Film and television makers have fought for decades to bring Neil Gaiman's popular DC series The Sandman to the screen—and as soon as the ball began rolling for its Netflix makeover, Hedwig and the Angry Inch co-creator John Cameron Mitchell knew he'd be part of it.
Mitchell and Gaiman's history dates back to 2017 when the Tony winner directed the star-studded movie adaptation of Gaiman's sci-fi short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties. Mitchell says, "We're buddies and we've done shows together. When this came up, it was just an offer, 'Would you like to do this?'"
All ten episodes of The Sandman premiered August 5 on Netflix. Gaimain serves as the executive producer and co-writer, along with David S. Goyer and showrunner Allan Heinberg. The series blends mythology and dark fantasy and follows the Dream King, also known as Morpheus, as he mends the mistakes made throughout his past. The show is led by Tom Sturridge (last seen on Broadway in Sea Wall/A Life) as Dream and stars Mason Alexander Park (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as Desire, Dream's sister. Mitchell plays Hal, a drag queen who abandoned his Broadway dreams and retired to the coast to operate a bed-and-breakfast, playing host to a group of unusual tenants.
Throughout his story arc, Hal belts out a few familiar show tunes and gets lost in the lavish costumes and darkness surrounding him. "This character is a version of myself if I hadn't stuck it out in New York. He talks about that. He says, 'This is not my dream, and I think I might sell and go back and try to make it work.' There are echoes of my own life in that."
Click on the video above to hear John Cameron Mitchell's full rendition of "Rose's Turn" from Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents' musical Gypsy, accompanied by Leo Munby as the music director and pianist.
"I got the approval of Patti LuPone on my performance when I sent her my takes," shares Mitchell, whose other Broadway credits include Big River, Six Degrees of Separation, and The Secret Garden. "I asked her to play Hedwig once, when we were on Broadway and we were looking for the next people. She really loved it. She would come see it a lot, but we closed before she got to a decision. I think she might have. She always says her first love is rock but she never had a voice for it."
He continues, "When I made Hedwig, Broadway couldn't handle Hedwig. It wasn't a money-making or a commercial decision. In fact, many friends said it was career suicide."
When it comes to Mitchell's final takeaway from filming The Sandman, he says one thing: "I learned that I want to play Mama Rose. So someone, please get it together. I'm ready."