Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking graphic novel, The Sandman, has gone over 30 years without receiving an on-screen adaptation. But that’s all about to change. In August, Netflix will premiere their hugely anticipated live-action adaptation. Sandman is packed with superstars. Let’s go through the main cast list, and we’ll point out where you may have seen some of these actors before!
The Sandman follows Dream of the Endless (Tom Sturridge). He is the personification of the concept of dreams. We watch him as he goes about his duties as the ruler of dreams. Dream is just one of a family of seven anthropomorphic embodiments of natural forces called the Endless. The seven Endless are Dream, Death, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium, and Destruction.
Tom Sturridge as Dream
Where you’ve seen him before: Sturridge is currently well known for his role as Carl in The Boat that Rocked (2009). Most recently, you can see him as Eamonn in Irma Vep, and on Netflix you can find him on Velvet Buzzsaw.
Who are they playing? The titular character, Dream is the king of dreams, and the ruler of The Dreaming, the place we go when we fall asleep. Dream’s name, and his appearance, change depending on those who see him. Throughout the series, he’s notably called Morpheus, Kai’ckul, Sandman, Oneiros — the list goes on.
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death
Where you’ve seen her before: Kirby recently starred as Anita Darling in Disney’s Cruella. She’s also known for her recurring role as Elena Felton in Killing Eve.
Who are they playing? Death is Dream’s older sister, perhaps the breakout character of the entire comic. She is bubbly and upbeat with a gothic appearance. Her sigil is an ankh (the Egyptian symbol for life) which she wears around her neck. She is the person everyone meets when they die.
Where can I follow her? Kirby Howell-Baptiste is on Instagram.
Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer
Where you’ve seen her before: Game of Thrones fans will recognize Christie from her time as Brienne of Tarth. She also played Captain Phasma in the Star Wars franchise; a role in which she rarely showed her face.
Who are they playing? Lucifer is the ruler of Hell. In The Sandman season one, Dream visits Lucifer in Hell to try and reclaim his stolen helm. The character makes more appearances later on in Sandman, such as in the Season of Mists storyline.
Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine
Where you’ve seen her before: Jenna Coleman is no stranger to science fiction franchises, having previously played Clara Oswald in Doctor Who. She also appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger as Connie.
Who are they playing? In The Sandman, the role of John Constantine will be taken over by Jenna Coleman’s Johanna Constantine. Johanna is an occult detective. Dream seeks her help in reclaiming his pouch of sand.
Mason Alexander Park as Desire
Where you’ve seen them before: This year, Mason Alexander Park starred as Gren in Netflix’s live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop.
Who are they playing? Desire is the personification of lust, the twin of Despair. Desire is cruel, constantly interfering with their siblings.
Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian
Where you’ve seen him before: Holbrook is no stranger to playing villains. He previously played Donald Pierce in Logan. He was also the protagonist in The Predator (2018).
Who are they playing? The Corinthian is a nightmare creature created by Dream. While Dream is imprisoned, he goes rogue, causing chaos in the world. He creates a “Cereal Convention,” which is really a convention for serial killers. His most notable feature is the sets of teeth he has in place of his eyes.
Where can I follow him? He is on Instagram, but not very active.
Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead
Where you’ve seen him before: Does this really require an answer? Mark Hamill is one of the most recognizable actors of all time. But besides his iconic portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, Hamill has a pretty good record of voice work. He famously voiced the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. I’m sure his voice acting experience will serve him well for Merv Pumpkinhead in The Sandman.
Who are they playing? Merv is something of a comic relief in the series. He’s the outspoken janitor of Dream’s realm. Yes, he is literally a pumpkin. And yes, he smokes a cigar most of the time.
David Thewlis as John Dee
Where you’ve seen him before: Fantasy fans will instantly recognize Thewlis from Harry Potter, where he played Remus Lupin. That’s just one of a slate of impressive roles.
Who are they playing? A man driven for truth that might destroy the world, John Dee is very, very dangerous. And when Dream’s ruby falls into his hands, things only get darker and crazier…
Where can I follow him? Thewlis is on Instagram.
Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne
Where you’ve seen her before: You may recognize Acheampong from The Witches (2020) or from her role as Sandrine Lamore in Death in Paradise.
Who are they playing? Lucienne is the librarian of The Dreaming and one of Dream’s most trusted staff.
