The Netflix adaptation of The Sandman has been long anticipated both by early fans of the DC comic and by those who have come to enjoy the many wonderful Neil Gaiman televised offerings, from Good Omens to American Gods. But even with the inherent appeal of the classic comic and its creator, there’s something thrilling about recognizing an actor that’s been cast in a key role from other work that they’ve done, especially if it happens to be genre fare that makes them seem particularly suited for their part.
The cast of The Sandman includes many fresh faces that will no doubt become more recognizable as the series gains an audience. But below are some of the more seasoned actors that viewers will instantly recognize and get excited about seeing in their new roles.
Tom Sturridge as Dream
The casting of the Sandman himself, also known as Dream or Morpheus, must have been a very carefully executed process. If Netflix got the main character wrong, it would throw off the whole show. Luckily, Tom Sturridge looks like he stepped right off the page of the DC comic thanks to his sharp features and fair skin (and, of course, creative costuming).
But Sturridge made a name for himself on the stage, particularly in his Tony-nominated Broadway performances as Phillip in Orphans and opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Sea Wall/A Life. He also appeared with Gyllenhaal in the Netflix thriller, Velvet Buzzsaw, in a cast which also happened to include The Sandman co-star Boyd Holbrook. Gaiman indicated in an Entertainment Weekly interview that, although thousands auditioned for the role of Dream, Sturridge had been high on the list of likely candidates within the first ten.
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death
Death was an equally beloved character from The Sandman comic, and a very specific personality would be required to pull off Dream’s older sister. Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s resume contains just the right mixture of serious and comedic roles to make her perfect in the role of this kind, mentor-like figure.
Many will recognize Howell-Baptiste as the neuroscientist Simone who joined The Good Place in later seasons. She also played Elena, the irreverent co-worker and companion to the titular character in Killing Eve. True fans may have also noticed her voice behind the character of Dr. Mae Turner in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.
Mason Alexander Park as Desire
Another of the Endless is Desire, the younger sibling of Death and Dream who, along with their twin sister Despair, actively works against the goals of Morpheus in The Sandman comic. Mason Alexander Park is another Broadway heavyweight coming to the small screen, best known for their lead performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. You may also remember them from their role as Gren in the short-lived live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation.
Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer
Lucifer may have his own Netflix adaptation led by Tom Ellis, but in The Sandman, the role of the ruler of Hell has gone to the formidable Gwendoline Christie. Christie carved a sizable niche for herself in genre circles with her role in Game of Thrones as Brienne of Tarth, and she has an equally devoted following in the Star Wars community through her appearance as First Order Captain Phasma. Christie will soon be seen in the Addams Family spin-off, Wednesday, also on Netflix.
Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine
DC fans may know the many incarnations of the comics character John Constantine, from Keanu Reeves to Matt Ryan, but Jenna Coleman has her own name recognition in the role of Johanna Constantine, who has her own connections to the noted exorcist. Coleman is most recognized for her time as Doctor Who companion Clara Oswald opposite Matt Smith, but is also noted for her titular role in Victoria.
Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess
Another Game of Thrones actor who makes an appearance in The Sandman is Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Charles Dance (a.k.a. Tywin Lannister), who plays Roderick Burgess in this series. True genre fans may remember him from as far back as his villainous role in 1986’s The Golden Child, but he also had plenty of more recent notable roles in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Mank, and The Crown.
David Thewlis as John Dee
David Thewlis definitely has one of those faces that audiences immediately recognize but can’t always place. In The Sandman he plays John Dee, who attempts to steal some of Dream’s power, but as Ares in Wonder Woman, he was a god who had plenty of his own. Viewers may also know Thewlis from his role as V. M. Varga in season three of Fargo, or they may have heard his voice in Big Mouth or Human Resources, in which he plays Shame Wizard.
Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian
Boyd Holbrook will play The Corinthian in The Sandman, a nightmare who escapes into the world to become a serial killer. Holbrook has been seen in Netflix’s Narcos and in Gone Girl, but genre fans may remember him as having played the cyborg Donald Pierce in the X-Men universe’s Logan or from his role as Quinn McKenna in the 2018 remake of The Predator. He will also play a part in the next installment of the Indiana Jones saga, releasing next year.
Patton Oswalt and Mark Hamill
Although Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker and Patton Oswalt has his own resume of guest appearances in nerdy fare across the spectrum, they also both have a rich history of providing their unique voices to animated characters. Hamill has played everyone from The Joker to Skeletor using his expressive, gravelly delivery, and Oswalt most notably voiced Remy the rodent chef of Ratatouille and, more recently, the titular invisible unicorn in Happy!
In the case of The Sandman, Hamill will voice Merv Pumpkinhead, the Dreaming’s beleaguered custodian, and Oswalt will lend vocals to Matthew, the raven companion of Dream. Along with the many notable actors listed above, their attachment to this property can only enhance its appeal to a wide audience. Soon The Sandman will be added to the list of shows for which they are known and admired.
All 10 episodes of The Sandman are available to stream now.