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How The Sandman’s Lucifer compares to Tom Ellis's version

Neil Gaiman is bringing the character closer to their comic book roots.

Lucifer star Tom Ellis and The Sandman actor Gwendoline Christie
Netflix
Published: Friday, 5th August 2022 at 8:01 am
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Lucifer Morningstar has finally returned to our screens in Netflix's long-awaited adaptation of The Sandman.

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However, this time the helluish character looks quite different from their previous foray into live-action.

The Lord of Hell became a fan-favourite over a five-year period in which they were portrayed by the British actor Tom Ellis (Miranda, EastEnders) in the romantic crime-drama Lucifer, which came to an end last year.

Fans of that TV series would be forgiven for not realising that Lucifer had anything to do with The Sandman universe, given how it considerably diverged from the source material - but the light-hearted series is technically classed as a spin-off from Neil Gaiman's fantasy epic.

Now though, a new star has taking over the role for a version that will adhere much more closely to the source material, with Gaiman himself explaining to RadioTimes.com why Tom Ellis was not cast for The Sandman on Netflix. Read on for details.

Who plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman on Netflix?

Gwendoline Christie speaks onstage during "The Sandman" special video presentation and Q&A panel during 2022 Comic Con International: San Diego
Gwendoline Christie during The Sandman panel at 2022's San Diego Comic Con Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Gwendoline Christie plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman on Netflix.

The actress has some major genre credentials from her former roles as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and Captain Phasma in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

When Christie's casting was announced, some complained that they didn't understand why the character's gender had been changed, but she explained Gaiman's thought process in an interview with Empire Magazine.

"Neil clarified that Lucifer is a fallen angel, and that an angel doesn’t have gender at all,” said Christie. “And I can play androgynous. We know that from Game Of Thrones, due to the way I look. So I hope that has helped in the portrayal of the character."

Gaiman has been praised for defending his cast from attacks on social media, emphasising that any nasty comments are coming from only a vocal minority.

"It’s not a backlash," he began in a tweet. "When someone grumbles about Sandman being woke and they get 10 likes, and I point out they’re being idiots and get 60,000 likes there isn’t a backlash going on.

"There’s a few people grumbling performatively on Twitter and thousands of people waiting for Friday [5th August, The Sandman's release date]."

Why isn't Tom Ellis playing Lucifer in The Sandman?

Tom Ellis in Lucifer season 6
Tom Ellis in Lucifer season 6 Netflix

The previous Lucifer television series has a very passionate fanbase, some of whom called for star Tom Ellis to reprise his role in Netflix's The Sandman adaptation.

In an interview with RadioTimes.com, Gaiman said that he instead wanted to go "back to the comic", which Ellis's Lucifer had relatively little in common with.

"I love the Lucifer TV series," he said. "I got to play God, quite literally – or at least the voice of God – in the Lucifer TV series [see Season 3's Once Upon a Time]. I think what those guys do is fabulous and delightful and we are not planning to do that."

Gaiman continued: "We are planning to do something that is a whole lot more like what we did in the comic, only slightly bigger. Our Lucifer will be the Lucifer that you would have met in that comic, only not exactly because obviously the David Bowie of 1969 is no longer alive and with us and available for acting."

For his part, Ellis has made peace with moving on from Lucifer, telling Kings of Con podcast that he was ready to vacate the role after the "proper ending" that season 6 provided.

Read more: Is The Sandman set in the DC Extended Universe?

How does Gwendoline Christie's Lucifer compare to Tom Ellis?

Gwendoline Christie plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman
Gwendoline Christie plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman Netflix

As Gaiman mentioned in our interview, Gwendoline Christie's Lucifer is a more faithful translation of the comic book version, which was largely inspired by the late, great musician David Bowie.

When Christie's Lucifer appears in the show's fourth episode, fans will notice that she is rather more threatening than Ellis's cheeky and playful incarnation.

This is because we are meeting her at an earlier stage of life before she decides to abdicate the throne of Hell and open a nightclub in Los Angeles – an unconventional career path indeed.

It remains to be seen whether we could see Christie's Lucifer go down a similar narrative arc, but we wouldn't rule it out if The Sandman runs for multiple seasons.

Another character depicted in Lucifer – high-ranking demon Mazikeen – also appears in The Sandman with The Witcher's Cassie Clare taking over the role after she was played by Lesley-Ann Brandt in Lucifer.

The Sandman is available to stream on Netflix from Friday 5th August. Check out more of our Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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