Ever since the multi-faceted Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced he was going to produce the movie based on Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed graphic novel series, The Sandman, the question now is: who will play the eponymous lord of dreams?
This is a most coveted role indeed, like the casting of Harry Potter, except that this series plunges far more deeply into the darker aspects of being human. The Sandman is arguably Neil Gaiman at his best, weaving myth and legend into his own original tapestry, with Morpheus, the lord of dreams, being at its center. Morpheus is portrayed as neither hero nor villain but a sort of non-committal god who oversees humanity’s dreams with equanimity. And yet he is essential to life as we know it, allowing inspiration and hope to thrive, and Gaiman takes good advantage of this necessity right at the story’s beginning when people’s dreams have been taken away along with the Sandman.
Morpheus’ journey to take back his realm of dreams and rebuild it with a new perspective is far from easy for such a powerful and immortal being, as Morpheus revisits his own painful memories in trying to find at least inner resolution to what past sins he cannot undo. Morpheus and his family are all part of the Endless, powerful beings who have existed from the beginning of time, and he is the most uplifting one of them, the others being Desire, Destruction, Delirium, Destiny, Despair, and Death.
The immediate concern is doing justice to the graphic novels; certainly one movie will not be enough. And in addition to great casting, extra care will need to be taken in the film’s visualization to capture the same dark tones the outstanding art of The Sandman strikes.
So who should play the Sandman?
Immediately an actor comes to mind who looks startlingly similar to the portrayal of Morpheus in the graphic novels: impossibly slim, pale, tall and mysterious, and already sporting dark locks in a current BBC series. Hmm … who could that be?
The very talented Benedict Cumberbatch would be a perfect candidate for this role of roles. His star turns in the latest Star Trek, The Fifth Estate, and 12 Years a Slave show his versatility as an actor, and the deep luxurious voice, which was put to great use in the latest Hobbit, would only add to the enigmatic character of the lord of dreams; meanwhile the air of mystery around Mr. Cumberbatch already created by his portrayal of Sherlock could very likely augment to other-worldly dimensions.
Of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself is not to be left out in the running. While JGL clarified in a tweet that he is only acting as producer for now, his presence may be required on-screen as much as off (Orpheus, anyone?). As seen in his Don Jon, Mr. Levitt seems to be exploring just how far his talents will take him, and producing The Sandman will certainly test him to his limits.
Either way, seeing The Sandman finally come to the silver screen will be a dream-come-true for many fans.