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Why Sandman Didn’t Cast James McAvoy As Dream (Despite Being Perfect)

McAvoy’s brilliant performance as Dream in Audible’s adaptation of The Sandman left many wondering why he wasn’t also cast in the Netflix adaptation.

For many long-standing lovers of The Sandman series, James McAvoy was the perfect actor for the role of Dream in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation, making it curious as to why he wasn’t cast. McAvoy’s history with fantastical novel adaptations including His Dark Materials, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and IT, as well as his familiarity with the works of The Sandman creator, Neil Gaiman, means he would have been perfect for the role. However, the Netflix series instead stars Tom Sturridge as the Sandman character of Morpheus, Dream of the Endlessleaving many to wonder why McAvoy wasn’t cast.

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McAvoy first worked on a Gaiman story in the 2013 six-part radio drama, Neverwhere, where McAvoy played the leading role of Richard Mayhew. Seven years later he was cast as the protagonist of another Gaiman adaptation, this time to play Dream in Audible’s adaptation of The Sandman. Other members of the all-star cast included Thor actor Kat Dennings as Death and Good Omens actor Michael Sheen as Lucifer. Part One of the audiobook was so successful that it became the bestselling Audible Original production in the company’s history. Part Two was released to equal acclaim and Part 3 is expected to be released soon.


Related: Sandman Already Proved Its Lucifer Casting Backlash Is Ridiculous

After McAvoy’s outstanding performance as Dream in the audiobook, it was a surprise when his name didn’t even seem to be in the running for the role in Netflix’s The Sandman. The most likely reason why McAvoy wasn’t cast is that he was just too busy. Filming for The Sandman began in mid-2020, when filming for His Dark Materials season 2, in which McAvoy plays the major role of Lord Asriel, would have still been underway. Not to mention, alongside other commitments, McAvoy was probably still in the middle of recording his part as Morpheus in the second and third parts of the Audible production. If he had been cast in the Netflix series, he would have had to deliver two versions of the same character at once, in the recording studio and on screen.


Why Tom Sturridge Was The Right Choice For Dream

Tom Sturridge as Dream in Netflix's The Sandman

Although Sturridge has a strong list of acting credits, most recently appearing alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw, he’s not yet as big a star as McAvoy— which works in his favor for this role. The wealth of storylines in The Sandman comic books means that the Netflix adaptation has the potential to run for many seasons, and McAvoy may not have been able to make such a long-term commitment. Plus, it will be interesting to see what Sturridge brings to a role of this kind since he fantastic is more frequently cast in adaptations of classics and historical dramas. Sturridge’s appearance in the trailer already shows how well he fits the dreamlike aesthetic, looking as though he stepped directly off of the pages of the comic. Despite his stellar acting chops, it would have been hard for McAvoy to convincingly portrayed the tall, lanky character of Morpheus.


In the end, it was a smart decision not to cast McAvoy again as Dream because now audiences will get to see a totally new interpretation of the character in Netflix’s The Sandman series. Just like McAvoy put his mark on Morpheus in the audiobook, Sturridge now has room to do the same in the Netflix series. But for those who are still hoping to see McAvoy portraying a Gaiman role on screen one day, it’s not impossible. Neil Gaiman is a regularly adapted author of recent years and considering that McAvoy clearly enjoys working with Gaiman’s stories, it’s not unlikely that two audiences will see the pair up again one day.


Next: The Endless Family Tree: All Of Dream’s Siblings Explained

The Sandman season 1 premieres August 5 on Netflix.

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