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Neil Gaiman Revisits ‘The Sandman’ Adaptations That Almost Happened

Neil Gaiman at the premiere for Starz' American Gods.

Many consider Netflix’s The Sandman to be one of the best adaptations of creator Neil Gaiman’s work. A combination of creative freedom, a large budget, strong visual effects, and good timing went into making the lavish fantasy series such a success, and the series has topped streaming charts across the globe. But of course, the path to The Sandman is littered with attempted adaptations that never quite hit the mark. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Gaiman reflected on the long journey The Sandman has taken to the screen.

While multiple directors and actors have been attached to The Sandman at one point or another, Gaiman shared how he sabotaged one of the worst attempts at a film version. Iconic film executive film executive Jon Peters brought Gaiman a script for The Sandman in the late ’90s, that would have seen Dream, the Corinthian, and Lucifer as triplets on a mission to recover Dream’s tools. When asked his thoughts on the script, Gaiman told Peters, “There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.”

While the studio seemed set on moving forward, Gaiman squashed the film by slipping the script to influential entertainment blog Ain’t It Cool News. Gaiman said, “I thought, I wonder what Ain’t It Cool News will think of the script that they’re going to receive anonymously. And they wrote a fabulous article about how it was the worst script they’d ever been sent. And suddenly the prospect of that film happening went away. And instead Jon Peters turned his attention to Wild Wild West.”

Gaiman had kinder words for Eric Kripke’s adaptation of The Sandman. The Supernatural and The Boys creator took a stab at making a Sandman series for network television, which never came together. Not surprising, since I can’t think of anything more difficult than a network version of the series. When asked about the version on Twitter, Gaiman wrote, “It was a terrific network TV version of Sandman. But when you make a network TV version of Sandman you lose an awful lot of what makes it Sandman. @therealKripke did a great job considering the limitations.”

Kripke responded by tweeting, “Kind of you, sir. WB gave me a crack at #TheSandman but said it had to be network. It was my fave comic, inspired much of #SPN, so I tried. Neil was kind and patient but ultimately, it would’ve been a bad show. I’m glad he held out. Sandman on Netflix is lush, stunning. GO WATCH!”

As for a season two, Gaiman seemed cautiously optimistic, saying “Basically, the way that it works is making something like Sandman is incredibly expensive. This is not a cheap show. This is the opposite of a cheap show. This is dead expensive. And that means that in order to be renewed, we have to perform as well as everybody could possibly, possibly hope. So everybody is very hopeful. It’s all looking great. We’re certainly on track for it. But it’s all about how we do over the month after release.”

(via Rolling Stone, featured image: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.