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The Sandman « wonderchroma
The Sandman

The Sandman

Casting Call


This is the first installment in a series of columns in which wonderchroma staff cast movies that either haven’t been made or are in the pre-casting stages of development. To suggest a film for Casting Call, email

If someone can take the “unfilmable” Watchmen and turn it into a blockbuster franchise without completely destroying the source material (sorry, SQUID) it stands to reason that just about any comic book is doable. I’m fairly certain graphic geeks will soon see just about every major hero and villain of Marvel and DC lore rendered on the Silver Screen, but I’m feeling especially ambitious. I’d like to see something something darker and more subtle. Something more in the vein of Watchmen. It’s time for The Sandman: The Movie.

Neil Gaiman, the title’s creator, has been on a roll lately. He wrote the books upon which Coraline and Stardust were based. He also penned the scripts for Princess Mononoke and Beowulf – the latter a collaboration with Roger Avary. With so much Hollywood exposure, you would think that a The Sandman movie would be in production by now.

Sadly, the project has been stagnant since the 1990’s, beset by poor scripts and disagreements. Even if The Sandman never sees the light of day, I take solace in at least imagining my dream cast — no pun intended — for the movie:


Destiny – Ben Kingsley

As he is shrouded in all the comics, Destiny’s features are difficult to pin down. But I think Kingsley has enough presence and actorly qualities to make the reserved Destiny memorable.


Death – Mia Kirshner

There are almost too many actresses who could play Death. She is by far the most popular of the Endless, save Dream. There’s actually a movie in development about her. Anyway, I’ve always thought Mia Kirshner looked haunted, which would be perfect for Death.


Dream – Lukas Haas

I know that Johnny Depp is the obvious choice here, so I gave it a lot more though and came up with Haas. His nose isn’t as angular as Dream’s, but everything else about him is very Morpheus. And he isn’t a huge star, so his casting wouldn’t be distracting.


Destruction – Gerard Butler

Butler is easily the biggest name on this list, but I think he would be great as Destruction. Just as long as he didn’t channel Leonidas too strongly. Destruction is jovial in the comics, so Butler’s performance would have to be adjusted with that in mind.


Desire – Tilda Swinton

This was the easiest one. No one looks quite like Tilda Swinton. She has perplexing features that would suit the androgynous Desire. She also emits a sinister, conniving air, which would fit in with a number of Sandman story arcs.


Despair – Fairuza Balk (via Gollum-esque performance capture)

I’ve had a soft spot for Balk ever since The Craft. Her features are intense and vivid. I imagine her face would create a great Despair, though her body would have to be conjured via CGI as Despair was obese and nude in the comics. If they can do Benjamin Button, they can do anything.


Delirium – Olivia Thirlby

As with Death, there are so many options when it comes to Delirium. She is the youngest of the Endless — flighty, spirited and distracted. While I haven’t seen Thirlby in very many movies, she came across memorably in Juno, so I thought it’d be great to spotlight her again here.

If Watchmen proved one thing it’s that even a cast of relative unknowns can work, if the source material is strong enough. With The Sandman, source material isn’t a question. And given the success of Coraline, Stardust and Gaiman’s other Hollywood contributions, you’d have to assume a certain measure of greatness for this story’s adaptation. Add a cast such as the one above and you’ve got film fantasy gold. Just don’t give it the SQUID treatment.

By Efrem Rodriguez


  1. toure says:

    Great Cast!

    Strange that I would run across your site; I’ve been thinking on this also. Yours is definitely one of the best cast lists I’ve seen for Sandman.

    Thanks for not putting Depp in the main role; I think he’s amazing, but I honestly don’t see Johnny Depp as Dream at all. Luke Haas has the youth and the slightly off-putting vibe that makes Dream just a bit strange… I’d love to see Butler as Destruction, and Thirlby as Delirium (perfect!). Well done.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi! Great idea. But my first choice for Death would be Lucy Liu - if she manages not to be too cute.
    What about Tori Amos for Delirium - insn’t she her twin anyway?
    And what about Marianne Sägebrecht for Despair? Great actrice, perfect looks for the part…
    I would love to see Gérard Depardieu as Destruction, but he is too old for that part now - pity.
    But Tilda Swinton is definitly not to top as Desire - just perfect.
    Best regards from Germany,
    (just a fan of sandman and films)

  3. pan witchking says:

    i think you chose the cast wisely. actors who have been in to many movies or have to much star appeal tend to ruin these more esoteric projects. if johnny depp were to play dream i do not think i would see it his characters have become a bit monotonous. although i think gerard butler is still flexable enough to play destruction. i always love how gaimen always makes sure the conversion from lititure to cinema is smooth and concise, and that it captures the spirit of the original story: i.e. mirrormask, coraline, neverwhere, and stardust all fantastic books and amazing movies.

  4. Tamora says:

    Death looks more like Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and Dream looks more like Robert Smith from The Cure to me!

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  6. Arisha says:

    Nice post. I’d choose the same actors for Destruction and Desire. I think I don’t know the girl you’d choose to play Delirium, but I love how she looks like Delirium in those specific pics: smile, eyebrowns even the nose and, of course, the fresh young shine in her eyes. I love it. :)

  7. JC says:

    Watchmen, the movie, was one of the worst comic based films i’ve ever seen. Alan Moore was right, it was imposible to make a Watchmen film. I can’t believe someone could like the film after reading the comic. It was just terrible movie. It would be the same with the Sandman

  8. Gary Leach says:

    Strange that I would run across your site;
    I have read the Sandman when I was a boy,
    I have a grim reaper tattoo on my left leg.
    It is exactly the same as the image above,
    Circa 1989 via Neil G, Vertigo. Jack Kirby and Ernie Chua?

    By anon Mr E of Dark Horse

    Bethan Burgess my daughter drew a picture of Delirium age 5 and I share my action figure it is not my toy but our toy.

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