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Quint has a long chat with Neil Gaiman about STARDUST, BEOWULF, CORALINE, SANDMAN, DEATH and Comic-Con!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a nice chat I recently had with the man, the myth, the absolute legend Mr. Neil Gaiman. I’ve met Gaiman on a couple of occasions in the past… very brief encounters, really. I bumped into him at Comic-Con last year and way back when he did the English language script for PRINCESS MONONOKE he came through Austin. At the time I had a sketch book (it was later in a bag that was sitting in the front seat of a car that got broken into during a visit to LA and was taken) and Mr. Gaiman graciously sketched me an awesome Sandman. I have a new sketchbook, so maybe I’ll be able to force a pen into his hand if I do end up bumping into him again this year in San Diego. We cover a lot of stuff here. He’s an AICN fan and insisted that we get a lot of time to talk, so just about everything is talked about. STARDUST, BEOWULF, CORALINE, DEATH, SANDMAN, ANANSI BOYS, Terry Gilliam, Matthew Vaughn and even Comic-Con itself… There’s a little surprise in there for you attendees this year… Enjoy the interview!!

Neil Gaiman: Hey, Quint.

Quint: Hey, how’s it going?

Neil Gaiman: It’s good, how are you?

Quint: Doing well and a little busy… hectic as usual, but this will all look really calm by July… Comic-Con always wipes me out.

Neil Gaiman: I know what you mean.

Quint: Well, it’s this weird thing, because it’s so much fun, but it’s so busy and it has gotten so huge.

Neil Gaiman: Heck yeah, I used to make it out in previous years by train… in a way of coping with Comic-Con, it was very very stressful. I would come to Comic-Con by train and I would leave Comic-Con by train. I’d be Guest of Honor in the meantime and I’d do my work really hard for five or six days and, you know, there’s a hundred thousand people out there and they really want to talk to me and get stuff signed and I’d try to get to all hundred thousand… but you know, I work hard and I do my thing and then I get on the train to go home and I don’t talk to anybody for three days.

Quint: [Laughs] Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: And I sit down… maybe I do some writing, but mostly I sort of stand around and try to decompress and that’s always worked, except this time I get to do Comic-Con and that’s immediately followed by the STARDUST premiere on Sunday night and I go from there to end up spending three days getting interviewed.

Quint: So, you’re going to be really extra frazzled by the end of it?

Neil Gaiman: By the end, yes, I will have no brain. I will just sort of stare at people and occasionally blink, like some kind of frog.

Quint: Last year was really the first year that really overwhelmed me. I had something like twenty interviews and trying to fit in every panel I could…

Neil Gaiman: … yeah, it’s no longer the thing it was. I remember my first one had fifty two thousand people and I thought it was too big! (laughs) I think it was 1989… that’s when it was still a comic convention and now it’s sort of become a strange combination of comic convention and ultimate media extravaganza. I can’t believe I’m going to Comic-Con and the first night I’m there we were going to be screening Wednesday night… Roger Avary and I will be screening some BEOWULF for people…

Quint: That’s cool, during preview night?

Neil Gaiman: Yeah, it’ll be Wednesday night.

Quint: Sweet.

Neil Gaiman: And I cannot talk about it, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to say…

Quint: That’s fine… so are you allowed to say that there will be BEOWULF stuff on Wednesday night?

Neil Gaiman: I can. I can say that! Actually… you know, nobody’s told me not to say anything, so I will say what I know and then… get in trouble for it later.

Quint: Good plan.

Neil Gaiman: As far as I know, what we have done is we have a four hundred seater theater. We’re not going to try and show BEOWULF to 8,000 people, but in that four hundred seat theater, we’ll be showing them probably a good twenty minutes of BEOWULF.

Quint: That’s really cool.

Neil Gaiman: …quite possibly in 3-D…

Quint: Really? When I went through the production offices, which is about two years ago now, Roger Avary was showing me all sorts of art … they hadn’t done any animation at that point, but they had gotten all the motion capture and everything and I remember thinking then, “I don’t know if it’s even possible for them to make the movie that they are trying to show me here…”

Neil Gaiman: I don’t know. I won’t know, honestly, probably until that Wednesday at Comic-Con.

Quint: I have faith in [Robert] Zemeckis and all of those guys were so incredibly talented. If anybody could pull it off, they could.

Neil Gaiman: Yeah. I’m not worried about the film; I just don’t know what it’s going to look like… two different things…. It’s all braining away inside the computers.

Quint: Well, I guess we should talk a little STARDUST here… I saw an early cut of the movie, I think right before Tribeca, and I really liked it. I was a fan of the book… I had never read the graphic novel, but I read the novel.

Neil Gaiman: It’s really just the same, but with pictures. It wasn’t a comic, but a heavily illustrated novel, so…

Quint: What I really liked about it, is that it’s a different type of fantasy, where it’s not that dwarves and elves type fantasy, but it’s kind of that romantic, magical world, like THE PRINCESS BRIDE type. You don’t really see that kind of fantasy shown very much. Is that kind of how you sat down when you wrote it? Did you have any specific goals for it?

