SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 23: Vivienne Acheampong, Jenna Coleman, Mason Alexander Park, Tom Sturridge, Patton Oswalt, Vanesu Samunyai, Boyd Holbrook, Gwendoline Christie, Neil Gaiman, Allan Heinberg and Kirby Howell-Baptiste stop by the Netflix booth featuring "The Sandman" at San Diego Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Netflix)
Movies - TV
Why The Sandman Transformed John Constantine Into Johanna Constantine
Spoiler Warning!
This story contains spoilers for
"The Sandman."
Comic fans can be picky regarding accurate casting for characters from their favorite series. When the Netflix adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” announced the casting of several gender-swapped characters, none were as curious as Jenna Coleman’s Johanna Constantine, an alternate version of the beloved DC character, John Constantine.
Some fan theories accused it of “woke casting,” pointing out the other gender-swapped characters, while others believe it to be a licensing issue — but Gaiman’s concern is storytelling. While John Constantine isn’t one of the author’s creations, Johanna is, giving him more creative control over the character.
Practicality was another reason, as Gaiman and series screenwriter Allan Heinberg thought it would make more sense to have one performer play both ancestor and descendent. Since Lady Johanna met Dream in a pub centuries before the series began, and they wanted a “classy actress to portray her,” Heinberg says that they're "going to have to give that actress more to do than just meet him once in a pub.”
Gaiman revealed that choosing to cast a woman in the role came early in development as it “just sort of seemed to make sense.” The author has nothing but praise for Coleman’s performance, saying, “I think Jenna is the best Constantine on screen so far, and weirdly somehow the truest, because she both has the humor, and the attractiveness, and that sleazy, doomed quality.”