Kirby Howell-Baptiste Joins ‘The Sandman’ As Death
by Erik Amaya
The face of Death on Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman has finally been revealed.
Utilizing a blog post from co-creator Neil Gaiman, the streaming giant announced additional cast members for the series on Wednesday, including Killing Eve‘s Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Morpheus’s Sister. Of course, it remains to be seen if the series will avoid using her more direct name — or even use “Morpheus” for that matter — as that conceit may not play as well in live action as it did on the page. The characters is described as “wiser, nicer, and much more sensible” than Dream himself. According to Gaiman, she was “significantly harder to cast than you might imagine (well, than I imagined, anyway). Hundreds of talented women from all around the planet auditioned, and they were brilliant, and none of them were right. Someone who could speak the truth to Dream, on the one hand, but also be the person you’d want to meet when your life was done on the other.”
Additionally, Gaiman revealed two other members of the Endless due to appear in the program’s first two seasons: Mason Alexander Park will play Desire. Gaiman described them as “everything you want, whatever you want and whoever you are” and a troublemaker for Dream. “We had barely started looking when Mason Alexander Park (they/them) reached out on Twitter, and threw their hat into the ring. We were thrilled when they got the part.” Donna Preston will play Despair, the “bleakest of the Endless.” According to Gaiman, “her performance is chilling and sad. You feel her pain.”
Other actors joining the series include Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, John’s great-great-great grandmother and an dabbler in the occult. Although the familial relationship will remain the same, it is possible she will take John’s place in a certain early story. “When we broke down the first season, given that we knew that we would be encountering Johanna in the past, we wondered what would happen if we met a version of her in the present as well,” Gaiman said. That present day story is likely the one in which John made his largest contribution to The Sandman mythos. “We tried it and the script was sparkier, feistier, and in some ways even more fun,” Gaiman continued. It’d still be nice to see Matt Ryan make a cameo appearance, but considering the difficulties in filming The Sandman over the last year, this is a workable solution.
Niamh Walsh will play Ethel Cripps, John Dee’s mother, in the past while Joely Richardson will play her in the present day. As the character was both Roderick Burgess’s lover and John Dee’s mother, she has unique role to play across two time periods in the narrative. John Dee, meanwhile, will be played by David Thewlis — the absolutely right choice for the haunted Justice League villain who tussles with Dream in the first storyline.
Gaiman also revealed cast members joining the series for “The Dolls’ House” storyline, including Kyo Ra as Rose Walker, Razane Jamma as Lyta Hall — two characters who will continue to matter in the overall Sandman story — Sandra James Young as Unity Kinkaid, Stephen Fry as Gilbert (another stunningly great choice), and Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven.
This group joins the previously announced Tom Sturridge (Dream), Gwendolyn Christie (Lucifer), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Cain), Amid Chaudry (Abel), Charles Dance (Roderick Burgess), Vivienne Acheampong (Lucienne), and Boyd Holbrook (The Corinthian). The series has not been scheduled for release, but we expect a date will be announced during Netflix’s week of geek news starting June 7th.