Neil Gaiman: Yes. I wanted to write a fairytale and I wanted to write a story that felt like the kind of thing that they wrote before Tolkien.

Quint: Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: Tolkien is wonderful, I am a huge fan of LORD OF THE RINGS, but having said that it’s always been something where you look at LORD OF THE RINGS and it changed everything everybody did in fantasy ever after and what fascinated me was that period, back before 1930, where every now and then people would write fantasy… they’d write fairy stories. They’d write magical stories and those magical stories that they’d write would be… they’d be just like regular novels. It’s not like there was a fantasy shelf for the stuff to go on. They’d just write the novel, which would happen to be sort of a fairytale. That’s what my attitude was with STARDUST. I wanted to write something were it was absolutely its own thing… it was different, but it felt like a fantasy. It was always going to be a romance and I wanted it to be a romance that felt… even when I was writing it, I had the model of the old screwball comedies in my head. Sort of things like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, the idea of a couple on the road who hate each other that are going to end up eventually falling in love.

Quint: That’s cool, have you seen the movie yet?

Neil Gaiman: I have! I saw it on Sunday with an audience of 50 of my friends, which made it really fucking nerve wracking!

Quint: Yeah, because with that kind of screening, you can’t just slip out the back…

Neil Gaiman: If it would have been awful, it would have been so much worse, because it wouldn’t have just been me going “Oh my god, it’s awful,” but it would have 50 of my friends, half of whom would have been lying to me and I would have seen it in their eyes and half of whom, just don’t know how to lie about things like that. I think Kim Newman (was there), if you know Kim or have run into his stuff and he is a film critic who is very funny in fact, so it was like “Oh God.” But it was great and everybody loved it as far as I can tell and I loved it. I was just so relieved and the last version that I saw was a rough cut back in January and there were places in it where they were making sort of allowances for things, thinking “maybe that will work when they finish and add music…” You know, you sort of had to imagine things and it’s always hard to imagine things and then suddenly when that thing is actually there on the screen then now it really is a flying pirate ship. It’s beautiful. It’s funny and it’s sweet. It’s not like anything else, which made me happy. There are a few things that are kind of like PRINCESS BRIDE… but it didn’t make any money at the box office. You know what beat PRINCESS BRIDE at the box office?

Quint: No, what?

Neil Gaiman: What profoundly trumped PRINCESS BRIDE at the box office was that Dudley Moore comedy – LIKE FATHER LIKE SON…

Quint: Oh, with Kirk Cameron?

Neil Gaiman: Yep. Look, in the time in between, everybody on the planet has actually seen on DVD… on video… or on their TV… They’ve all seen PRINCESS BRIDE and fall in love with it. Nobody has seen LIKE FATHER LIKE SON…

Quint: Yeah, because…

Neil Gaiman: Because, it’s trash…

Quint: Well, that’s what sells to Hollywood execs, because their jobs are so temporary that they’re really just looking for the “right now.” They have no interest in what’s best for the studio down the line, because odds are they’re not going to be there.

Neil Gaiman: It’s so weird.

Quint: There are so many movies… like John Carpenter’s THE THING is now a classic and it was a huge failure at the box office, but how many different versions of PRINCESS BRIDE have there been now on DVD and how much money have they made, you know?

Neil Gaiman: Exactly… it’s scary…

Quint: Now was it really odd, besides sitting with 50 of your closest friends, was it odd to actually see something that you had in your brain for a long time up on a screen?

Neil Gaiman: You know, it wasn’t, because I had been there every step of the way. If I had done the thing like giving them the film and then coming into the screening three years later, it probably would have been. My mind probably would have been crumpled, but nope, I’ve been there every step of the way. I kind of learned my lesson by watching people like Alan Moore have their experiences with Hollywood and tried to avoid that and nearly wound up having a really bad experience with STARDUST. I first sold the film rights to STARDUST to Miramax back in 1998, to Bob and Harvey. I was in town, talking about PRINCESS MONONOKE, and Bob said “What are you doing currently?” and I said, “I’m about to do a book tour for this thing of mine called STARDUST,” and Bob said [In a voice similar to The Penguin] “What’s it about?” I said, “Well, it’s about this young man who is in love with the village beauty and he sees a star falling and he promises her that he will bring back that falling star and when he gets to the star, because it’s on he other side of a magical wall separating our world with the magic world, he finds that it’s not actually a glowing lump of meteorite, it’s a young lady with a broken leg and has no desire to be dragged off across the world and presented to anybody… and there are lots of things, like wicked witches after them to cut out her heart for youth and there are princes who want to get the star in order to get to the throne…” and he said [In that The Penguin voice] “I’m loving it… I’ll buy it.” So he did, that’s Bob’s way, and then he wound up spending the entire development time… they had it for two years during which they spent their entire time negotiating contracts with a production company owned by a big star who also wanted to be involved in it, so there was two years worth to negotiations and at the end of it they took it to one studio who said no and lost interest. During that time they got me to write a treatment, which I had and then they really hadn’t liked my treatment very much and they got Ehren Kruger to write a treatment, which was an awful lot like my treatment and they didn’t much like that either, so then I got the rights back. If there was one thing I was certain of it was that I wasn’t going to do that again and so I spent most of the next few years saying no to people and we got a number of beautiful ladies in the film industry who felt it could make a really good vehicle for them and I said no to them, mostly because I didn’t want it for a vehicle for anybody. I felt like if it were a vehicle for somebody, then it would break. It wouldn’t be faithful to the book… emotionally it wouldn’t be faithful to the star and that would be wrong.

