The Dreamer: The Sandman
In the world of comic books and graphic novels, few titles are more revered than Neil Gaiman’s award-winning The Sandman series, which debuted in 1988 and pushed the medium to new heights with its mythical tales centering on Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Decades after their publication, The Sandman stories have become such a part of the cultural lexicon that English actor Tom Sturridge knew their legacy even though he hadn’t read them — that is, until he was preparing to audition for the title role in the Gaiman-produced television adaptation.
“The first thing I did was get a hold of one, and then I started to dive into the story,” says Sturridge, known for his work in TV series Irma Vep and Sweetbitter, as well as the 2019 feature Velvet Buzzsaw. “I just fell in love with Sandman as a piece of literature,” he remembers, “What became terrifying about the audition was not so much trying to become [Morpheus] but being so excited to potentially be a part of this world. Now I’m an obsessive Sandman fan.”
Sturridge beat out more than 200 other actors to win the part of Morpheus, Master of Dreams, the slim, pale figure who gives shape to humankind’s deepest fears and fantasies, in The Sandman. Spanning 10 episodes, the series’ first season begins with Morpheus, or Dream, being captured and held prisoner for a century, during which his absence sets off a series of events that threaten to change the dreaming and waking worlds forever. To restore order, Dream and his faithful raven (voiced by Patton Oswalt) must journey across various cosmic timelines, revisiting old friends and foes, including fallen angel Lucifer (Games of Thrones’s Gwendoline Christie).
“It’s an awesome responsibility to take on this role simply because it’s something that is so beloved, and quite rightly,” Sturridge says. “Everyone has passionate opinions about the character, and so I’m frightened to live up to those opinions and ideals. But at the same time, one of the things that I think is key to Dream is his sense of responsibility. We share this sense of duty, and so I’m hoping that those fears will actually help me.”