Neil Gaiman Already Knows Who Should Play Dream's Son In Sandman

Now that "The Sandman" has dropped its excellent bonus episode, fans are anxiously awaiting news of the show being picked up for a second season. Netflix has yet to make a decision unfortunately, but that hasn't stopped creator Neil Gaiman and showrunner Allan Heinberg from plotting season 2 and beyond. Both previously touched on which comic arcs they were most excited to tackle and Heinberg's in particular, were further down the line than even season 2 would likely get.

"The Sandman" bonus episode, which adapted "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" and "Calliope," introduces the titular Muse, but also reveals that not only were Dream (Tom Sturridge) and Calliope (Melissanthi Mahut) once married, but they also had a son together. Not much is said, though we know some tragedy befell him, resulting in a terrible falling out between his parents. The episode makes some incredibly smart changes, especially to Calliope's story, that really make this adaption sing. The show has yet to be renewed, but Gaiman and Heinberg are already planning for Orpheus' arrival in season 2. They've even cast him in their minds!

Orpheus on the brain

Heinberg told Variety that he and Gaiman already have an actor in mind to play Dream's son Orpheus, should "The Sandman" get picked up for another season. He said:

"I don't know if I'm allowed to say it, but we've talked about someone that we feel very strongly about. And we have had those conversations and if we get a second season, we would love to be able to cast that person. We are conceiving of the whole season with this person in mind."

It sounds promising that not only do Gaiman and Heinberg know who they want to play Orpheus, but that this person has inspired them so much in their work on season 2. Though certainly not as difficult to cast as one of the Seven Endless, Orpheus plays a pivotal role in the comics.

The first collection of "The Sandman" I ever read was "Brief Lives," drawn by the amazing Jill Thompson. It's actually Volume 7, and Orpheus' tragic tale really comes to a head — no pun intended — though that story would cause ripples that affected the whole of the series. By the end of "Brief Lives" I was sobbing, though having begun reading so far into the comics, I couldn't be quite sure of exactly why. It's still my favorite volume even if it breaks my heart.

What happened to Orpheus?

Spoilers for "The Sandman" comics follow.

What Gaiman constructed with "The Sandman" largely came from his own mind, but one of the coolest aspects of the comics is the way that the author wove his stories throughout real-life historical events and various mythologies. Much of the tale that unfolds in "Song of Orpheus" — which is in "The Sandman Special" #1 — is based on Greek myth. One main difference is that while his mother is still Calliope, in "The Sandman," Orpheus' father is Oneiros (what the Greeks called Dream). Their union somehow yielded a mortal son who had an incredible gift for music. He would eventually fall for a woman named Eurydice. However, tragedy struck on their wedding day when a series of unfortunate events led to her being bitten by a venomous snake. Eurydice died and Orpheus begged his father for help. When Oneiros refused, he sought help from his Aunt, known by the Greeks as Teleute (Death) and his uncle Olethros (Destruction).

Despite Death's warnings, Orpheus followed Eurydice to the underworld, begging Hades and Persephone to free her. His music not only charmed them, but even made the Fates weep. So, they agreed to release Eurydice and send her back on one condition: Orpheus could not turn to look at her until they had made the journey back to the world of the living. Grief-stricken and convinced Hades had played him for a fool, he turns around too soon and has to lose his love all over again.

How does his story end?

Orpheus was understandably a wreck for quite some time, having lost all desire to live. So, when the bacchanal show up, he's not exactly in the headspace to party with Dionysus' frenzied female worshippers. So, they tear him limb from limb, leaving only his head intact. Orpheus, now immortal, is condemned to live out eternity in this way. His fate in the actual myth was kinder, as he was killed by the Maenads.

What happened to Orpheus led to a huge rift between Calliope and Dream, and honestly, one of the best changes made for the Netflix series is his treatment of her, which is far more tender than his comic counterpart. Much of what I've revealed about Orpheus' story has already been spoiled for those familiar with Greek mythology, but to say any more about what transpires between him and Dream would be to ruin the series for those who've yet to embark on this journey and seriously, you need to read it!