Quint: Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: From there we went to a number of directors and I think a studio made noises and I just said no to people again. Meanwhile, other things had been going on. Back in 2002, Matthew Vaughn found himself producing a short film by me, called A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON and Matthew and I got along pretty well and I gave Matthew some of my stuff to read. Matthew’s wife, the lovely Claudia Schiffer, which at that point was about eight months pregnant and had a broken foot and really needed some reading material, because when you’re eight months pregnant with a broken foot… you don’t do much walking around or anything and she picked up a copy of STARDUST and she loved it and she got Matthew to read it and Matthew loved it.

Quint: And I’m sure she related it to Yvaine, hobbling around on that hurt foot at the time.

Neil Gaiman: She just kept saying it was like the fairy stories she had read as a little girl. She just loved them and, at the time, Matthew and I went off and we had lunch together with Terry Gilliam. At the time Matthew was a producer and the only person we could both think of who we liked was Gilliam. We went and had lunch with Terry and Terry basically said “I have just done BROTHERS GRIMM… I can’t go back into that territory of a fairytale world… I can’t do that.” So we sort of put it aside, come to think of it, but then by a series of accidents Matthew became a director. It really was a series of accidents, because he put together the script for LAYER CAKE for Guy Ritchie, and Guy, for whatever reason, didn’t want to do it and Matthew couldn’t find a director, so he wound up doing it for himself. Then we sort of started talking vaguely about maybe Matthew doing STARDUST, but even then we really hadn’t decided on anything. Then Matthew went off to do X-MEN 3 and a couple of weeks before he would have had to commit to it, he just decided that there were too many things wrong with X-MEN 3. Matthew really didn’t want to make that script into that film and he came home and about a week later I got a phone call, from Matthew, saying “I want to direct STARDUST.” We talked for several hours and at the end of the conversation I thought, “You know, I really like him; I really trust him…” and I do trust him. I emailed a friend of mine the other day to find out about a particular producer who had wanted to do some work with me and I said, “Is he trustworthy?” And the guy wrote back “Isn’t that rather like asking ‘is this lion a vegetarian?’” (laughs) You know, the thing about Matthew that I liked is his word is his bond. He’s absolutely trustworthy and to the point where our deal on STARDUST was a genuine … kid’s do not try this at home – do not do as I did – do as I say – for God’s sake, never do this… because it was a free option. It was an “Ok you want to do it? Ok, I trust you, go do it” and you don’t do that. You really don’t. I mean, I would advise any young writers against doing… [laughing], except that I had known Matthew at that point for four years and I trusted him utterly and I liked him and then I went off and found the screenwriter, because I didn’t think I wanted to write that myself and BEOWULF at that time had just started happening. I can juggle careers as well as the next man, as long as the next man is a novelist who also writes movies and comic books…

[Both Laugh]

Neil Gaiman: … and children’s books and things. I also knew that I didn’t have a hope of doing all that stuff plus two movies. Also there was a part of me that really wanted a female scriptwriter and I felt like Matthew is so incredibly male and all of the stuff that he knew how to do and knew he was going to do was all very very male.

Quint: Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: If you see what I mean…

Quint: “Boys with toys…”

Neil Gaiman: Yeah, all boy stuff, like he wasn’t quite sure how to get around that side of the plot and seemed a little bit… that was a place where I could see he was less confident than anything else. I had known Jane Goldman since she was 16. I was initially a fan of her journalism, then I was a fan of her how-to book, then I was a fan of her GUIDE TO THE X-FILES and then I read her first novel and loved it and I heard that she wanted to do screenplays. Half an hour after I got off the phone with Matthew going “Ok, I’m going to find you a screenwriter…” I was speaking to her and she mentioned how she really wanted to do screenplays now and I just thought “Oh, there we go.”

Quint: Things just fell into place.

Neil Gaiman: “She’d be perfect.” I put her and Matthew together and they hit it off, as I hoped they would, and she got to write the script. It all sort of worked. So again, I guess I get a little longwinded, but I was there all the way pushing this together and helping. You know, there are ways to do it and walk away and there are also ways to do it and have very little power and control and what I was trying to do here was find people that I trusted, in this case Matthew as both a producer and a director, and then work with him as much as was appropriate and we were comfortable with. I got to, for example, check out all of the audition videos for every audition. It was put up online, I was given a password and I would go and look at them and I’d give them notes and give them ratings and go “Oh God no…” and “I think he’s amazing!” That sort of thing. I got a vote and I didn’t want it to be a casting vote, because as far as I was concerned the final decision on everything had to be Matthew’s…

Quint: Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: Since he’s, you know, making the movie, but I also really wanted my voice to be heard. Once it got to be 2005, I flew over to England and went over to Matthew’s place to stay and Jane and I read the script out loud. At that point I had a lot of input… I’d say “Don’t do that… do this. Can we lose this word? Can we change this event?”

