More Big Names Join Netflix’s Dark Fantasy Adaptation ‘The Sandman’

Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Jenna Coleman, Patton Oswalt
Frazer Harrison;Michael Loccisano;Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

The cast continues to grow for Netflix’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman as the show adds a dozen actors to its already impressive ensemble.

Patton Oswalt and The Serpent‘s Jenna Coleman join the dark fantasy drama, and Killing Eve actor Kirby Howell-Baptiste will play Death, the wiser, nicer, and more sensible sister of Dream (played by the previously announced Tom Sturridge). Also added to the starry cast are Mason Alexander Park, Donna Preston, Niamh Walsh, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, Kyo Ra, Stephen Fry, Razane Jammal, and Sandra James Young.

Gaiman, whose beloved comic book the series is based on, said that casting Death, in particular, was a challenging task. “Hundreds of talented women from all around the planet auditioned, and they were brilliant, and none of them were right,” he said. “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. And then we saw Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s audition and we knew we had our Death.”

The new additions to the cast join the previously announced Sturridge, Game of Thrones alum Gwendoline Christie and Charles Dance, Vivienne Acheampong (The Witches), Boyd Holbrook (The Fugitive), Asim Chaudhry (People Just Do Nothing), and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Unforgotten).

Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman will be “a rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven.” The story follows the people and places affected by the Dream King, Morpheus, as he attempts to fix the cosmic (and human) mistakes he’s made during his vast existence.

Park and Preston play Desire and Despair, respectively, brother and sister of Dream. Coleman stars as occultist adventurer Johanna Constantine in a performance Gaiman describes as “tough, brilliant, tricky, [and] haunted.” The character Ethel Cripp, the love of Dance’s Roderick Burgess, is played in the past by Walsh and in the present by Richardson. Fargo alum Thewlis, meanwhile, plays Ethel’s mad son John Dee.

The Doll’s House portion of the series, which is the second big Sandman storyline, tells the story of Ra’s Rose Walker, a young woman on a desperate search for her missing brother. Fry plays Rose’s debonair protector Gilbert, while Jammal stars as Rose’s friend and travel companion, Lyta Hall. Young plays Unity Kinkaid, Rose’s mysterious benefactor. And Oswalt rounds out the new cast members as the voice of Matthew the Raven, Dream’s trusted emissary.

Speaking of Oswalt’s casting, Gaiman said, “Could we find an actor who could make you care about a dead person who was now a bird in the Dreaming… And could we find a voice performer who was also the kind of Sandman fan who used to stand in line to get his Sandman comics signed? The answer was, we could if we asked Patton Oswalt. And Patton was the first person we asked, and the first person we cast, the day before we pitched The Sandman to Netflix.

The Sandman is currently in production; Gaiman writes the series alongside David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) and Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman), the latter also serves as showrunner.