Kyo Ra as Rose Walker
Where you’ve seen her before: This is Kyo Ra’s first role as a professional actor. With The Sandman, there’s no doubt that she’s jumping right in at the deep end.
Who are they playing? Rose Walker is what is known as a Vortex, something that has been passed through her lineage. Her story begins when she travels to England to meet her grandmother Unity Kinkaid.
Where can I follow her? Kyo Ra is on Twitter.
Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess
Where you’ve seen him before: Charles Dance is perhaps one of the most famous actors in the show. Dance is known for numerous things, but I’m sure Game of Thrones fans will remember him from his time playing Tywin Lannister in the HBO series.
Who are they playing? Roderick Burgess is an occultist and the leader of the Order of Ancient Mysteries. In an attempt to capture and imprison Death, he accidentally captures Dream, which kicks the story off.
Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven
Where you’ve seen him before: Patton Oswalt is another huge name in the cast. His roster of projects stretches far and wide, from Ratatouille to The King of Queens.
Who are they playing? Matthew the Raven is Dream’s messenger. Originally a human called Matthew Cable, upon his human death he takes the form of a raven and works for Dream.
Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall
Where you’ve seen her before: Jammal played Maggie Mckillop in Netflix’s series Paranormal.
Who are they playing? Lyta is the daughter of Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. She becomes involved in the story when her child, Daniel Hall, is formed inside the Dreaming.
Stephen Fry as Gilbert
Where you’ve seen him before: It’s Stephen Fry, I think we’ve all at least heard of him. This won’t be his first comic book project, since he previously had a role in V for Vendetta.
Who are they playing? Gilbert, aka Fiddler’s Green, is a sentient part of The Dreaming who occasionally takes human form. When in his human form, he is known as Gilbert.
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cain
Where you’ve seen him before: From Goodness Gracious Me to The Kumars at No. 42, Bhaskar is a well-established comedy actor.
Who are they playing? The first predator, Cain is based on the biblical figure of the same name. Cain is a resident of The Dreaming. He’s cruel, bad-tempered, and dangerous. We see this mostly when he kills his brother, Abel, on multiple occasions.
Ansu Kabia as Sykes
Where you’ve seen him before: Known for playing Rufus in the Christmas movie Last Christmas.
Who are they playing? Ruthven Sykes is a former member of the Order of Ancient Mysteries.
Asim Chaudhry as Abel
Where you’ve seen him before: Chaudhry notably played Dev in Click & Collect. He also featured in Netflix’s ambitious interactive movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Who are they playing? The first victim, Abel is innocent and harmless but is tragically killed time and time again by his brother.
Joley Richardson as Ethel Cripps
Where you’ve seen her before: Joley is best-known for her role as Julia McNamara in Nip/Tuck. She’s also known for playing Queen Catherine Parr in The Tudors.
Who are they playing? Ethel Cripps is the mother of John Dee and former love interest of Roderick Burgess.
Where can I follow her? Joley is active on Instagram.
Niamh Walsh as Young Ethel Cripps
Where you’ve seen her before: Walsh played Verity Bridges in Jamestown.
Who are they playing? Well… she’s playing Ethel Cripps (see above), but younger.
Sandra James-Young as Unity Kinkaid
Where you’ve seen her before: Sandra James-Young’s filmography isn’t as stacked as other cast members. However, she had a small role in His Dark Materials. She’s best known for her portrayal of Fiona Payne in the British soap, Eastenders.
Who are they playing? While Dream is imprisoned and is no longer in power, many humans start suffering from an illness called “sleeping disease.” While Kinkaid suffers from this, she is raped by Desire. She is the grandmother of Rose Walker.
Ferdinand Kingsley as Hob Gadling
Where you’ve seen him before: Kingsley is best known for playing Hamza Bey in Dracula Untold (2014).
Who are they playing? In the year 1389, Hob Gadling makes a deal with Dream to cheat death and live forever. They agree to meet in the same tavern every century to see how he handles life. We learn about his ups and downs. Gadling features periodically throughout the series.
Donna Preston as Despair
Where you’ve seen her before: Donna Preston is best known for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Her role in The Sandman will likely be the biggest of her career so far.
Who are they playing? The twin of Desire, Despair is — as her name suggests — the bleakest member of the Endless. Naked and portly, Despair wears a hooked ring which she frequently uses to mutilate herself.