[Rustling and barking is heard]

Neil Gaiman: I wound up being involved in the… hang on I need to get my dog…

Quint: No problem.

Neil Gaiman: I even got into things like helping find locations, which is enormously fun…

Quint: Yeah, Lorenzo di Bonaventura told me you found a magical location when I visited the pre-production offices.

Neil Gaiman: Yup, now that was the nice thing, you know, that’s the stuff you don’t often (get)… can you imagine a world in which the author of the original book gets to pick locations? It doesn’t happen like that and I was really lucky to be involved with it all the way. We wanted to shoot a lot of the stuff in Iceland, because it’s a location like nobody has ever seen before and we discovered we couldn’t take horses there and I suggested the Isle of Skye, a sort of astonishingly beautiful… it doesn’t look like anything anywhere and nobody’s filming there, so we got to go up. A lot of those really cool location scenes, like the meeting of Ditchwater Sal and Michelle Pfeiffer… that was on the Isle of Skye.

Quint: That’s cool. You were talking earlier about some of your projects… you’ve kind of learned from the mistakes of other comic authors… You had so many projects that have been in development and then out, but the one that has always fascinated me is SANDMAN. What ever came of the Roger Avary SANDMAN?

Neil Gaiman: The problem with them is there are two different kind of things that I get involved with and bare in mind, because talking as somebody who was once described by Hollywood Reporter… they did a front page story on me in 2003, which basically said I was the person who had the most things optioned and never made.

Quint: [Laughs] Yeah.

Neil Gaiman: Which was rather strange… I still thought what a strange excuse to put together (a story)… A, because I thought “it can’t actually be true” and B, because everything is just a matter of time. But that’s just how it works. You know the process of getting movies made is a very very odd one. The script to BEOWULF was written in 1997.

Quint: Did you write that with Roger [Avary] then too?

Neil Gaiman: Yeah, that was Roger… he had been fired from SANDMAN. He had gone into Warner’s and he had shown them Jan Svankmajer’s ALICE and explained the stuff in the dreaming was going to look like that and they fired him. But he and I had hit it off and he was talking on the phone and said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to do Beowulf,” but he had never figured out how to get from act 2 to act 3 and I said, “Well isn’t that obvious? You do X Y and Z.” He said, “Oh my God, do you want to write this?” and I said “Sure...” Next thing I know, we were in Mexico, so that was very [laughs] I don’t know how that worked. That was ’97 and it got shot in 2005 and it was optioned in 1998, when it all began. CORALINE… I sent that to Henry Selick when I finished writing it in about 2001 or 2002 and Henry wrote a script, before it was ever published and at that time it was going to be live-action and oddly enough he had Michelle Pfeiffer lined up at the time as the other mother. (It) would have been a really cool movie, but I have to say that I’m so much happier that in the intervening five years Henry didn’t get to make the live-action film that he had in mind then, but now he’s getting to make an amazing looking stop-motion film, because honestly, Henry’s stop-motion film looks so much cooler and you know.. It’s not that he’s a bad live-action director… he’s not. I like his live action stuff, but it’s nothing that makes me go “Oh my God, Henry Selick is an amazing director…” whereas Henry’s stop-motion stuff just catches my heart.

Quint: Absolutely.

Neil Gaiman: And the stuff he’s doing with CORALINE… you just have to look at it… it’s so fucking cool, so would I wait an extra five years for that? Yeah! I would wait an extra twenty years for that. SANDMAN… and there’s other stuff… books that I own completely, things like the Anansi Boys or American Gods, where I take enormous pleasure in saying no to people who (pursue the rights). When Anansi Boys first came out, we got a number of very big directors going after it and all of them basically ended up saying the same thing, which was they had real problems with a story as black people as leads in a fantasy movie. They just loved the story… could they just lose all the fantasy elements? They’d want a guy and his long lost brother and their shady father and… but you can’t. It’s one of those strange moments when you go “I don’t know if it’s racist or if it’s just stupid…” and probably more stupid than it is racist, but…

Quint: Probably both…

Neil Gaiman: Probably a little bit of both, but mainly just stupidness. Well there aren’t any movies out there which are fantasies which works with black people and therefore you can’t do them, but whatever. They sort of remember the Eddie Murphy BROOKLYN VAMPIRE movie and decide to leave it at that. I just think that was stupid. It’s like “Fine, I will keep Anansi Boys until the right person comes along…”

Quint: Yeah. You’re now moving into the director’s chair aren’t you?

Neil Gaiman: I probably will be, yeah. It looks like it.

Quint: So, do you think you’re going to start holding your own properties for you to do yourself?

