Neil Gaiman takes aim at online trolls over Netflix’s colour-blind casting of his comic-book adaptation, The Sandman.
During an interview with Yahoo at San Diego Comic-Con, Gaiman shared his reasons for directly responding to people complaining about the show’s “wokeness.”
These so-called fans have been critical of the casting of actors such as Black actor Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park as Desire and Gwendoline Christie, a woman, cast as the genderless fallen angel Lucifer.
“I know the rule is you’re meant to ignore the trolls and not feed the trolls,” Gaiman confessed. “But I would look at people sounding off on Sandman who were obviously not Sandman fans. What I would watch would be 60,000 Sandman fans going, ‘Of course, you’re doing it this way. Of course, you have a non-binary Desire. Desire was always non-binary. That’s brilliant casting.’ Or ‘Gwendoline as Lucifer, what amazing casting.’ And then you’d get five or six people trying to make a lot of fuss who never read Sandman in the first place. And I mostly decided I was done with it.”
Gaiman added that while he sometimes feels he should ease up on his retorts, he thinks his general response is justified given how hard the cast and crew have worked on the show. “Occasionally, I do feel like I’m taking an enormous sledgehammer to squash the tiniest ants, and you really shouldn’t,” he said. “But then again, they can be really irritating sometimes, and I’m proud of what we made.”
The cast of The Sandman expressed their love for how Gaiman constantly stands up for them, noting that creators don’t often defend changes to their original works.
Park said, “He’s one of the greatest living authors of all time, and just the fact that we are adapting this in a time where he’s not only completely ingrained in it and completely getting his DNA on every single frame of it, but that he can clap back at people when they say certain things that aren’t necessarily in line with the original context. It’s really nice because you don’t often get that.”
Christie says she wrote to Gaiman after hearing about his passionate defence of his cast.
“I wasn’t even aware of any of this until a few weeks ago,” the Game of Thrones actor admits. “But I have to say, I wrote to Neil to thank him when I found out that he’d been standing up for us and trying to protect us. And I’m very moved by the love and responsibility he feels for his co-creators. And I appreciate it with all of my heart. I know we all do.”
“As an actor in this, and Neil just having our backs, and just believing in us and believing in this, makes it even more amazing,” says Vivienne Acheampong, who plays Lucienne.
The Sandman premieres on 5 August on Netflix.