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Neil Gaiman Breaks Down Everything in Netflix's 'The Sandman' Official Trailer

Frame-by-frame, 'The Sandman' writer Neil Gaiman watches and takes us through the official trailer for the first season of Netflix's 'The Sandman.' The Sandman releases on Netflix on August 5.

Released on 07/23/2022


[Announcer] In a world where Neil Gaiman

watches the trailer for the first season of the Sandman.

We ask I'm to explain every shot.


[daunting music]

Now here, we get to see Tom Sutrridge.

Plays Morpheus, the king of dreams, the prince of stories.

Tom was in the first email we got from casting

and we went oh my gosh, Tom is the best, Tom is magnificent

and then we saw 1,500, 2,000 Morpheuses

and there was no one who was Tom.

He had gravity.

He could actually make you believe

that he was a billions of years old entity,

somebody who existed in dreams and he wasn't human.

[daunting music]

[Morpheus] Your waking world is sha--

So that first shot, which I think is incredibly beautiful,

we had Morpheus next to Matthew the Raven

looking out at hell.

I love the color, I love the bleakness, I love the sky.

For that particular shot,

we're actually in a incredibly digitally-enhanced

bit of England on some real grassland.

We had a little smoke and stuff, but we added to it.

Then we just made it hell.

[Morpheus] Your waking world is shaped by dreams.

One of the things I love about this moment

is that you can see the moving body parts.

It always made me think of Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast

where you enter the Beast castle

and there are these arms coming out of the walls

holding candelabras, which they did by having

people standing on the other side of the wall

with their hands through holes.

And of course, we're doing the same thing here.

When I was writing Hell,

Hell was this place that all of the people

who ever thought they should be in hall had gone.

It was made up of them as much as it was anything else.

So for me, this is just sort of part and parcel

of the same thing.

These are all people.

The whole thing is made up of people.

Hell is people.

[daunting music]

[Morpheus] Dreams.

I love this shot because

it's a place called the Threshold,

and it's where Desire lives.

On the one hand, it really reproduces the comic.

Some beautiful Mike Dringenberg,

later some Mark Canton images

that we went to.

We tried reproducing the comics exactly

and it didn't quite work.

And then we had to think well how will it work?

How does the heart hang in the chest?

What position are the arms in

that doesn't make it look goofy,

that doesn't make it look weird with a real person?

We just see it for a moment here

that seeing desire's home, the Threshold,

makes me really happy.

[Morpheus] Dreams and nightmares that I create

and which I must control.

Now this shot, it's exactly the same shot as the comics

although it is flipped.

We knew that moment was gonna be important

and that's the moment where Morpheus,

who has been imprisoned for over 100 years,

finally out of his cage and returning to the dreaming.

The comics were always the Bible.

Sometimes they were more the Old Testament.

We let things change,

but the things that changed tended to change with the times

or with the need to make something in the television.

Other than that, we looked at things and go,

oh, if it isn't broken, we're not gonna fix it.

And that was our first shot of the castle.

Of the dreaming.

The thing about the castle in the comics

is it always changes.

It change issues to issue.

It's the castle of dreams

so it looks like whatever it needs

to look like at that moment

and here, we actually had to pick a look

to be able to go okay, this is the look

when it's a fabulous, thriving happy place

and this is the look when it's destroyed.

He's out there looking for me, isn't he?

Can you imagine the damage he could--

Lucienne is the only character that I can think of

where we'd actually,

intentionally gender-swapped the character.

I had populated the dreaming

the characters from old DC comics, horror anthology titles.

Lucienne came from a comic called, if memory serves,

Tales of Ghosts Castle.

Morpheus needs characters around him

who can be honest with him and tell him things

for his own good and tell him when he's screwing up,

which he can then ignore.

Can you imagine the damage he could do?

[Morpheus] I need you at home.

If dreams disappear, then so will humanity.

I could do without dreams for a while.

Now what is interesting about this

is this is the amazing Jenna Coleman.

Got the role of Johanna Constantine

after we'd auditioned some amazing actresses

who were not giving us

whatever that undefinable Constantine spark is, and she did.

People say ah, you gender-swapped Constantine.

