Due to the fact that he had previously been in development hell for a long time, the fact that The Sandman will premiere at all is a pleasant surprise. But perhaps this atmosphere of surprise surrounding the project somehow evaporated during the casting for the lead role, Dream. As Neil Gaiman noted in an interview Entertainment Weekly, the audition process did not go as expected on many levels. First, as he told the publication, Tom Sturridge was one of the first 10 people to audition for the role, and it was shocking that Gaiman felt he had found the perfect candidate so quickly. But one thing did go according to plan, as Gaiman knew he would have to watch a few more auditions before settling on Sturridge. He just didn’t expect such a huge number.
As Gaiman continued in an interview, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sandman creator had to view more than 1,500 Dream streams. However, there were a few silver linings from the whole trial. Notably, other auditions did little to stop Gaiman from casting Sturridge. “…But what was really cool was that after watching all this, we were able to go to Netflix and say that this is Tom. We know it’s Tom,” Gaiman told EW. In addition, he acknowledged that while other listeners were moving forward, Warner Bros. paid Sturridge not to take on any other acting gigs.