Tom Sturridge alternates between the Dreaming and the waking world in Netflix’s The Sandman, the upcoming small-screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s most prolific work. A recent set video posted by Gaiman superfan @iceberg_jim1 provides our first glimpse of Sturridge as the imposing, monochromatic Morpheus, the titular Sandman and Lord of Dreams, in all his pale-skinned glory. Dressed in an all-black ensemble, complete with a brooding overcoat and skinny jeans, Sturridge’s Dream is as arresting as he is intimidating, exactly the way an all-seeing Endless should be.
The cast of Netflix’s The Sandman is wrapping up filming in Richmond, southwest London. Dream himself is out for a quick stroll. Check out Tom Sturridge giving his A game in the clip below:
The Sandman is a dark fantasy epic about the Endless, a race of omnipotent beings with powers that far exceed those of gods. There are seven in all, each an immortal personification of the natural laws they were created to protect: Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Though each entity possesses a different mother, all seven were fathered by Time, hence existing entirely outside of it. The protagonist of all 10 paperbacks is Dream, or Morpheus, the literal embodiment of dreams and stories, and the human predisposition for hope, creativity, and ideas. The comic book starts out with the unthinkable: Dream, an Endless, was summoned during an occult ritual and captured; he then spends the next 70 years (107 in the Netflix adaptation) imprisoned in a cramped cell. Morpheus eventually outlives his human captors and manages to escape his prison. But even for a celestial with little awareness of time, living in extended isolation changed him. Once a proud, self-absorbed prick — as his equally dysfunctional siblings would say — being away from civilization humbled Dream, and he begins reassessing life and his myriad responsibilities in light of his changed perspectives. This is where we will find Tom Sturridge’s Morpheus when the series debuts on Netflix.
Dream’s physical form is malleable. He appears as a different person to different beings and people; the Egyptian god Bast remembers him as a fellow cat deity. A Buddhist monk encounters him as a Japanese man. A fox spirit sees a fox when it looks into his eyes. Sometimes he presents himself as otherwise inanimate objects, like a flaming alien skull to DC characters like Martian Manhunter. His clothes also vary based on the time period. Very few individuals can perceive him as he truly appears: a towering, lanky man with dark hair and a strikingly pallid complexion, with stars for eyes instead of pupils. The version of Dream seen in the clip is the Endless in his natural state, ashen-faced and clad in black. Tom Sturridge will likely manifest his character as different entities throughout the course of the show.
Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman spent years floundering in development hell until Netflix came to its rescue in 2019. Warner Bros. originally considered a feature film with Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio headlining, but later rewrites proved unsatisfactory. David S. Goyer (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) pitched a new angle with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead, but the project fell out due to creative differences. In 2010, the rights had languished enough that a television adaptation became more attractive; Logan’s James Mangold and The Boys’s Eric Kripke seemed perfect for the franchise, but both options tanked without Gaiman’s approval. Warner Bros. finally found a visionary in Allan Heinberg, the mind behind Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman. Tom Sturridge competed with Tom York (Olympus) and Colin Morgan (Merlin) for the role of Morpheus/Dream.
Aside from Tom Sturridge, Netflix’s The Sandman TV show also stars Gwendoline Christie as sovereign of Hell Lucifer, Vivienne Acheampong as the Dreaming’s resident librarian Lucienne, Boyd Holbrook as the Corinthian, an escaped nightmare, Charles Dance as occultist Roderick Burgess, Asim Chaudhry as the first murder victim Abel, Sanjeev Bhaskar as the first murderer Cain, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Mason Alexander Park as Desire, Donna Preston as Despair, Jenna Coleman as famed Hellblazer John Constantine’s ancestor Johanna, Joely Richardson as Burgess’s lover Ethel Cripps, David Thewlis as Doctor Destiny, Kyo Ra as Rose Walker, Stephen Fry as Rose’s bodyguard Gilbert, Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall, Sandra James-Young as Unity Kinkaid, and Patton Oswald as the voice of Matthew the Raven. The Sandman currently has no release date.