Netflix’s The Sandman finally becoming a reality was a decade-long endeavor full of stops and starts. And apparently one of those almosts involved Michael Jackson starring in the Neil Gaiman adaptation in the late 1990s.
As Variety noted, Gaiman told a story on a podcast appearance in the aftermath of the show’s success on Netflix. Airing decades after the book’s release, the show has received high praise to say the least. But it could have been a completely different work if one early plan for the project ever came to fruition.
Gaiman appeared in the Happy Sad Confused podcast earlier this month and revealed that the biggest pop star in the world wanted to be in an early version of the now Netflix hit.
“By 1996, I was being taken to Warners, where the then-president of Warner Bros. sat me down and told me that Michael Jackson had phoned him the day before and asked him if he could star as Morpheus in ‘The Sandman,’” Gaiman said on Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. “So, there was a lot of interest in this, and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels, and what did I think? And I was like, ‘Ooh.’”
Jackson did once turn to sand on television, so that all does kind of check out I suppose. But it obviously never came to be. For one, Jackson was touring around the world and at the apex of his music career. But the main reason is that an on-screen adaptation of The Sandman took decades to make after a series of stops and starts. Gaiman, for one, even tanked a bad script in development by leaking the details to an industry blog.
It’s unclear why exactly Jackson’s whims were not met here, but given everything that came after that phone call it’s probably for the best Gaiman bided his time and the show was made as it was.