or defying character during the time you were dealing with that moral dilemma? How did you avoid bringing that heaviness home with you?

Kingsley: I had to remind myself that Hob knows everything until that day, and nothing later. That's why he chooses to stay alive. Every century he's like, "This has happened, that's happened, this has happened," while not knowing whether Dream has the benefit of seeing ahead, before, or behind. That's why he's like, "This has happened, this has occurred," while not knowing whether Dream has the benefit of seeing ahead, before, or behind.

GR: That seems to be a great description of the overall takeaway from the program.

Kingsley: Absolutely. Every episode of the show and every graphic novel has the potential to change. Everyone is learning and changing, and Dream is as well. Everyone has something to be taught.