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The Sandman: An Unnecessarily Comprehensive Movie Fancast

Allow Us To Explain

Allow Us To Explain

So there’s a Sandman movie adaptation in the works, with a big name producer that no one quite expected: Joseph Gordon Levitt. Naturally, when a performer known primarily as an actor is tapped for a behind the scenes role in what could be a major franchise, rumors are going to swirl about his starring role in it as well. If you ask me, however (and well, you are reading this post, aren’t you?), there are other folks who’d be much better suited to the titular role in The Sandman, and lots of other roles in The Sandman that Levitt would be better suited for.

And thinking about how one would cast a movie featuring seven characters who can appear quite different depending on who is looking at them led quite naturally to pasting Wikipedia’s list of Sandman characters into a large Google document, enlisting the help of contributor Zoe Chevat, and throwing names at it until I’d come up with a cast that no Hollywood studio would have the money, or the representational cojones, to ever bring to the screen.

Please enjoy the fruits of my labors, and, as always, sweet dreams.

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  • Elwyne

    I like the idea of multiple actors playing the same role inside a single movie – even inside a single scene. It’s really the only possible way to portray these characters.

    I have a lovely image in my head of Destiny in his hood, each line he speaks in a different voice. :)

  • Janna

    Wow, that is extensive. But Elijah Wood is terrifying and should just be an extra in the serial killer convention.

  • Glitchy

    While Eartha Kitt would be an amazing Bast, she died in 2008. :(

  • Anonymous

    So now you’ve made me think of having a Lucifer movie in which the titular character is played by Tom Hiddleston and I can’t un-think it and the world is a sadder place because it doesn’t exist… so thanks for that.

  • Gordon Borland

    Surely it would have to be BRIAN BLESSED as Destruction. And my personal choice for Constantine would probably be Paul Bettany.

  • Anonymous

    I think you called it with Stephen Fry as Fiddler’s Green

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, 2/3 of these characters would NEVER see the light of day, don’t matter how many sandman movies they make

  • Janna

    Since the Bradley Cooper Paradise Lost got axed, maybe it can be reborn with Tom Hiddleston!

  • Melissa Bramble

    LOVE Faran Tahir, although I primarily think of him as the captain who hands over his ship to George Kirk in Abrams’ first Star Trek. After that comes Stark’s kidnapper or one of the Regents on Warehouse 13. But that’s just me. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you on a lot of these (Daniel Dae Kim hadn’t occurred to me, but he’s certainly demonstrated he can exhibit an impenetrable aloofness). But I would hope they’d come up with less of a copout than a CGI Despair. Firstly, because CGI in anything but action stands out like a sore thumb, distracting from the character for which it’s used, especially as they interact with other flesh and blood characters. I feel like I’m watching an unintentional Roger Rabbit. Secondly, I doubt very much that Hollywood will be able to create a CGI Despair that isn’t utterly unrealistic in the way fat and saggy flesh moves, hangs, droops, etc, and also painfully, cartoonishly over the top because More is Better, right? And Despair is all about Being Big And Fat, Because Fat=Ugly=Despair, right? Nevermind that the character is just large, not sumo-sized, or that her lines are often about temptation, the complement of Desire, and her self-mutilation seems more about embracing and savoring her own embodiment of self-destructiveness, not loathing her physique. That self-inflicted pain is her loving what she is, the way she loves the torment mortals put themselves through.

    But mostly because there are actresses and actors who could pull off Despair. Kathy Bates, for example, and not just because she’s heavy and has been nude on film. I think she’d manage that look of knowledge and enjoyment of others’ internal suffering beautifully. Kathy Najimy might be an interesting one: it’d be neat to see her portray something sadistic for a change. And (work with me on this) Goldie Hawn. No, stop throwing tomatoes at the screen! Take a look at pics of her now without makeup. Or that smile/grimace she does as if her teeth were all aching but by golly, she’ll grind them for the camera anyway! Or her angry face, where she looks like she could flay you to the bones with her eyes. That gravelly voice she uses sometimes, interspersed with the sweet, taunting, tempting one….

    Yes, there’d probably be a fat suit, or at least a heavier/droopier suit. But practical effects like extra weight or hooks in flesh have been well done for decades, and remain more convincing than most of the plasticky CGI. And with this face under a balding fringe of greasy hair, you could make a convincing Despair:

  • AverageDrafter

    I think we have to accept a few realities – JGL will be Dream (or Desire if he is brave enough – but definitely one of the Endless), and one actor will play all the parts with shifting wardrobes/make-up/effects/performances showing different perspectives if this element is maintained at all. Not Cloud Atlas levels of race switching or anything, and it might even be something that is shown initially, but is kept to a minimum even when they are in the presence of others who see them differently (i.e. we will see them as they appear to the character in POV shots, but only one way for the majority of the time – Quantum Leap style).

  • J.P.

    This is the Best. Thing. Ever. I have been obsessing about this for the last 20 minutes. I will now binge re-read all of the Sandman imagining these wonderful people playing those wonderful characters.

    Thank you so much for this.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and Olsen Twin for Delirium. You wouldn’t have to do a thing for make-up or coaching: they already have that Too Much Experience for Their Young Age look in their eyes. And the craziness. And the desperate attempts to distract from what looks like deep-seated horror, exhaustion, and dawning PTSD with gamine attire and silly antics. And the looming, back-of-the-crazy-mind awareness that once they were something wholesome and whole, and the world has changed them and remade them and now they are broken, battered things. Just pick which one looks craziest, and go.

