‘The Sandman’ premiere: Neil Gaiman reveals the secrets of the adaptation

Neil Gaiman did not have to. He could very well have been left alone. After 30 years of successfully turning down every “bad” attempt to adapt his best-selling Vertigo graphic novel series “the Sandman,” Gaiman could have decided to let dreams of an adaptation of “The Sandman” die with that nightmare most recent effort: a feature film starring and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Warner Bros. New Line, which released in 2016. I broke down.

“The Sandman” live-action TV series produced by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, which was ordered to series Netflix In June 2019, it finally launched on Friday. So why did Gaiman try again?

“In many ways, that’s the only question we can ask,” said Gaiman, who is executive producer and writer on the series, along with David Goyer and showrunner Alan Heinberg (“Grey’s Anatomy”). “And oddly enough, when Alan and David Goyer and I sat down to have dinner together, essentially the night before we were going to pitch it to Netflix and the world, that was our question. Why do we do that? And why would we do it now? Especially for me, after three decades of stopping bad “Sandman” adaptations from happening. Whether off the hook or by the crook, justifiably or dishonestly, I’ve seen a lot of bad “Sandman” movies. blocked and locked. go and google Isn’t it good news Description The script for Jon Peters’ version of ‘Sandman’ [developed in 1996], in which, on page five, Morpheus tells the police coming to arrest him, ‘As if your small arms might hurt me, the mighty lord of dreams, Sandman.’ And it gets worse from there. ,

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Tom Sturridge as Dream in ‘The Sandman’
Courtesy of Netflix

In his lengthy analysis of why he decided to rekindle the idea with the first season of Netflix’s 10-episode “The Sandman,” which follows the adventures of Dream (Tom Sturridge), aka Morpheus, his first two. (out of 10) follows graphic novels. aka The Sandman, Gaiman — author of other beloved titles like “American Gods” and “Good Omens,” which have also been adapted for Starz and Amazon respectively — provided an in-depth threefold answer, which we covered in full is here:

For me, partly I was going to, it would be. There will be a “Sandman” adaptation. if you see The backbone of the DC Comics book’s vast Taschen history, it weighed about 15 pounds, and next to it are Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Morpheus, the Sandman, with their faces staring at you. And everyone knew it was the crown jewel that was not customized. And after 30 years, “Sandman,” at this point, is probably the best-selling series of graphic novels ever published in America, you know it’s going to happen. So partly, it’s acknowledging, well, if it’s going to happen, why not make it good?

“Sandman” as a graphic novel series, as in comics, was I getting to say things to the world that I believed in. They were things about inclusivity. Those were things about humanity. There were talks about shared humanity. There were talks about dreams and about death. There were words of comfort and there were words of warning. And then when I told them, they were important and I thought they were true and I felt right to say them; Including, you have your story and your story is important, and included, you get a lifetime. And those are the things I wanted to say. And I don’t think any of these things are any less important or less relevant now. And in fact, I feel in this kind of strange world in which sometimes I feel like people are splitting up into smaller and smaller groups and closing ranks and seeing someone on the other side as the enemy. People need to be reminded that standing next to them is someone who has a thousand worlds and every world is a door and through every door there is something you have never dreamed of. And people are colder beneath the surface than you would have ever imagined. And I wanted to remind people of that.

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Vivienne Achempong as Lucien in ‘The Sandman’
Lawrence Sandrowicz/Netflix

And then the third thing, which was after I made “Good Omens”, I felt like I knew how to do it. When “American Gods” was being made, I was an executive producer, which meant I had to give notes — which were ignored. But it was fine. I was part of the talk. After making “Good Omens”, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t do shit anymore. I’ve actually made it, I’ve done it. So when I say to people, “Can we do that?” And they would go, “No, we can’t do that. It’s going to cost a lot of money.” I’d be like, “No, no, no. I have made it. I really know we only need a wall for this to happen.” So the knowledge that I really have the skills to guide this thing and work with it, and that I wasn’t going to be intimidated. , but that I really loved to do, that was also the other part of it for me.

At the end of Gaiman’s decades-long battle against bad adaptations of “The Sandman,” “Batman Begins” and “Foundation,” writer Goer became interested in attempting what he hoped would be a bad one in Gaiman (and fans). version will not. eyes. To mitigate the risk, Goyer urged Warner Bros. to become an active producer and co-writer on the Gaiman pilot.