Neil Gaiman: No, probably not, I mean I really want to do DEATH. I mean, that’s the one I want to direct and I want to direct it, because I don’t want somebody else doing it… I know how I want this thing to be. I wrote the script for it. I can taste the mood in my mouth. I know how it needs to work. I know the kinds of actors I need. I know the tone of voices and I know that it’s also a piece that is so completely dependent on tonal voice, but if I had to hand it over to another director it would probably fail and it’s too close to my heart to watch it get fucked up, so if anybody’s going to fuck it up, it’s going to be me.

[Both Laugh]

Quint: That’s cool. I read on your blog that you said that you are going out to a few actresses… what’s your strategy? Do you want to get someone with a proven history or someone that can be known as the character?

Neil Gaiman: I want the best girl for the role. It’s that weird way of casting that a film like this, which kind of involves a peculiar sort of point system… where you can either go “OK, so we can have an actress who scores about 7 points and then we can have an actor playing Sexton who is like a 9 pointer and if we get an Eremite, who’s a five pointer…” as opposed to going “Okay, we have to get actress X, because we can get this thing made.” But you can sort of put it together gradually, but what is great right now, is I’m getting to work with Guillermo [del Toro] on it… I get to pick his brain and everything and while he’s shooting HELLBOY 2, I’m actually going to get to go out there it looks like in a few weeks time and just spend a few weeks working with him on some stuff.

Quint: That’s cool.

Neil Gaiman: (It’s) going to get me into shape. My jaw dropped recently when I discovered that a version of the script (For DEATH) that I had done for budgeting purposes… somebody had gotten a hold of it and was reviewing it online and it was never actually meant to be… because it was originally set in New York and we were looking at it like “How would it work if we moved it to London?” and we needed to budget it for London, so I did an incredibly quick (draft)… you know the kind of draft where you actually fail to notice Crater Park becomes Central Park and goes back a few times. That kind of thing, but it was really a “OK, let’s just spit on its face and move it to London…” and then someone was reviewing that… it was like “No…” It was to see what kind of numbers we came up with. But I’m really very hopeful. What’s nice, I think, with DEATH is it sort of seems to be… well everything is moving in the right direction for it and that leaves me happier.

Quint: You were talking about finding those people whose words are their bonds… Guillermo is just such a nice guy that just loves what he is doing and he’s so good at it. You found another one.

Neil Gaiman: And really, it’s very interesting having been found knocking around Hollywood for years… The first time I came out was 1991 with Terry Pratchett to try to adapt GOOD OMENS and we sort of got our heads handed to us on plates and that’s the kind of Hollywood experience that everybody jokes about… which is good, because I actually got a really good short story out of it.

[Quint Laughs]

Neil Gaiman: I slowly learned that probably the best way to do Hollywood, if you’re doing it for any other reason than making lots of money, is to find people that you like, trust, and want to work with and work with them and you’re so much more likely to have the things that you want to happen happen.

Quint: Alright, cool. Well I think we’ve taken up about forty minutes now, so I think Paramount’s….

Neil Gaiman: I understand you were the one who, when people first started freaking out about STARDUST, you were the first person to actually put their minds at rest and say “No, it’s a really good film.”

Quint: From the production office visit? The art I saw was cool, simple as that…

Neil Gaiman: And now… it’s really hard with STARDUST. I’m thrilled. Occasionally I grumble about Paramount’s intensive marketing, but I’m incredibly aware that this isn’t an easy film to market, because it’s not something you can point at and say “Well, it’s like that” and there’s not really been anything else like it and not even PRINCESS BRIDE is much like this… It’s the only other thing, it’s the other thing in the genre… that will be like saying “Well, the Wolfman was kind of like Dracula… and well no, no it really wasn’t,” but they were the same kind of genre. And here there isn’t anything out like this and I’m very aware how hard it is to market that and how hard it is to tell people that they really do want to see this, because it will make them happier. It’s like eating ice cream… once you see STARDUST you will come away from this film happier than you were when you came in. I don’t know if it’s the only thing that a film can do, but it’s a lovely thing to be able to say about a film.

Quint: Yeah, well it’s definitely got the heart and visually I think Vaughn did such a great job adapting just the art that I saw when I went to the set. He’s got such a delicate line right now, because you want to do something that appeals to the fans and the box office dollars of LORD OF THE RINGS, but you don’t want to rip it off. You look at ERAGON and that is a prime example. It was horrible from the beginning, but they tried to make it look like LORD OF THE RINGS and people are going to automatically make that association and you can’t live up to it.

Neil Gaiman: What’s nice is we never started out trying to be LORD OF THE RINGS. We started out trying to be STARDUST and that’s where we go. It’s very special and I’m very proud of it and I’m proud of the job that Matthew has done.

Quint: Cool. Alright man, I think really that’s all I got, so thank you so much for talking to us and hopefully I’ll be sitting in that theater Wednesday, Preview Night, watching some BEOWULF in 3-D.

Neil Gaiman: I hope so, it’d be cool to see you and Drew there.

