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My Spidey Sense Is Tingling

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Discusses The Potential Of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman


We were surprised, but also kind of intrigued, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced he’d be working with David Goyer to bring Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman to the big screen. But that was pretty much where we left it. Thankfully, someone thought to press Gordon-Levitt for a few details.

Speaking with IGN.com, Gordon-Levitt made sure to point out the project was in the “very, very early days” when asked about it. Meaning, a lot could change. However, the actor still wouldn’t confirm whether or not he would be doing more than producing the film or give hints on what the plot would be.

IGN: Should we take you tweeting the hashtag “Prelude” in relation to Sandman to mean what we think it means, that you’ll be adapting the “Preludes & Nocturnes” storyline that began the comic?

Gordon-Levitt: I honestly just wrote that as sort of a pun, because this tweet was a prelude to who knows what’s to come. Obviously “Prelude” is the title of the first issue, but… Yeah, nothing is cemented yet. But there’s so much potential in that material. It’s exciting.

As to why he got involved with the project, Gordon-Levitt said he loves the basic concept of Gaiman’s tale.

The concept of personifying Dream, along with all of his brothers and sisters, the seven Endless personifying Death, personifying Destruction and Delirium and Destiny and Desire and Despair. I mean, that’s just a fascinating and, I think, a really cinematic concept. You look at the art of Sandman, and it just looks spectacular. I love big, spectacular movies, but oftentimes big, spectacular movies sort of get stuck in a rut. They go down certain paths that end in big explosions or whatever. Sandman has so much opportunity to do something that’s on a grand, grand scale, but really unlike your average big, grand-scale, spectacular movie. I guess that’s the tip of the iceberg.

I’m liking what I’m hearing, what about you?

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  • JSchoolJunkette

    Looks like Robin has done his homework on the material. Promising….promising…

    And honestly, we live in a world where Bradley Cooper was once cast in The Crow. This that perspective, JGL as Dream is not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.

  • Jeron

    Are we all agreed that Benedict Cumberbatch would be the perfect Dream? The man even talks like him!

  • Lily

    I really want The Endless to be played by less known performers. I loved how Game of Thrones found a lot of new talent and tried to find actors that truly looked and captured the character excellently for some of the main characters. I think using an unknown, who the audience is unfamiliar with, would be a great decision for our favorite anthropomorphic personifications.

    I think a lot of the fan casts for the Endless are cool but the actors are too old. Tilda Swinton would be my choice for Lucifer, Remiel or Duma instead of Desire due to her age. She could pull of that androgynous, otherworldly angel look well. Desire may be one of the hardest characters to portray without it looking too Frank-n-furter. I love Cumberbatch but I don’t want to see Dream = Sherlock. I hope they find a really great teen actor for Delirium. Anyone who can’t realistically pass for 14-16 years old is too old to play her, if we consider her backstory. I REALLY hope they don’t turn Death into some MPDG, sex kitten caricature. She was one of my favorite characters.

    That said, I am hopeful for the adaptation but worry about the execution since I love Sandman ( probably a little too much o__O).

  • Anonymous

    did he do his homework, or did he read the cliff notes?

    preludes is not the name of the first issue, rather part of the name of the first collected trade paperback, ‘sleep of the just’ is the name of the first issue. i dont know…using personifying three times in one sentence, speaking in really vague and general terms about the size and art, without actually mentioning any of the story, seems somewhat suspect. i’ll put a pin in this, but this source material has to be loved from the inside to make it work on screen, like lotr, not admired from the outside, like narnia.

  • Anonymous

    did he do his homework, or did he read the cliff notes?

    preludes is not the name of the first issue, rather part of the name of the first collected trade paperback, ‘sleep of the just’ is the name of the first issue. i dont know…using personifying three times in one sentence, speaking in really vague and general terms about the size and art, without actually mentioning any of the story, seems somewhat suspect. i’ll put a pin in this, but this source material has to be loved from the inside to make it work on screen, like lotr, not admired from the outside, like narnia.

  • Anonymous

    Still no High Budget HBO series.

