David Bowie, Real-Life Ravens, And Chilling In A Big Glass Bubble: 15 Fascinating Facts From The Making Of "The Sandman"

    Most first days at work are overwhelming, but something about hanging out naked in a giant glass bubble seems particularly intense. Tom Sturridge, who stars as Dream, aka Morpheus, aka The Sandman on Netflix's The Sandman, got to find out just how true that is.

    Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Season 1 of The Sandman. 

    1. In The Sandman, Tom Sturridge plays Dream, a member of the Endless, an immensely powerful (and dysfunctional) family of siblings who represent concepts such as Destiny, Death, Desire, and so on. The actor told Tudum that the creative team initially attempted to recreate Dream's ethereal, supernatural appearance from the comics, before deciding that the costume looked a little too much like, well, a costume.

    Tom Sturridge in "The Sandman"

    Sturridge explained, "I'm an intense fan of The Sandman, and the first thing that I wanted was a literal translation of what’s on the page onto my body. And so we painted my skin as white as an A4 piece of paper. I had black contact lenses with stars, and the hair was huge and wild exactly as it is. And I thought I looked amazing."

    Tom Sturridge in "The Sandman"

    But when people around the studio asked him if he was starring in "some sort of Halloween movie," it was decided a more subtle approach would be more suitable. According to Sturridge, Neil Gaiman, the writer of The Sandman comics and an executive producer on the show, thought that Dream "blends in with his surroundings" and is "at one with the fabric of the world." This necessitated a more believably mortal look.

    Closeup of Tom Sturridge

    2. Gaiman told Entertainment Weekly, "I think I have personally seen 1,500 Morpheus auditions." Sturridge's was one of the first.

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    3. At the end of the series premiere, Dream gets his revenge on Alex, the son of his original captor Roderick, for keeping him locked up in a glass bubble prison for over a century, which is fair enough. (They were originally trying to capture Death, but apparently made the occult equivalent of a typo.) The audience doesn't see the exact nature of Alex's punishment, which Dream calls "the gift of eternal sleep," only that he cannot wake up from what is clearly a terrifying nightmare.

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    On his Tumblr, Gaiman wrote that a more detailed adaptation of Alex's punishment was shot, but ultimately cut from the episode. In one post, he wrote, "People didn’t seem to care about Alex’s nightmares. They just wanted to know what Dream did next. So it went."

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    4. In addition to being visibly pissed the whole time he's trapped in his bubble cage, Dream is also naked. Sturridge told Entertainment Weekly, "It was definitely a baptism-by-fire to be introduced to the people I was going to spend nine months with naked, climbing into a glass box." Since it was difficult to deconstruct said glass box, he "would genuinely sit in it for hours at a time," which he joked was "very COVID safe."

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    5. In one episode, Dream duels Lucifer Morningstar, the literal devil and ruler of Hell, played by Gwendoline Christie. Christie's costumes were designed by her partner, the fashion designer Giles Deacon.

    Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer

    Deacon told Tudum, "Gwendoline provided me with great insight into her vision of the character from a sense of action, poise, and what her Lucifer was about and was about to undertake. This really helped to galvanize the sense of silhouette, graphicness, color choices, fabrications, and overall direction of the costumes." He noted that Gaiman's perspective was invaluable in designing the aesthetic of the "fluid androgyny of his fallen angel."

    Lucifer Morningstar

    Christie herself told Tudum, "Giles was so excited to be involved. He loved the character. He loved the comics. He loved Neil’s work. ... He’s worked for such a wide range of people to create something that had all of the magisterial qualities that we felt that Lucifer deserved, but encompassed the androgyny."

    Lucifer Morningstar

    6. Christie told Tudum that the "idea of Lucifer being a junkie angel" was based on David Bowie, and Gaiman himself said in a Vanity Fair video that the show's creative team wanted the character to embody an "androgyny based around early David Bowie, Bowie when he was a curly-haired folk singer with a perm."

    David Bowie playing the guitar

    7. In that same Vanity Fair video, Gaiman said that Lucifer's wings came to life through both practical effects and CGI. Apparently, the physical wings were seven feet tall.

    Lucifer Morningstar

    8. Mason Alexander Park plays the vicious and alluring Desire, younger sibling to Dream and Death and twin to Despair. They got the gig in part because of a tweet they sent to Neil Gaiman.


    At the time, Park was in the middle of two weeks of quarantine while filming Cowboy Bebop in New Zealand. Park told Playbill, "I could’ve easily reached out to my agents in the morning. But I don't know, I felt like I wouldn’t get an answer about this for a while. I just felt very bold. It was 4 a.m. — I was a little delirious — and I thought, 'I'm just going to tweet Neil.'"

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    In the Vanity Fair video, Gaiman said, "Mason contacted me on Twitter, and they asked me who the casting director was. Now, I was curious, and I went to YouTube and watched some of Mason's videos and went, 'Woah. This performance is exactly what we're looking for.'" Through this brief digital conversation, Park was able to submit an audition tape and nab the part.


    9. In an interview with Tudum, Park said that Gaiman told them that he "never played Desire as a villain," and that Desire is in fact "the hero of their own story."

    Dream and Desire

    10. Vanesu Samunyai, who plays Rose Walker, a young woman who doesn't realize that she is a "dream vortex" possessing a potentially catastrophic amount of power, told Collider, "From the first audition, I already felt like I knew how to play her. The script was really well-written. It was one of those things that an actor dreams of, where it’s like, 'Oh, yes, this is so easy to play.' The words just come straight out of my mouth, and it feels so natural." Samunyai said that she "worked with a coach" to develop Rose's character.

    Dream and Rose

    11. According to Tudum, Matthew the Raven, who is voiced by Patton Oswalt, was given a larger role in the series so that Dream would have someone to chat to, as the thought bubbles possible in comics don't translate to television.

    Matthew the Raven

    12. And Matthew is played by a real raven in certain scenes. Sturridge told Polygon, "There’s a danger with these kinds of productions, that it becomes a kind of CGI orgy. And there’s so much of the intention with this is always to make everything practical that you could." One of those practical touches was a real-life bird.

    Matthew the Raven and Rose

    13. Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays Death, Dream's older sister and a somewhat more chipper entity than one might expect. Howell-Baptiste told Tudum that of all the death scenes she filmed as part of the season's sixth episode, "The Sound of Her Wings," the one featuring an elderly violinist was the most emotionally challenging.

    Death and Dream

    Howell-Baptiste said, "The gentleman was so sweet and so lovely. That was probably one of the most emotional days I’ve ever had on set — the idea of taking this man away from his family. And he’s an incredible actor as well. So that definitely was the most moving and probably most difficult day on set."

    Dream and Death

    14. Gaiman told Entertainment Weekly that he once instructed Sturridge to "stop being Batman," since he was "trying to get a bit whispery" with Morpheus's intense voice during the early days of filming.

    Lucifer and Dream

    Sturridge pointed out that he got the note on "literally my first day," but said that it was "incredibly helpful" nevertheless.

    Screen shot from "The Sandman"

    15. And finally: During an interview with E! News, Vivienne Acheampong, who plays Dream's librarian and confidant Lucienne, said that she was gifted her character's prosthetic pointed ears. She keeps the souvenir in "a glass box at home."


    In the same interview, Sturridge was a bit nervous to announce the iconic prop he'd taken from set: Dream's pouch of sand, one of the three objects that symbolize his power, along with his helm and ruby. He clarified, "It's safe! So if we need it again, it's very safe."


    The Sandman Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

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