Quint: Yeah, it’d be cool and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I can’t speak for Drew, I don’t know what his plans are, but I’ll certainly be there with bells on…

Neil Gaiman: Brilliant.

Quint: Alright cool man, it was good talking to you.

Hope you guys dug it. Lots of talk there. I’d love to get my hands on the script Avary came up with for SANDMAN, if such a thing even exists anywhere. I’ve got a lot more interviews on the way. I couldn’t get through them all without the help of Muldoon, so thanks to our Raptor-hunting intern! Check back soon for interviews I have with Patton Oswalt, Janeane Garofalo and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura! -Quint

Readers Talkback
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  • June 14, 2007, 4:45 a.m. CST


    by manheor

    Neil Gaiman is god´s voice

  • June 14, 2007, 5:28 a.m. CST

    Avary's SANDMAN draft

    by MaxTheSilent

    Hated it. It took the excellent Elliot and Rossio script and filled it with stupid 'artistic flourishes'; such as the aforementioned puppet sequences, Hell as a Riefenstahl-esque Nazi Germany, and the most banal of all, The Corinthian as Dream's brother. Hopefully he'll cast Zooey Deschanel as 'Death'.

  • June 14, 2007, 5:59 a.m. CST


    by offscauta

    I don't understand how he gets the name Coraline right when Gaiman says it and wrong in the title and intro. Coraline is an amazing book.

  • June 14, 2007, 6:03 a.m. CST

    The Sandman Dilemma

    by Prague23

    Now I'd walk over hot coals to see an amazing Sandman film, but as a mega fan of the comics, nothing would probably satisfy me, unless it was a brand new story and not something from any comic story arc. <p> I'd prefer something like 'Masters of Horror'('MoH') where, if existing storylines are being used, different directors get involved and we see different stories done differently (like how different artists were used on the various novels). <p> But the 'MoH' segments were shorter than an hour long and to do the original Sandman storylines justice, each production would have to be longer than that - probably longer than two hours per story. <p> So I say Sandman should be an R-rated miniseries. Followed by other R-rated miniseries for each storyarc, perhaps 5-6 hours per existing storyline/graphic novel. <p> One-shots could be included, spaced out, if so desired. Like how the X-Files had their mythology episodes and stand-alone episodes. So perhaps a TV series, aiming at 24 episodes in a season would be best, in my opinion. <p> It's an incredible world, that of the Sandman universe. I'd hate to see some 'one shot' film come out of it that costs $100+ million and all future sequels are burried when it only groses $40 million at the box office. <p> Perhaps the fate of Watchmen will ripple through the comic-into-film future and that will determine the fate of a Sandman feature. <p> But, whatever happens, as long as Neil's happy with the result, I guess I won't complain too much. <p> Hey Neil, if you're reading this, I just read the complete Miracleman, which I'd been looking for for over a decade, and I love it! Downloading might be 'wrong' but I think that with Miracleman, there's an example of when people being able to have access to something - at all - is better than letting legal red tape keep art away from awaiting fans. Your thoughts? Anyone elses?

  • June 14, 2007, 6:06 a.m. CST

    Gaiman still pwns

    by darquelyte

    I'm one of the lucky ones to have a Gaiman hand drawn Sandman on a hardcover first edition Sandman. The guy is brilliant and I'll read/watch anything he's involved with.

  • June 14, 2007, 6:49 a.m. CST

    It took all my will-power....

    by BangoSkank

    not to stalk Neil when he and his family were living in the same small town as I was one summer. All of it. Just finished rereading American Gods and currently reading Good Omens.

  • June 14, 2007, 7:11 a.m. CST

    Cannot. Wait.

    by micturatingbenjamin

    I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman for around...ten or eleven years, right around there. When I was married, I had an opportunity to hang out with Neil and of all people Bernie Wrightson, Bernie Wrightson's wife, Tom Savini, and Mark Rein Hagen (the creator of the Vampire role playing game that was quite popular at the time). Neil was like a fucking rock star, most people just stared and gawped at him. My ex goes up to him and says to him, 'You're Neil.' and then invites his daughter out with her to go to Walt Disney World the next day of the convention. It of those things that just happened. Neil taught me a lot that day about how he got into writing comics, into writing in general, and I've kept at it to this day because of that conversation. And I learned his middle name from Mrs. Bernie Wrightson, who told us over pints: Bernie and Neil have the same middle name! He's Bernie Fucking Wrightson and he's Neil Fucking Gaiman. :) Couldn't have said it better myself. Mirrormask was the law, and this movie, too.. will rule, I believe.

  • June 14, 2007, 7:11 a.m. CST

    The Sandman Film

    by blackwood

    I don't really want it, to be honest. I think a Death film, directed by Neil no less, is enough.<br><br>But of course, if it HAD to be done, I'd suggest doing Season of Mists AS IT IS (as in, don't go all originy; don't try too hard to explain who these creatures are, just let them be AS they are) and get Michael Gondry to direct.<br><br>Great interview with a great man. Count me in the 'anything he's involved with' camp.<br><br>You should do a podcast, Quint. Save up your recordings and once every few months release it as a show.

