The Sandman on Netflix: When is the Neil Gaiman series released? What is The Sandman comic about? Watch the first trailers

Dark fantasy series The Sandman is coming to Netflix and it’s going to take your breath away. Find out the release date and everything you need to know…

By Alex Fletcher Published: 21 June 2022 - 11.48am
Netflix Tom Sturridge as Dream in Netflix's The Sandman

Dreams can come true. The Sandman is finally being turned into a TV series and coming to Netflix.

The hugely popular comic from Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, American Gods) which was originally published between 1989-1996 has been given a 10-episode first season.

There have been numerous failed attempts to turn The Sandman into a film or TV series over the last 30 years, but Netflix and Gaiman have finally found the right creative team and cast to bring the supernatural fantasy series to life.

Here is everything you need to know about Netflix series The Sandman…

When is The Sandman released on Netflix?

Watch The Sandman on Netflix on 5 August.

Season 1 has 10 episodes.

The Sandman Netflix trailer

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The Sandman cast

Tom Sturridge – Plays Dream of the Endless

Tom Sturridge as Dream in episode 103 of The Sandman Netflix

The show’s protagonist, Dream is One of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings older and greater than gods.

Dream is both lord and personification of dreams and stories and all that is not in reality.

Gwendolyn Christie – Plays Lucifer

Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar in episode 104 of The Sandman Netflix

The sometime ruler of Hell and a fallen angel. In the original comics, the drawings were based on David Bowie.

Sanjeev Bhaskar & Asim Chaudhry – Play Cain & Abel

In Gaiman's Sandman, Cain and Abel live in the Dreaming at Dream's invitation.

Gaiman's Cain is an aggressive, overbearing character. He is a thin, long-limbed man with an angular, drawn face, glasses, a tufty beard, and hair drawn into two points above his ears.

Abel is a nervous but kind-hearted man with a stammer.

Charles Dance – Plays Roderick Burgess

Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess in episode 101 of The Sandman Netflix

Lord Magus of The Order of the Ancient Mysteries, Burgess is a self-centred man with the sole purpose of gaining money, power and immortality.

Vivienne Acheampong – Plays Lucienne

Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne in episode 109 of The Sandman Netflix

The keeper of the Dreaming in Dream's absence, and one of the most faithful and trusted servants. Their primary function is to protect the Library, wherein are contained all the books that have ever been dreamed of, including the ones that have never been written.

Boyd Holbrook – Plays The Corinthian

Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian in episode 102 of The Sandman Netflix

A nightmare created by Dream, who has two additional mouths in the place of his eyes.

Kirby Howell-Baptiste – Plays Death

Neil Gaiman said: "Dream's wiser, nicer, and much more sensible sister. Significantly harder to cast than you might imagine (well, than I imagined, anyway). Hundreds of talented women from all around the planet auditioned, and they were brilliant, and none of them were right. Someone who could speak the truth to Dream, on the one hand, but also be the person you'd want to meet when your life was done on the other. And then we saw Kirby Howell-Baptiste's audition and we knew we had our Death."

Mason Alexander Park – Plays Desire

 Mason Alexander Park as Desire in episode 110 of The Sandman Netflix

Neil Gaiman said: "Dream's sibling and everything you want, whatever you want and whoever you are. Desire is also trouble for Dream. Families are complicated. We had barely started looking when Mason Alexander Park reached out on Twitter, and threw their hat into the ring. We were thrilled when they got the part."

Donna Preston – Plays Despair

Neil Gaiman said: "Desire's twin, Dream's sister. She is the moment when all hope is gone, the bleakest of the Endless. Donna Preston will be playing her, and her performance is chilling and sad. You feel her pain."

Jenna Coleman – Plays Johanna Constantine

 Jenna Coleman as Johanna, Tom Sturridge as Dream in episode 103 of The Sandman. Netflix

Neil Gaiman said: "Eighteenth Century occult adventuress, John Constantine’s great-great-great grandmother. This Sandman character became so popular that she even had her own spin-off series. I created her to fill the role that John Constantine does in the past. When we broke down the first season, given that we knew that we would be encountering Johanna in the past, we wondered what would happen if we met a version of her in the present as well.

"We tried it and the script was sparkier, feistier, and in some ways even more fun. So having written her, we just had to cast her. Jenna Coleman gave us the Johanna of our dreams – tough, brilliant, tricky, haunted and probably doomed."

Niamh Walsh / Joely Richardson – Play Ethel Cripps

Neil Gaiman said: “Roderick Burgess's love, John Dee's mother, is a small but vital role in the comics, but she became more important as we told our story. In the 1920s and 30s, she is played by Niamh Walsh: a betrayed and determined young woman seeking to survive. In the present day, now a woman of a hundred identities and a thousand lies, she's played by the brilliant Joely Richardson.”

David Thewlis – Plays John Dee

David Thewlis as John Dee in episode 105 of The Sandman Netflix

Neil Gaiman said: "Ethel's son is dangerous. He was driven mad, long ago. Now he's out and on a quest for Truth that may destroy the world. We needed an actor who could break your heart and keep your sympathy while taking you into the darkest places. We were lucky that David Thewlis took the part."

