John Cameron Mitchell explains why he agreed to star in Neil Gaiman’s Netflix series “The Sandman”, which will air later this year.
John Cameron Mitchell discusses his future role in Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”, as well as why he decided to take the job. Mitchell rose to notoriety after as Joe Exotic in Netflix’s Joe vs. Carole, based on Tiger King. Mitchell is most known for writing Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Mitchell is also recognized for directing the films Shortbus and Rabbit Hole, as well as his LGBTQ+ activism.
“The Sandman“, based on Neil Gaiman’s comic of the same name, follows Dream (Tom Sturridge) as he attempts to restore order to the realm of Dreaming after escaping from an occult ceremony. An adaptation of the series has been in development purgatory since 1991, with a slew of producers and stars involved before Netflix committed to make it in 2019, with a late 2022 release date. Gaiman will co-write the premiere episode of “The Sandman”, as well as maybe more as the series progresses.
Mitchell explains why he took on the job in an interview with Collider, saying it’s because he gets to perform some of Mama Rose’s songs from the famous musical Gypsy. He goes on to remark that while the character isn’t particularly significant, he enjoys having the opportunity to perform it. He also expresses his desire to take on the role of Mama Rose on stage. Read the whole of his quote below:
“Sandman” is a smaller role in a cast of thousands. The reason I did it is because the character gets to sing songs from Gypsy. I get to do my Mama Rose, three songs from it, and now I wanna play it on stage. I’m more of a service role in that, which is the usual role for the gay actor and the gay role. It’s usually the best friend, or the snappy comeback best friend. The Black woman and the gay man get those roles a lot right, as the confident, snappy comeback person, which I’ve paid the bills on, but it can get pretty weary and pretty annoying. With Joe, and originally with Hedwig, there are queer roles that are front and center, with warts and all. It’s not that they need to be positive images, because every person is positive and negative, and it’s boring to play someone who’s just one thing. We all have layers. Outsiders and queer people know that life is made of layers and nuance. It’s only when you’re in charge that you think things are what they are. You get literal-minded when you’re in charge. If you’ve been underneath, you know that there’s a lot of layers to life, and that can be an advantage, as an artist.
Mitchell also discusses his part in Joe vs. Carole and how, as a secondary character in “The Sandman”, it’s crucial to have LGBT characters in more key roles. He also discusses how queer characters shouldn’t just be role models because everyone has positive and negative characteristics, which is what drew him to Exotic in the first place. Mitchell isn’t expected to have a major role in “The Sandman”, and his character’s identity hasn’t been disclosed. It’s plausible, based on his words, that he’ll play Gaiman’s androgynous character Desire, who is gender-fluid in his works.
Mitchell’s contributions to the stage speak for themselves in terms of increasing LGBT exposure and visibility. He produced an icon of LGBT performance and musical theater history in general with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so it’s fantastic to see this work continue on increasingly popular television series. With Joe vs. Carole and “The Sandman”, he should be able to expand his audience and get fame beyond the fans he’s had for years. Despite the fact that he may not feature much in “The Sandman”, considering his enthusiasm for the role, it’s probable that whoever he portrays in the sequel will offer a remarkable performance. When Gaiman’s long-awaited Netflix adaptation finally arrives, it will undoubtedly be the dark and gorgeous adaptation that many fans have hoped for, complete with a killer ensemble that will breathe new life into “The Sandman”.