Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.
Neil Gaiman's The Sandman is coming to Netflix. After decades of fan discussions about who would play the series' many characters, it's time to think about it for real. If you've somehow never read the comic, it's about the King of Dreams, his family also embodying concepts starting with "D," and the relationships and rivalries that send his immortal life into a spiral.
The Sandman has way too many characters for one column, so I plan to return to it again. For now, here are my picks for the three most popular of the Endless and a bunch of other characters who show up early in the series.
Adam Driver as Dream
Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) has the stature, the angular features, and the full dark hair to play the Lord of Dreams. He's also a great actor who makes a perfect moody, Byronic hero.
Florence Pugh as Death
Florence Pugh (Little Drummer Girl, Midsommar) doesn't just look perfect for the part (once you lighten her skin and darken her hair, at least), she's also great at seeming wise beyond her years, which Death, the second being born at the beginning of the Universe, absolutely should be.
Jessica Barden as Delirium
Jessica Barden (The End of the F***ing World) looks way younger than she actually is, although not quite to as extreme a degree as the youngest of the Endless. Still, I think she can embody the chaos and charisma of Delirium.
Stephen Merchant as Lucien
Lucien is the librarian of the Dreaming, and a reliable figure that Dream trusts. Stephen Merchant (Logan) is perfect for that sort of thing, plus he embodies the character's improbably tall thin build.
Jake Johnson as Matthew the Raven
Matthew was kind of a dirtbag as a human, but he's given a chance to redeem himself when he's reborn as Dream's raven. Jake Johnson (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) plays great dirtbags, and he's got a good look for his human form in case they do any flashbacks.
Madison Iseman, Margo Martindale, and Vanessa Redgrave as the Witches
The Maiden, Mother, and Crone are a classic mythic archetype, three and one at once, who play an increasingly important role in the story as it goes along. Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete), and Vanessa Redgrave (Black Box) can find all sorts of complex ways to play off each other as the Three Witches.
Doug Jones as John Dee
Dee is a human who's become a monster by trying to steal Dream's power. Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery) is simply better than anyone else at playing semi-human and monstrous characters, so he'd totally own this.
Hailee Steinfeld as Rose Walker
Rose Walker should ideally be the real protagonist of the series, at least on the human plane. Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) brings a bit of star power to that role, and can also bring Rose out of the '90s to make her a modern young woman.
Rami Malek as the Corinthian
The Corinthian is handsome (as long as he keeps his shades on) but terrifying. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, Bohemian Rhapsody) is the man who can do both, and he'd look great with white hair.
Ezra Miller as Lucifer
Although his comic was a Sandman spin-off, the Lucifer that has his own TV show is a far cry from the one in the early Sandman comics. With Ezra Miller (Justice League) in the role, we'll bring back the androgynous Bowie-esque take on the devil.
Alice Braga as Thessaly
Alice Braga (Queen of the South) has a vibe of being too powerful for her size and too wise for her age. Put some big nerdy glasses on her, and she'll be perfect as the immortal witch who causes Dream so much trouble.