Kyo Ra – Plays Rose Walker

Neil Gaiman said: "A young woman on a desperate search for her missing brother, who finds a family she didn't know that she had, and a connection to Dream that neither of them can escape. We needed someone young who could make you care as she ventures into some very dangerous places. Boyd Holbrook's Corinthian is waiting for her, after all. Kyo Ra achieves that as Rose."

Razane Jammal – Plays Lyta Hall

Neil Gaiman said: “Rose’s friend, a young widow mourning her husband Hector. Rose doesn't know that Hector has started showing up in Lyta's dreams, though. Or that strange things are happening. Razane Jammal is Lyta, and she's terrific.”

Sandra James-Young – Plays Unity Kinkaid

Neil Gaiman said: "Heiress, Rose's mysterious benefactor. She has spent a century asleep. Now she's awake, having missed out on her life. She's played by Sandra James-Young."

Stephen Fry – Plays Gilbert

Stephen Fry as Gilbert in episode 107 of The Sandman Netflix

Neil Gaiman said: "Rose Walker's debonair protector. A dab hand with a paradox and a sword cane. Stephen Fry is a national treasure, and we forget sometimes that he's also a remarkable actor. Seeing him in costume and make up on the dailies made me blink: it was as if the comic had come to life."

Patton Oswalt - plays Matthew

Neil Gaiman said: "Dream’s trusted emissary. A raven. I expected our animals to be CGI, and was both taken aback and thrilled when the dailies started coming in, and there was Dream talking to... well, a raven. But ravens don't really talk.

"The question was, could we find an actor who could make you care about a dead person who was now a bird in the Dreaming – one who isn't certain what's going on, or whether any of this is a good idea? And could we find a voice performer who was also the kind of Sandman fan who used to stand in line to get his Sandman comics signed?

"The answer was, we could if we asked Patton Oswalt. And Patton was the first person we asked, and the first person we cast, the day before we pitched The Sandman to Netflix."

Mark Hamill - Plays Merv Pumpkinhead

Dream's cantankerous, cigar-smoking janitor: an animated scarecrow whose head is a jack-o'-lantern. 

Netflix's The Sandman - First look on set

Has The Sandman been adapted into a TV series or movie before?

There have been numerous attempts to turn The Sandman into a film or TV series, but none ever made it to the screen.

Gaiman was looking for a director and team who could bring the love and obsession for the project to match the likes of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, but the right combination never came together.

Talking about his collaboration with Netflix, Gaiman said: "The joy for doing it as a Netflix series is we aren’t in the place where we’re throwing things out. In fact, it’s the other way round.

"Sometimes that means that a lot more stuff gets to happen because we have room for it. But we’re never throwing things out, and we’re never abandoning things. And that, in itself, is a complete joy."

What is The Sandman comic about?

The Sandman is a “modern myth and dark fantasy” in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven.

The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic - and human - mistakes he's made during his vast existence.

Here is a synopsis of the story:

There is another world that waits for all of us when we close our eyes and sleep — a place called the Dreaming, where The Sandman, Master of Dreams (Tom Sturridge), gives shape to all of our deepest fears and fantasies. But when Dream is unexpectedly captured and held prisoner for a century, his absence sets off a series of events that will change both the dreaming and waking worlds forever.

To restore order, Dream must journey across different worlds and timelines to mend the mistakes he’s made during his vast existence, revisiting old friends and foes, and meeting new entities - both cosmic and human - along the way.

Which Sandman stories will season 1 cover?

Neil Gaiman has confirmed that the first 10 episodes will cover the first Sandman volume, Preludes and Nocturnes and will also begin to cover volume 2, The Doll’s House.

Who is making the TV series?

Tom Sturridge as Dream, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne in episode 101 of The Sandman Netflix

Neil Gaiman is working closely on the show with Netflix, which he has told fans will be a faithful adaptation of the comic series.

The creative team also includes Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman) as showrunner and writer and David D Goyer (The Dark Knight) as writer and executive producer.

And if anyone has complaints about the casting or tweaks to the adaptation, Gaiman has some strong words for you.

"I give all the f***s about the work," Gaiman tweeted. "I spent 30 years successfully battling bad movies of Sandman. I give zero f***s about people who don't understand or haven't read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn't white enough. Watch the show, make up your minds."

The one significant change from the comic series is that the events take place in the present day.

What other Neil Gaiman TV series have there been?

In recent years, Neil Gaiman’s popular fantasy novels have finally found their way onto TV.

Good Omens, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen, was a smash hit for Prime Video and will return for season 2 soon.

Lucifer, a hit series on Netflix, was loosely based on the character from The Sandman comic series.

American Gods premiered in 2017 on Prime Video and ran for three seasons. Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning and Ian McShane starred in the adaptation of Gaiman’s popular novel.

Prime Video are also currently working on an adaptation of Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, which will star Malachi Kirby and Delroy Lindo.

Watch The Sandman on Netflix on Friday, 5 August