  • June 14, 2007, 7:17 a.m. CST

    No...If you're doing a story...

    by micturatingbenjamin

    It should be The Doll's storyline had EVERYTHING...especially the 'Collectors'....Fuck, Gaiman, man...there was a Sandman story, Calliope, where the guy gets all the ideas from a pissed off Dream who curses him with ideas. And as I'm reading it, all of these premises on the page as the writer slowly drifts into madness, all I can do is sit there in mute envy of the shit that Neil THROWS AWAY on the page as an example of story. Again, Neil seems to have more ideas than the average guy, ones with unique merit, and can just throw them away. I simultaneously despise that and love that. But the Doll's House book...that was MY favorite. And no, downloading a book that you simply would not get otherwise is not wrong. Just do something for the people who put it out there. Buy their stuff that they own, put some money into their pockets. ;)

  • June 14, 2007, 7:21 a.m. CST


    by micturatingbenjamin

    The major deal with getting Sandman on the screen is that he exists in DC as it stands. He's in the same world as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. In fact, he's even sort of mentioned in 'Identity Crisis' in a sideways way that I found pretty damned cool, when Elongated Man is grieving, and Green Arrow remembers that Zatana said one time that the universe could be broken down into seven aspects. Pretty damned sweet. Making a Sandman movie per the comics would step on the toes of 'Constantine' (Didn't loathe it, but that's because of the work around Keanu) and include characters that they might not be able to get the rights for.

  • June 14, 2007, 7:31 a.m. CST

    The Doll's House

    by blackwood

    I could dig it. And aside from it being the introduction of Death and whatnot, the serial killer convention is fucking brilliant and would work incredibly on film.

  • June 14, 2007, 7:38 a.m. CST

    Great interview.

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    I still want to see Good Omens made into a film. That could be amazing if done right.

  • June 14, 2007, 8 a.m. CST

    Great interview, Quint.

    by beastie

    That's all.

  • June 14, 2007, 8:01 a.m. CST

    I saw The Princess Bride in the theater

    by Multiplex

    Yay me

  • June 14, 2007, 8:28 a.m. CST

    "It’s like eating ice cream… "

    by Dave I

    "It’s like eating ice cream… once you see STARDUST you will come away from this film happier than you were when you came in." [br /] What a great quote! As a lover of Gaiman's work it is good to see him maintaining artistic control and make his properties into movies tha maintain the magic and heart of his work. If Alan Moore could do that with The Watchmen, how cool would that be? [br /]As an aside, I think [i]American Gods[/i] could make a great movie, provided that Hollywood did not screw it up. Same with [i]Good Omens.[/i] Very funny book! [br /] -Cheers

  • June 14, 2007, 8:42 a.m. CST

    I have the utmost respect for Matthew Vaughn...

    by brokentusk

    He got to work on a massive franchise, realized that the studio was going to ruin it by rushing it out, and subsequently ditched the film. That immediately earns him my respect. X3 was a trainsmash before it began filming and Ratner did the best job he could under the terrible circumstances provided by 20th Century Fox. Definitely looking forward to STARDUST though.

  • June 14, 2007, 9:18 a.m. CST

    i cant wait for beowulf...

    by Director17

    the 3-d better not disappoint.

  • June 14, 2007, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Although it was funny that Vaughn's quitting was

    by half vader

    alluded to being for personal/family reasons! And then he turns around an accepts the Stardust gig. Nice way to play the game!

  • June 14, 2007, 9:22 a.m. CST

    my exposure...

    by Bloo

    My exposure to Gaiman's work came as a result of this site. I had heard of him before but when American Gods was released Mori or Quint or someone was talking about it it and I knew I had to check it out. I actually read that book on Sept 11, 2001 and didn't have the tv on so i had no idea what was going on because I got so wrapped up in Shadow's story. I just seekedout and found Stardust and believe me I'm going to be there to see it in the theatres adn I'm going to take others with me, even if I have to pay for them myself to go, they are going by gum. Anyways, great interview Quint

  • June 14, 2007, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Thank God for the English in Comics and Movies

    by pipergates

    it would have been a drearier world without them. not to mention in Literature...

  • June 14, 2007, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Just finished reading Anansi Boys

    by rev_skarekroe

    It might make a good movie. You could cast the guy from Scrubs as both Spider and Fat Charlie. The studio will want Will Smith of course, but fuck 'em.<p> As for Gaiman, his problem is that most his characters sound like Neil Gaiman. It's not so much a problem in comics where the visuals help give the characters more personality, but in the novels he should work on giving each character his or her own voice.

  • June 14, 2007, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Gaiman Turned me Goth

    by DOGSOUP

    After reading the Sandman 17 years ago. I'm not ashamed. Oh and I KNEW IT!"Too far from my family" my ass! Matt didn't want to make X3 because it SUUUUUUUCKED! I can't wait to see this with some hot goth girl who gets turned on by fairies. Hot Goth Sex. Thanks Neil!

