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'The Sandman' awakens on Netflix this August: Watch the dreamy new teaser now

The long-awaited adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novels premieres Friday, Aug. 5.

By Josh Weiss

Neil Gaiman fans can — at long last — stop dreaming about The Sandman television series because it's almost here. Netflix's forthcoming small screen adaptation of the acclaimed Vertigo graphic novels co-created by Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg will awaken Friday, Aug. 5.

The exciting premiere news was confirmed Monday during the kickoff to the streamer's second annual Geeked Week celebration. As an added bonus, Netflix also debuted a teaser trailer, which is chock full of moments ripped straight out of the first trade paperback collection of The Sandman comic book series, Preludes and Nocturnes — from Dream, aka Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), learning about the destruction of his kingdom, to Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), to Mad Hettie announcing the return of Dream, to the paranormal detective, Constantine (Jenna Coleman tackles the dual role of Johanna Constantine, both the 18th century version and her modern day ancestor).

But if you haven't read the comics, don't panic.

"We wanted to give longtime fans everything that they loved about reading Sandman and then more," writer, showrunner, and executive producer Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman, Grey’s Anatomy) said during a Geeked Week Q&A discussion hosted by Felicia Day. "Stuff that happens off panel in the comic — just a deeper dive into these characters' lives and their feelings and their souls. A lot of our cast were new to The Sandman, too, so we couldn't just operate within a fan bubble. We really needed to be able to tell this story for people who have never read Sandman before, and it was a pleasure to introduce people to this world and these characters for the first time. So you really don't need to have ever read the comics, but if you see the series and you enjoy it, we hope you'll run out and start reading because there's a lot to enjoy."

Watch the teaser trailer now:

Spanning several decades, The Sandman begins with an arcane ritual performed by aging occultist Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance), who hopes to trap the embodiment Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and make himself immortal. Instead, he accidentally captures the ruler of dreams, a member of The Endless, who patiently waits for his chance to break free. All the while, his absence from the snoozing world wreaks havoc across the globe.

When Morpheus does finally escape his mortal imprisonment, he returns home, only to find his instruments stolen and throne decayed. What follows is a perilous adventure across the realms to reclaim what was once his. "I approached it primarily as a fan," Heinberg said of adapting the material. "I fell in love with it when I was in college and I was buying it monthly in comic book stores. So I steeped myself in the comics again, I read all of Neil's original scripts, and then I got to work very, very, very closely with Neil, bringing it to life. [I approached it] primarily as somebody who loved it and was desperate to see a version of it."

"One of the things that I wanted to try and do when I was writing it was to tackle enormous beings, enormous ideas, and enormous time spans," Gaiman said. "But the only way that you can make anybody care about any of that stuff is by actually looking at human beings and what happens to them and people's hearts and people's minds and what happens to those. Tom's huge story as Morpheus would be so much less interesting without a Rose Walker, without a Johanna Constantine. You need what happens to them and their influence on him is actually what drives Season 1. It's all about change and it's all about beings who are bigger and greater than gods and what they're gonna become."

The show's stacked supporting cast also includes Gwendolyn Christie (Lucifer), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Cain), Asim Chaudhry (Abel), Boyd Holbrook (The Corinthian), Mason Alexander Park (Desire), Donna Preston (Despair), Niamh Walsh (young Ethel Cripps), Joely Richardson (modern day Ethel Cripps), David Thewlis (John Dee), Kyo Ra (Rose Walker), Razane Jamma (Lyta Hall), Sandra James-Young (Unity Kinkaid), Stephen Fry (Gilbert), and Patton Oswalt (Matthew).

"We had the most extraordinary casting directors ... their tastes and their instincts were incredible," Heinberg continued. "But mostly, I think Neil did the work for us. Once word got out this Neil Gaiman property that's been out for as long as it has and has this many fans as it has...once word got out, we had people coming to us, saying, 'May I be in The Sandman?' A lot of times, we would start talking about, 'Who do we see in this role?' ... We got very lucky."

The showrunner also revealed that Star Wars vet Mark Hamill will provide the voice of Dream's gourd-headed custodian, Merv Pumpkinhead. "He's fantastic in it," Heinberg teased. "And he was such a pleasure to work with. Neil and I had a day with him on Zoom and he could not have been sweeter. 'Can I try this? Can I try that? What do you need? Let me do it again, I didn't like that one.' It just made me a new kind of fan of his. I loved him."

"His Merv is hilarious," Gaiman added. "That's the other thing that needs saying. Merv was always, in the comics...on the one hand, a kind of comic relief, but on the other hand, the voice of sanity. The voice of just going, 'This is actually kind of nuts.' He gets to be that person, especially when arguing with Patton Oswalt's Matthew. It's so much fun."

David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Foundation) is a writer and executive producer. The Sandman arrives on Netflix Friday, Aug. 5.

Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over for the next two months? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.