    (*goes to hide in fallout shelter*)

  • Suzanne Larsen

    oh Kathy Bates for sure.

  • Suzanne Larsen

    ooooh Paul Bettany would be an EXCELLENT Constantine

  • Suzanne Larsen

    yeah thanks for the Gary Oldman gif. Thanks…..

  • Gordon Borland

    He even looks the part in Gangster NO.1

  • Katy

    Love this! I totally would never of thought of Kate Mulgrew as Despair, but now I totally see it!

  • Anonymous

    DANG IT. :(

  • Anonymous

    I always read him as Edward Herrmann of Gilmore Girls.

  • Anonymous

    I think Juno Temple (great name or greatest name?) or Evanna Lynch would be ideal for Delirium.

  • Anonymous

    I’d accept Margo Marindale as long as it didn’t interfere with her playing Granny Goodness.

  • Jen Bean

    I am happy just reading this.

  • Anonymous

    Say whatever you want, but David Bowie for Lucifer. That is all.

  • Anonymous

    Your pick of Cillian Murphy as John Dee has got me pondering how a movie would approach his character. Dee helped incorporate Sandman into the DC universe (before Vertigo was separate) because he’s B-list JLA foe Dr. Destiny. Since Dr. Destiny probably won’t be in a Justice League movie, general audiences probably won’t get the tie-in. They might, however, recognize Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow. Even though the Nolan Bat-films are not in continuity with the post-Man of Steel DC Cinematic Universe, they could reuse Murphy as a shortcut to reintroducing Scarecrow with a new actor in a new Batman movie. Dr. Destiny insults Scarecrow in the opening arc, but they’re not that dissimilar that you can’t swap them for convenience. Or will the movie just distance itself from DC’s supehero movies completely by not having Dee be a washed-up supervillain?

  • aradia zavion

    If Richard Griffiths hadn’t passed away this year, I think he would’ve nailed it.

  • odango atama

    “The Martian Manhunter: Chiwetel Ejiofor”


  • Mitchell Hundred

    Ever since I saw Dead Like Me, I’ve always thought Elaine Muth would make a good Rose Walker. She might be too old now, though.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    As someone who counts Jiz Lee amongst my friends, I say to the but two words;



  • Olivia Ripley-Duggan

    BRIAN BLESSED! Oh my god, internet-marry-me you amazing person you!

  • remy holwick

    Jim Parsons for desire. The man has a crazy broad range and he kills it as frankenfurter.

  • remy holwick

    …and lori petty for Despair!

  • Katy

    I could see her as Delirium or even Death. Even though she played dark and edgy in Dead Like Me, I think she could play cheerful or even crazy really well.

  • Anonymous

    The Three- Julianne Nicholson

    A. She has a pale face with freckles resembling the Moon (Artemis, Selene, Hecate)
    B. Pale green eyes and Auburn hair gives her a woodland aura
    C. Has played Maiden/Artemis in “The Love Letter”, Mother/Selene “The Red Road”, Crone/Hecate “Masters of Sex” , all three at once “Boardwalk Empire”
    D. Despite being 42, she can still pull of mid-to-late 20′s, which means aging her is a simple CGI touch up a la “Benjamin Button”

    Just take that Black Watch-esque dress she wore at the NYC premiere of August: Osage County and make it actually Black Watch for her M/S costume. Try to make a Black Watch variation on her black “pixie/ballerina” dress she wore awhile back for M/A. Then add a Black Watch element to simple beige tunic for C/H.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Rinko for Delirium!

  • Jack Greenall

    You cannot cast Leonardo Dicaprio as William Shakespeare. Seriously. Aside from his total inability to bring warmth or humour to any of his roles (seriously, the guy hasn’t cracked a smile on screen in a decade), it’s culturally appropriative to cast an American as England’s greatest literary hero.

  • Gordon Borland

    I don’t..I don’t know how to respond *swoons*.

  • Courtney Wilson

    I now have a strong need to see Leonardo DiCaprio as Shakespeare.

  • aradia zavion

    For years, my ideal Dream was Johnny Depp but now I’m thinking Damien Moloney (although I fancast him in virtually everything), with Laura Fraser as Death. That aside, I approve of most of this list (had to look a fair few people up though!).

  • Caitlin Quinn

    Paul Bettany is good but I’d rather see him as Lucifer. I’ve had my heart set on Guy Pearce as Constantine since always.

  • Gordon Borland

    One of my thoughts during Memento was man Guy Pearce could pull of a good Constantine, the others were “wait hang on does this makes sense, it does, no wait it doesn’t, no it does !

  • MrONegative

    You….haven’t seen Wolf of Wall Street yet, have you?

    But I do agree. He’s too…’Leo’ to be Shakespeare. It’d just be an impression instead of a character.

  • MrONegative

    Margot Robbie would make a great Calliope.

  • Christine

    I think Marc-Andre Grondin would make a great Dream. Tall, skinny, crazy hair, and the boy can brood like nobodies business.

  • Amy Macabre

    I am so excited for the Sandman movie! There’s a Boston performer Johnny Blazes who was truly born to be Desire! Johnny IS Desire!! JOHNNY BLAZES IS DESIRE!!

  • Anonymous

    Boston-area performance artist Johnny Blazes would be the PERFECT Desire. They are multi-gendered, sexy as hell, and LOOK JUST LIKE Desire. PERFECT. Check them out:

  • holy crow

    I’m hoping for Benedict Cumberbatch for Dream. But if you are going to cast for Desire, you should go with the talented Johnny Blazes!