And I'm like, no I didn't.

I knew that I was gonna have my Lady Johanna Constantine

sequences in the past,

and I knew that somebody coming in

and just watching Sandman Cole with no DC comics

back knowledge or whatever,

the information that she was the ancestor

of the character that we had met in episode three

would really mean nothing at all.

The idea of an 18th century version of this character

on the run in the French Revolution with a severed head,

that one I could get into.

So it immediately, when we were looking for our Constantine,

that was the way that we went.

I love the weird kind of spark that we see

between Morpheus and Constantine

because he is actually slightly more polite with her,

I suspect, than he would have been with a male alternative.

One of the things that is a little difficult

with Sandman and DC Comics

is where Sandman intersected with DC Comics,

for example, we have the Martian Manhunter and Mr. Miracle,

two characters who happened to be in the Justice League

in 1989.

So really, what we tended to do was

if it's a character that we're likely to meet again,

if it's a character who is going to wonder through

the story then, we take a look at how to incorporate them,

what we're doing to incorporate them.

And sometimes we don't necessarily do it

in ways you'd expect.

Dreams for a while.

Think that's a decent night's sleep in ages.

[adventurous music]

I'm not a star.

And that is the glorious David Thewlis.

David Thewlis plays John Dee.

He's a man who has spent the majority of his life

in maximum security mental hospital but with armed guards

and he was out with the ruby

that he used to do terrible things before.

24 hours, which is Sandman Issue Six,

which we translated into episode five of the TV series.

It is the darkest comic I think I've ever written

and terrible things happen to some people.

Biggest challenge was making something

that people would keep watching,

and wait to see how it ended and come back

for the episode after.

The other challenge was we had to spend

longer setting the story up than we did in the comic

and spend longer just getting to know these people

and getting to love them

because that's what makes it matter,

that's what makes you willing to spend

the rest of the time with them.

Until I've reshaped this world.

Tell us what power...

We get to meet Lucifer.

Lucifer Morningstar, Lord of Hell.

Played here by the unbelievably awesome Gwendoline Christie.

This would be the third place where people would say,

did you gender-swap this character and I say,

of course not.

The original Lucifer didn't have a gender,

so merely getting them played by human actors

is technically gender-swapping them either way.

What we wanted was the quality

that the Lucifer in the comic has.

An androgyny based around early David Bowie.

Bowie when he was a curly-haired folk singer with a perm.

We wanted somebody imposing

who you would actually believe

could intimidate Morpheus

and she does it just by being incredibly sweet

and you are always certain that she is

far and away the most dangerous person

on the screen at any point.

I have dreams in Hell.

[daunting music]

Her wings are practical with VFX augmentation.

We made real wings,

seven-foot-high wings that she's wearing,

and then we augmented them with CGI

to make them flutter as she did.

We have two beloved characters.

We have Cain, who is the caretaker of the House of Mystery

and we have Gregory the Gargoyle.

Both long-established DC Comics characters

that I took over and incorporated into Sandman

with an enormous amount of love.

I stole a lot of things when I was building Sandman.

The idea that Cain and Abel,

essentially, the caretakers of the houses

of secrets and mystery,

were the same Cain and Abel who had murdered each other

in the Bible.

That wasn't me, that was Alan Moore

in an ancient issue of Swamp Thing.

And I'd loved that idea.

I loved the idea that these are entities

who lived in dreams and looked after stories

and I lifted that completely,

and then just built on it

over the 75 issues of Sandman.

Cain is played by Sanjeev Bhaskar,

and I don't know where the casting people

found a full-sized, adult gargoyle,

the gargoyle they got to play Gregory,

delivers, I think, the performance of a lifetime.

I thought about giving up.

And there is Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death.

She is Dream's big sister.

Somebody who can speak truth to him,

she can tell him what's going on.

So what's interesting here is

we took the Death dialog from the original comic,

but we also went into a short story that I'd written

called Winter's Tale,

which was illustrated by the astonishing

Jeffrey Catherine Jones.

And so, Death gets to talk not only

about being current joyous Death

who understood what they did,

but also she gets to talk about what it was like

when she had to come to terms with that.