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Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar in ‘The Sandman’
Lawrence Sandrowicz/Netflix

Sources say Goyer was also adamant that “The Sandman” should not be “dumb” and should be “kept funny” and that Goyer and Gaiman rejected any attempts to make it “pointy”. . Finally, in June 2019, Goyer and Gaiman’s dream became a reality and Warner Bros. began looking for a showrunner to handle the day-to-day organization and execution for the TV series adaptation of “The Sandman.” Enter Shondaland alum Heinberg.

“It was a very strange situation. Timing was everything with it,” Heinberg said. “My three-year contract with ABC Studios was coming to an end when I was getting together with Warner Bros. Possibly something to do with them. And whenever I’ve met him for the last 25 years, I’d always ask, ‘When are you guys going to be called “The Sandman?” And at that moment they said, ‘We’re really taking it to the streamers with Neil David. Do you know David Goyer?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve known David Goyer for years. Is David writing this?’ And he said, ‘No, David’s an executive producer, but he’s doing ‘Foundation’. We are actually looking for a writer.’ We all looked at each other and Susan Rovner said, ‘Let me get back to you.’ And by the time I got into my car, David Goyer was calling me on my cell phone, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And I was like, ‘Listen, if you and Neil already have a plan and you don’t want me to do it…’ and David said, ‘Fuck you, you’re doing this. I am calling Neil.’ And the same happened.”

But Heinberg wasn’t really on board right away because, as he says, he “didn’t want to be the guy to ruin Sandman.”

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Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian in ‘The Sandman’
Liam Daniels/Netflix

,[I told Goyer,] ‘If Neil wants to do a panel-by-panel version of it, I don’t know how to do it. I have been working with Shonda Rhimes for 15 years. I write relationship dramas. It will need some adaptation,'” Heinberg said. “And David said, ‘Yeah, and that’s why we need you, And Neil knows this. And you will see when you guys talk’. And of course, in that first meeting, Neil took up the big problem, which was, ‘Well, our lead is naked and silent and in a cage for the whole pilot. What are we going to do to make the audience love him?’ And I was like, ‘Okay, he gets it. There’s a big problem here and he already wants to solve it at our first dinner.’ And then 24 hours later, we were pitching it to those who streamed it. ,

Wait, because Gaiman has an objection here that industry people are likely to find amusing: “Actually, because you’re Diversity, I’m going to put a footnote here: Alan tells people, and I tell people, because it’s so easy to say, ‘And 24 hours later, we were pitching.’ That is not true. Had dinner on Friday night. And the pitch was Monday morning. However, that Saturday and then on Sunday, an impossible thing happened, which was Allen’s contract. [with Warner Bros.] was written and agreed and signed. just because you are DiversityJust because you understand that the true art form of Hollywood is contract, I want to tell you that the impossible was done. The contract was signed before Allen arrived at the meeting on Monday morning.

After “pushing it through the power of Neil Gaiman”, according to Heinberg, it was time to pitch. And the winning bidder who says a very expensive auction was Netflix — a streamer full of “The Sandman” fans ready to take on the challenge of becoming the home of the long-awaited, “really good” was. Sandman” adaptation.

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Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine and Tom Sturridge as Dream in ‘The Sandman’
Liam Daniels/Netflix

“It came from Warner Bros. and DC several years ago. I was running the genre team at the time,” said Peter Friedlander, head of scripted series for the US and Canada. “And Channing Dungeons [now CEO of Warner Bros. TV Studios] He was looking after the drama team here. And I remember very clearly when we got a call about ‘Sandman’ and there were other guys on my team who were just superfans of IP and they had posters of characters like Death on their walls. So when the call came, it was real glee, people jumped on the spot. We actually went to Warner to hear Neil Gaiman and David Goyer and Alan Heinberg and the whole team there. And it was a very special presentation. I think we all knew this was something we would be thrilled to have for Netflix. And you may have heard about the various adaptations over the years, ‘Will it become, right?’ And it seemed like the time was finally right. The way they wanted to tell the story, I really think the technology was in place that they could actually use visual effects to tell the story they wanted through the medium. The stars had finally aligned to bring ‘Sandman’ to fans like this.”

What followed was three years of writing, casting, filming, and editing a massive series, with Sturridge as Gwendoline Christie Lucifer, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew the Raven. In 2011, Vivienne Achempong was in as Lucien. , Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, David Thewlis as John Dee, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Dream’s sister Death and Mason Alexander Park as Death’s brother Desire, and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead. If you know you know — and if you don’t, don’t worry, because “The Sandman” team is very excited to introduce you to these characters and this world created by Gaiman, the original hallmark of the comics. is right for. ,

(Pictured above: Tom Sturridge as Dream and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in Netflix’s “The Sandman.”)

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