2013 was a good year for first time actors-turned-directors. We finally saw "esteemed thespian" Keanu Reeves step behind the camera for his successful directorial debut, the martial arts drama Man of Tai Chi, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose first feature was the Jersey-based comedic romance Don Jon. Gordon-Levitt turned quite a few heads a couple of months ago when he was rumored to be directing and starring in a big screen adaptation of the classic comic series The Sandman, made most famous during Neil Gaiman’s masterful run with the character. Instead of backing away from the rumors as one might expect would happen involving such a seemingly impossible project, Gordon-Levitt finally copped to coming onto the project as a producer, and isn’t shy about expressing his joy about being involved.
The Looper actor recently sat down with IGN to talk about Sandman and that other comic adaptation Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, though he definitely had to keep it coy when it came to the former subject, saying from the get-go that they are still in the "very, very early days" of trying to turn this epic story into a film. In fact, he still isn’t saying whether he’ll be directing or starring, saying there’s "lots of potential, but it’s still very early."
What he definitely confirmed is his love for Gaiman’s work, and the dedication he will end up giving this film, even if it ends up being confined to producer duties. "I love just the basic concept of it," he said. "just the concept of personifying Dream, along with all of his brothers and sisters…I mean, that’s just a fascinating and, I think, a really cinematic concept." But rather than the explosive and action-packed concepts that directors latch onto in superhero comics, Gordon-Levitt doesn’t want Sandman to "get stuck in a rut" like modern film spectacles tend to do.
"Sandman has so much opportunity to do something that’s on a grand, grand scale," he went on, "but really unlike your average big, grand-scale spectacular movie. I guess that’s the tip of the iceberg." (Let it be known that he used the word spectacular three times.) This is exactly the point of view one needs to have when creating the abundantly atmospheric world of Morpheus and the Dreaming. The story doesn’t need any additional action, but the sets need to look absolutely amazing and require ambition as well as skill.
While he couldn’t even confirm if the film will take place during the initial "Preludes and Nocturnes" arc of Gaiman’s series, in which Dream breaks free from his prison (among other things), we know that Gordon-Levitt will be working with David S. Goyer on it, though another screenwriter will reportedly be hired at a later date. Goyer is admittedly the only thing I have against this project, but his occasional success is something to hope for here.
Given Gordon-Levitt’s involvement relies more on fandom than financial aspirations, it makes me all the more excited to see this project getting made. If you have the time, take a look below at Gaiman talking with artist and writer Chip Kidd on the 20th anniversary of The Sandman’s first publication. Maybe you can put it on when you fall asleep, to keep Dream interested.