When I was writing the comic,

I wanted a Death who would be there at the end,

who would turn to me and say, you know,

you really should look both ways

before you cross that street.

But who would do it with kindness.

Somebody who would be nice to meet.

There've been a lot of literary deaths.

They are scary, they are imposing.

Some of them are skeletal, some of them are gold.

I thought, I wanna make a Death who's there at the end

just to say hi, so that was the Death that I created.

Somebody nice and Kirby pulls that off so well.

Giving up.

But I have a job to do and I do it.

Things have changed.

So here, we have Mason Alexander Park

who is playing Desire

and 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, whoa.

This performance is exactly what we're looking for.

[daunting music]

Your eyes are telling me everything.

Every thought, every feeling.

Boyd Holbrook is a fabulous actor,

but has a terrible problem,

which is he doesn't actually have eyes, he has mouths.

For most parts that he plays,

he has to wear these prosthetic eyes

over his eye mouths

to cover up the fact that he doesn't have proper eyes.

Which coincidentally is what the Corinthian has.

The Corinthian is a nightmare who does not have eyes.

Who is forever seeking the eyes of others,

eating them, using his own eye mouths

and seeing what they see

and experiencing what they experience.

Boyd Holbrook, scariest man in the world.

Every feeling.

My creations do not--

Beautiful shot there of the Gates of Ivory,

the ones through which true dreams come and go.

I think the production designers and the art department

and the physical builders and everybody

went over and above on that gate.

It's astonishing.

My creations do not walk amongst the living

killing mortals for pleasure.

Oh, you don't think dreams can die.

Let's find out.

[daunting music]

There we get to see the amazing John Cameron Mitchell.

He plays Hal in the Doll House episodes.

He is the most glorious performer,

sometimes performing in drag,

and he sings and is astonishing

and there's even a glorious duet in Dreams with himself.

That is what happens when you have a demon inside somebody

trying to get out.

This is from episode three, Dream A Little Dream Of Me.

This is from the Constantine Story

and if you look really carefully,

you can see Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine

performing an exorcism.

And there, we get to see David Thewis as John Dee

destroying the Palace of Dreams.

Destroying the throne room, destroying everything.

He's burning it all down using the ruby.

In the comic, he's just standing there saying

I'm squeezing out your life and stuff

and here, he's actually doing it.

Everything is burning up around him while he's holding it.

The place that we keep going, making this,

figuring out how something that was created

as a set of still pictures with word blooms,

if we're moving and we're doing things, let's watch.

The Palace of Dream crumbling around him

as he's destroying it,

it represents destroying Morpheus' life

and destroying everything

that he's been trying to rebuild.

And we're seeing it crumble.

Nightmares do not belong in the waking world.

Turns out I fit right in.

We took the Three Witches, the three fates,

and we did it incredibly straight.

When you come to meet them in episode two,

they're those same characters.

They say the same things.

We have the maiden, we have the mother, we have the crone.

This is a moment in their initial appearance

and then they are going to visually separate

and become three and have a conversation

with Morpheus about where his lost things are.

And over on the right, we have Mark Hamill

and he is playing Merv Pumpkin Head.

And he's basically in charge of putting things up

and taking them down in the dreaming.

Very practical.

He's about as far from Lord Morpheus

as you can possibly get.

[daunting music]

[Matthew] Dreams don't fucking die.

That was Patton Oswalt saying fucking,

who is playing Matthew the Raven,

which proves that it is Patton Oswalt

in that raven costume.

Lot of people might have thought

that we got a very small raven-shaped actor,

but no, we just go Patton to do it

dressed as a raven very convincingly

and you notice him 'cause he's swore.

[daunting music]

♪ Mr Sandman ♪

It's so strange.

I started writing Sandman in 1987,

so watching things that have taken 36 years

between conception and writing

and what's happening now, it's unbelievable.

What's most unbelievable for me

is how incredibly faithful it is

and listening to lines that I wrote over three decades ago.

So it took a long time to get here

but if we tried to get here earlier,

we wouldn't have had this,

where we can actually make Sandman properly

and people let us, and we have.

[daunting music]