Neil Gaiman Reveals Why Sandman Recast Tom Ellis' Lucifer for New Netflix Series

Tom Ellis played Lucifer Morningstar in Lucifer, the network television series later saved from cancellation by Netflix. While Lucifer is now over, Netflix remains in the Lucifer business, in a way, via its upcoming adaptation of The Sandman, the beloved comic book series from Neil Gaiman. That series is where the version of Lucifer who later spun off into his own comic book series, which serves as the television series' basis, first appeared -- it's all a connected universe in the comics. Yet, Netflix cast a new Lucifer, Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, to play the character in The Sandman. On Twitter, Gaiman took the opportunity to explain why that decision was made, stating that Ellis' Lucifer, by the time his series had ended, had grown too far beyond the comics version.

"Because his Lucifer, while inspired by the Lucifer in Sandman, is so far away in terms of Sandman continuity by the end of LUCIFER, that it's easier on everyone to go back to the version in the comics," Gaiman tweeted. "And this way you don't know what our Lucifer is going to do. Tom's is lovable."

Gaiman offered a similar explanation previously. Via Tumblr, he said, "The theology and cosmogony of Lucifer is a long way from Sandman's. It's 'inspired by' Sandman, but you can't easily retrofit the Lucifer version to get back to Sandman, if you see what I mean. It seemed easier and more fun to have the Sandman version of Lucifer be, well, much closer to the Sandman version of Lucifer."

In 2021, while speaking to the press about Audible's Sandman adaptationGaiman explained that he's approaching the Netflix show as if he were writing Sandman for the first time in the 21st century. That includes updating the timeline, reconsidering certain storylines, and reimagining certain aspects of certain characters.

"[D]oing the Netflix TV series, we're very much looking at that as going, 'Okay, it is 2020, let's say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do? How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?'" he said. "For Netflix right now, people have tried making some movies and TV adaptations for 30 years, and actively tried making them for 25 years, and they've never worked. And they never worked because of all the special effects and what would be needed to do the special effects. They never worked because you were making something that was adult. People would write Sandman movie scripts, and they go, 'But it's an R-rated movie, and we can't have $100 million R-rated movies.' So, that wouldn't happen. You needed to get to a world in which long-form storytelling is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. And the fact that we have seventy-five issues of Sandman plus -- essentially, 13 full books -- worth of material, is a really good thing. It's not a drawback. It's on our side. And the fact that we're in a world in which we can take things that only existed in comic book art, and that can now exist in reality."

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The Sandman debuts on Netflix in 2022. Netflix Geeked Week will feature new details about the series when it takes place from June 6th through June 10th.