Tom Sturridge and Vivienne Acheampong talk The Sandman, Morpheus, and Lucienne

by W. Andrew Powell

The Sandman is Netflix’s new fantasy series, based on Neil Gaiman’s epic comic books from the 1990s, and it’s a fantastic, smart, and moody journey into the source material that creates something new and riveting.

Writer Neil Gaiman’s iconic stories about Morpheus, Death, Desire, and The Endless capture the look, and more impressively, the feel, of the comic books in a way that’s surprising.

Tom Sturridge stars as Morpheus, the master of The Dreaming, his kingdom where humanity visits when they sleep, with Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, his second in command and the one who cares for his library of stories. His order is thrown into chaos though when Morpheus is captured by a group of occultists.

The series if filled with characters from the original comic books, including Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie in a jawdropping scene as Lucifer Morningstar opposite Morpheus, and Sturridge had a lot to say about working with her for the scene.

Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar, Tom Sturridge as Dream, Cassie Clare as Mazikeen
Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar, Tom Sturridge as Dream, Cassie Clare as Mazikeen

“She is such an extraordinary human, Gwendoline. She’s so exquisitely intelligent and funny,” Sturridge said. “And in being a very powerful presence, regardless of whether she is embodying Lucifer or not… when I walked on set and she was in that costume and had those enormous wings, which were practical and real, it was kind of awe inducing and inspiring and frightening and weirdly seductive.”

“Lucifer is incredibly sexy, and we found a kind of undercurrent of mutual respect, I think, within the characters. I mean, these two powerful beings who rarely come up against creatures of parity, and it was utterly thrilling to do that scene with her.”

There is no Dreaming, and no Morpheus as the ruler though, without Lucienne, who helps maintain the Dreaming for 100 years when Morpheus is captured by humans.

“First and foremost, there is a hierarchy that he’s the boss, officially, but I mean, I’ve been told that I’m the boss as well,” Acheampong said. “I think what is really seen is she is loyal–loyal to a fault almost–she believes in the Dreaming.”

“She understands how important it is, how sacred it is. This is where people are going to dream, no matter who you are. It doesn’t discriminate. And she understands the important work of Morpheus. This is, to her, the most important part of what he does, and he feels everyone so deeply. So she does understand that [he has] to contain himself so the world isn’t in total chaos.”

“He needs to have these rules and regulations, but because he’s been imprisoned in this inhumane and brutal way for a century, he has come back even more complex and hardened, but she knows who he is.”

Tom Sturridge as Dream
Tom Sturridge as Dream

“So she very gently guides him. She’s his conscious. She brings him back to who she knows he is so he can carry out this important work, and she wants to support him in restoring the dreaming. It’s her greatest honour, and to be by his side as he does this.”

And as far as a moral to the story goes, as an actor Sturridge tries not to imagine what that might be. “I think it is sort of antithetical to trying to living in the present which I think is one of the key things of what I’ve heard said about acting,” he said.

“But what I do know is that he certainly evolves throughout the story and changes.”

“He, as Vivienne said, is incredibly hardened and vengeful after his imprisonment, but the fact that he is vulnerable because he has lost his power, it makes him the closest to human that maybe he’s ever been. And almost more importantly, the fact that he has to ask humans for help means that he must begin to start to think about how they think.”

“Which, over the course of the story, opens a fissure inside of him, [and] leads to potentially a more empathetic and feeling being.”

Tom Sturridge as Dream, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne
Tom Sturridge as Dream, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne

The Sandman premieres on Netflix August 5. Watch the full interview below and watch our interview with Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Mason Alexander Park on YouTube.
Images courtesy of Netflix.

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