    I hope they start with something more movie-like, like a Death special or something

  • W.C. Wit

    My big problem with this project is David Goyer, because every time I like a movie he wrote the script for it’s clear that was more the director’s doing than his.
    I want this film to be good because I love the comic but there is so much material and surreal imagery in the comic that I feel it would be better suited to an animated TV series than a live action film.

  • Karki Meade

    Having read some of the Sandman comics, I really have no idea how this will translate into a movie. While I think it’s a brilliant creation with great visuals, writing, and so forth, I’m not sure how a big-budget will be met with a big audience. Are people going to be wanting to go in droves to see a moody guy play trickster on occasion while usually just seeming like a passive observer to so much of what goes on in the stories? Will that work? I worry that it will either have a script where the producers will demand too much change or it will be a great film that only gets moderate box office support.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    I think the problem with Benedict is as Lily stated above – there’s too much of a chance it would end up been Dreamlock…

  • Lady Commentariat

    I honestly can’t imagine anyone but Guillermo del Toro successfully doing a Sandman adaptation, so it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

  • Cowtools

    Well, at some point we’re going to have to find the next del Toro, so why not now?

  • Cowtools

    Judging by JGL’s choice of movie roles, and his work with his HitRecord show, I trust him with this IP. However, there are still many cooks to be added to the broth. Waiting for the announcement that Goyer will be writing it…

  • Anonymous

    JGL is adorable, but Dream will always look like Johnny Depp to me.

  • Alexa

    Granted I have yet to read all of The Sandman comics, but I still love the idea and I like Levitt, the only downside is that Goyer is involved and I think he kind of sucks. I just feel like he’ll suck the story of any wonderment and enjoyment in my opinion.

  • thewho

    Listen to his interviews enough and you’ll find he has a propensity to speak in threes.

    I really appreciated his comments–he alluded to the tone and cinematic ambition he’s going for, and showed respect for the material, without revealing any surprises or befuddling casual audiences (which would be most moviegoers). No speechifying an essay on The Sandman, nor revealing specific details of his vision of the adaptation. The magic of cinema is seeing the final product.

    Also, the interviewer squeezed these Sandman questions into the last part of an interview for Gordon-Levitt’s TV show “HitRecord on TV,” while he was promoting it at the Television Critics Association press tour, so you have to consider the context.

    Anyway, he’s definitely got me intrigued and optimistic. Gordon-Levitt is always deeply committed to and puts a lot of thought into all aspects of his passion projects, from “Don Jon” to “HitRECord on TV,” wearing multiple hats and being very hands-on. He takes such responsibility for and pride in his work that I don’t believe for one second that he’ll allow himself to be a slouch on this one. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and he is a very ambitious man.

  • thewho

    I think Goyer is a good “ideas guy,” it’s just the specifics of dialogue and such where he gets tripped up. I think it’s very telling that Goyer has only been announced as producer and reported to be supervising the writing. He was the one who did the pitch/treatment, and that’s his strength. But I’m willing to bet they intend for someone else to do the screenplay.

  • Alexa

    I should hope so, because I’m sorry but that screenplay for Man of Steel was pretty terrible, sorry if you liked it but the writing on that thing was a mess among other things…

  • Anonymous

    I have every confidence that Hollywood can do the Sandman Justice.

    “Fall before be mortals! Your man-made weapons cannot harm me for I am Morhpeus the Sandman!” ::whips out machine gun, kills everyone, then kisses Death who is no longer his sister but a love interest::

  • thewho

    No, I was thoroughly disappointed by Man of Steel, but I give Goyer the benefit of the doubt for his contributions to Dark City, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight.

  • Anonymous

    thanks thewho, i appreciate you laying that all out for me and talking me down off the ledge.

  • Alexa

    I liked Dark City, interesting concept, but I am lukewarm Batman Begins and TDK. They weren’t bad but I just felt that they were needlessly complicated plot wise, but to be fair the writing was the least of the things that bothered me about those films. Just generally he doesn’t seem like the best guy to go to when writing films that deal in fantasy.

  • Tony

    ‘Dreamlock’ sounds like a Transformer that changes from a cloud into a dinosaur and then into your 2nd grade english teacher.