'Sandman' Star Tom Sturridge Explains Why It Was 'Frightening' To Be Dream

Tom Sturridge found it "frightening" portraying Dream in Netflix's The Sandman because of fan expectations and how much he reveres the comics that were created by Neil Gaiman, the actor told Newsweek.

The actor takes on the role of Dream of the Endless, the protagonist of Gaiman's original work who finds himself captured by a human for over a century and must later rebuild his realm, find his tools and undo the damage done as a result of his captivity.

For Sturridge, the prospect of taking the part was "enormously daunting" and it was only thanks to Gaiman's reassuring presence on set that he was able to feel less afraid.

'The Sandman' Star Tom Sturridge Explains How 'Frightening' It Was Playing Dream

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Tom Sturridge as Dream in "The Sandman." The actor spoke to Newsweek about how "frightening" he found taking on such an iconic role. Liam Daniel/Netflix

It is obvious how much Sturridge loves and respects Gaiman's iconic comic books from the way he speaks about them, with his passion shining through when he refers to the series as a "masterpiece" and one of "the most important pieces of literature" from the past three decades.

Fans will no doubt agree with the actor's sentiment and, once the show is released on Netflix on August 5, also see how Sturridge's love for the comics is reflected in his onscreen performance, despite him feeling "cripplingly afraid" of not doing the character justice while in the role.

"It was enormously daunting, it was frightening even," Sturridge told Newsweek of playing Dream. "Frightening because I am one of the people who regards this [comic book series] so highly, I care about it intensely, it's so important to me as a piece of literature.

"I think it's one of the most important pieces of literature of the last 30 years, so I understand intimately what the legion of people who care about it feel, because I'm one of them.

"And I did feel a burden of responsibility, realizing the Dream that I know, that they've already had [and imagined on] film. I know that we've all made it already in our heads, and I just wanted to do justice to those Dreams."

For the actor, it was the fact that Gaiman was involved with the show, and his casting, from the get-go that helped him put those fears aside.

"The thing that stopped making it frightening was Neil, because he was there all the time, from my first audition till, well he's in the next room, so till now. Genuinely he's just there [Sturridge points to the next room].

"And, so, ultimately, if you love Sandman, what you're loving is the soul of Neil Gaiman and when that soul is beside you, guiding you, then I felt some form of security, or at least I felt slightly less cripplingly afraid."

On Remaining Loyal to Neil Gaiman's Comic Books

Sturridge's fears of playing a role as iconic as Dream aside, fans will no doubt see that the actor is a perfect fit for the character and they will likely also enjoy how loyal the Netflix show remains to Gaiman's groundbreaking series.

"It was just the most important thing for us," Sturridge told Newsweek of the adaptation. "I mean, that the people who made this show are... One of them is Neil Gaiman [but] the rest of us are such enormous fans of Sandman that in doing anything other than trying to loyally recreate it would have been criminal.

"But, at the same time, I think there are two things: One is that it's not a period piece. Neil wanted it set in the present day and that by its very nature changes things.

"It's nothing dramatic, but if you put these characters into the modern world, things are going to happen, which I think is exciting, because as fans of Sandman we also want to be surprised.

"And then the other thing is, I think Neil asked himself the question, 'I'm literally making Sandman again, and I'm starting today, do I want to do anything differently?' And the answer is pretty much no, because Sandman is an utter masterpiece.

"But, it's important for me to sort of share with the fans [that] any changes that have happened are changes where Neil went, 'I think I would have preferred to have done this actually if I really thought about it back then.'

Tom Sturridge's Favorite Scene in 'The Sandman'

The Sandman follows Sturridge's Dream on a pretty epic journey, one in which he has encounters with characters from Lucifer Morningstar (Gwendoline Christie), the ruler of Hell, to exorcist Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), to many more.

And when asked if he had a particular favorite moment, Sturridge explained that, as well as working with Vivienne Acheampong's Lucienne, he also loved the work he and Kirby Howell-Baptiste did in "The Sound of Her Wings," an episode which sees Dream spend time with his sister Death as she helps ferry souls to the afterlife.

"It's hard to choose and, obviously, every moment of Lucienne is a special moment," Sturridge said as he reached out and held co-star Acheampong's hand during the interview. "The thing that comes to mind, instinctively, is Episode 6 with my sister.

"There's so many levels of formality in the way that Dream interacts with other characters, whether it's because of his position of office or because of the context they're in, or simply because he is so much more powerful than them that [...] the disparity is too great for them to have any kind of true empathy between each other.

"Whereas, with his sister, she's the only person who, not only they have parity of power, but who understands him and they can talk to each other as equals.

"We actually shot that [last], that was the last thing we shot and Kirby, who plays Death, is such an extraordinary actress it was such a pleasure just to walk around London and just talk when for so long, you're dealing with so much and [Dream is] having to sort of hold it all together and to be at his most open [with Death] it was a magical thing to play."

Howell-Baptiste was similarly full of praise for her co-star when asked about the episode they starred in together, saying of Sturridge: "Tom was the only person I worked with, and it was just really, really easy.

"We were quite comfortable very quickly and all of that lends itself to the relationship that we have as siblings."

The Sandman premieres on Netflix on Friday, August 5.

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The cast of "The Sandman."