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SYFY WIRE The Sandman

'The Sandman': Neil Gaiman reveals that the King of Pop wanted to play the King of Dreams

Yes, that King of Pop.

By Vanessa Armstrong
The Sandman S1 PRESS

Fans and critics alike have praised Tom Sturridge’s rendition of Dream (aka Morpheus, aka The King of Dreams) in The Sandman series. It turns out, however, that in the decades before Netflix adapted the comic book series by Neil Gaiman, at least one well-known performer wanted to take on the role. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gaiman shared that none other than the King of Pop wanted to take on the role of the King of Dreams. 

"By 1996, I was being taken to Warners, where the then-president of Warner Bros. sat me down and told me that Michael Jackson had phoned him the day before and asked him if he could star as Morpheus in The Sandman," Gaiman said. "So, there was a lot of interest in this and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels and what did I think? And I was like, 'Ooh.'"

That version of The Sandman never came to be, of course, and Gaiman went on to share that the search for Morpheus for the Netflix show was both a short and a long one. 

"I was like, 'It's going to be so easy to cast! We just find, you know, an English-speaking actor with great cheekbones, there's loads of them out there,'" Gaiman joked. 

Sturridge was one of the first four auditions that Gaiman saw, but the search continued for awhile after that.  "We saw, in the end, about 1500 Morpheus auditions,” Gaiman said. “I figured that, at the end of a couple of weeks, we'd have a shortlist of five or ten just as good as [Tom Sturridge], just as right as him, just as — you could say the lines as well as him — and we didn't. At the end of a week, we had Tom. At the end of two weeks, we had Tom. At the end of a month, we had Tom," he said. "At the end of six weeks, we said to Warner Bros: 'It's Tom, isn't it?'"

And what was it about Sturridge that sealed the deal for Gaiman? "Mostly I think it was the voice," Gaiman said. "There was something about the way he delivered the lines, the thoughtful way he delivered the lines, the way he'd find the poetry and the beauty and the tune of the lines. It was wonderful. It was right."

The first season of The Sandman, 11 episodes in total, are now streaming on Netflix. No news yet on whether the show will be picked up for a second season

Looking for more fantasy adventures? Stream the entire eight-film Harry Potter saga on Peacock.