James McAvoy Explains His Approach to Playing Morpheus in Audible’s Sandman Series
Audible has put together an impressive voice cast for it’s upcoming audio drama based on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, including James McAvoy as Morpheus. Because of the book’s iconic reputation, there’s a lot riding on McAvoy’s performance. Fortunately, it sounds like he did his homework while crafting his take on the Lord of Dreams. During a recent press roundtable (via CBR), McAvoy discussed how he tailored his voice to reflect Morpheus’ detachment from mortals.
“He definitely had to be not human, he definitely had to be something different,” said McAvoy. “He doesn’t understand the human experience, and yet, he serves the human experience; he’s very connected to and a part of the human experience. He provides a vital need for humanity.”
However, McAvoy added that he didn’t want to “fall into the trap of sort of playing Spock” and make Morpheus completely aloof because this wouldn’t make for an interesting translation. Instead, he chose to accentuate Morpheus’ inner turmoil after escaping his imprisonment.
“And those are all things I think we can relate to as human beings,” continued McAvoy. “Those are experiences, emotions and contexts we can identify with. So even though he’s very, very different, he’s going through a fairly relatable human experience as well so there’s going to be growth and self-realization for him that still, in some way, allows me to be connected to him even though he’s this other thing.”
It also helps that McAvoy happens to be a huge fan of Gaiman’s work. In fact, McAvoy previously lent his voice to a radio drama based on Neverwhere that also featured Benedict Cumberbatch and Natalie Dormer. Dirk Maggs directed both Neverwhere and Audible’s Sandman adaptation; which helped convince McAvoy to sign on. Regardless, his admiration for Gaiman’s story was evident.
“Me, personally, what I love about Gaiman’s writing are these strange, fantastical worlds,” added McAvoy. “But actually characters that you can identify with, even if they are the Lord of the Dream Realm and so strangely not human. There’s something that just compels you and brings you into them as he’s creating weird adventures. The other thing is a lot of Neil’s stories are classic narratives but [The Sandman is] more episodic. Each week is a new adventure almost and there’s something really fun about that. You get all these other really amazing characters in different situations every single week and that’s really fun too.”
Audible will premiere their first Sandman installment this Wednesday, July 15.
Are you excited to hear McAvoy bring Morpheus to life in the new series? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes 30th Anniversary Edition