  • June 14, 2007, 9:50 a.m. CST

    By "this" I mean Stardust

    by DOGSOUP

    And Hot Goth Vulva. Neil makes the goth girls wet.

  • June 14, 2007, 10:07 a.m. CST

    But will Death's speech about Condoms and AIDS

    by chrth

    happen before or after the credits? I say before.<p> I just hope they take out the "Henna Worshipper asking about [Sexton]" at the end. He was a total dick to her, why would she be interested in him?<p> Miranda Richardson as Mad Hettie.

  • June 14, 2007, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Didn't ask about MIRACLEMAN?

    by Hatter

    C'mon, Quint, you had Gaiman right there and you didn't ask about the current status of his legal battle for the rights to MIRACLEMAN? We haven't had an update for years now!

  • June 14, 2007, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Zooey Deschanel as 'Death'

    by pipergates

    second that

  • June 14, 2007, 10:23 a.m. CST

    and for good measure...

    by occula

    'death' with a soundtrack by tori amos and trent reznor. full circle!

  • June 14, 2007, 10:25 a.m. CST

    or eva green

    by pipergates

    she already uses the appropriate gothlike eyeshade

  • June 14, 2007, 10:39 a.m. CST

    Exactly why did chicks dig Kirk Cameron? Never got why

    by Doc_Strange

    I mean look at him, with that fro and everything. I just never could understand why girls paid any attention to Cameron. Growing Pains was a STUPID show, even for its time. I mean cmon, the perfect white American family. Who the fuck wants to watch that Masonic shit?

  • June 14, 2007, 10:43 a.m. CST

    doc, it's a mystery.

    by occula

    almost as mysterious as how god managed to make the banana FIT PERFECTLY IN MAN'S HAND!

  • June 14, 2007, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Why can't Sandman be animated?

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Miazaki would be my choice. Think I spelled his name wrong, grrr. Good interview Quint.

  • June 14, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Johnny Depp's next movie is Dream

    by Admiral Kirk

    In which he plays Morpheus -the Master of Dreams. Tim Burton to direct. Duh.

  • June 14, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST


    by micturatingbenjamin

    No. No. No.....The only man to run that show is: Mamoru Nagano with Yoshitaka Amano designing the characters for the screen (Amano did the Dream Hunters book, Vamp Hunter D, Final Fantasy and pretty much everything cool in the universe)...

  • June 14, 2007, 11:34 a.m. CST

    The perfect Death...

    by yesiamaplant

    Is Nora Zehetner (, the insanely adorable and really obvious plant from Heroes. The only other thing I've seen her on is "Brick", which she was also great in. Can't ya just see her all dressed up like a goth-biscuit? Mmm mmm mmmmm.

  • June 14, 2007, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Comic Con Sucks.. DragonCon Rules

    by tomdpimp2k

    Dragoncon has more guests, but Hollywood is too lazy to travel outside of California. Anybody reading this plan to attend DragonCon? Any AICN writers?

  • June 14, 2007, 11:44 a.m. CST

    When you talk to Lorenzo di Bonaventura

    by liljuniorbrown

    Please ask him about the GI Joe script and if he indeed plans on fucking that property up royaly. We want the real 80's cartoon/comic Joe's not some bull shit 1950's action man. We want Flint,Cobra Commander,Duke,Snake Eye's,Storm Shadow,Destro and all the rest. We deserve it man.

  • June 14, 2007, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Dragoncon's just a big costume party.

    by rev_skarekroe

    Same guests every year (mostly). Same dealers every year. More irritatingly crowded every year.

  • June 14, 2007, 12:01 p.m. CST

    No its not!

    by tomdpimp2k

    They gets lots of different guests yearly. But hollywood hates to send the stars!

  • June 14, 2007, 12:52 p.m. CST

    All that and no NEVERWHERE?

    by Frijole

    I mean the feature has been back and forth in development for close to a decade. And it doesn't even get a mention? Has it been scrapped as even a prospect altogether?

  • June 14, 2007, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Quint laughs, Quint farts ... Quint smile ....

    by ludmir88

    mehh just kidding :)

  • June 14, 2007, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Death should be...

    by SpookyOtaku

    ...Camilla Belle (played Crystal in The Chumscrubber) she has the look, the perky attitude and is the right age...unless Neil's going for a Brit.

  • June 14, 2007, 5:39 p.m. CST

    Neil Gaiman is hands down my favorite

    by oisin5199

    person in the entire mega-media complex of comics/books/film. This interview only furthers that. In a totally impromptu context, he manages to be funny, poignant and articulate. What's not to love? I am filled with great hope and joy to hear him say that he loves the Stardust movie. When have we ever heard an author, particularly such a talented one, say that? <p> Great props for Vaughan saying fuck you to Fox and X3, but still daydream how he would have done if he could trash the script and get his own screenwriter. <p> I totally agree that Sandman should be an anthology/mythology series, combining stand-alones with mythology, like the comic series. No movie would ever do it justice. And you can easily ignore the DC continuity. <p> It's a miracle that I actually agree with and support everything Anchorite said in his post. I kept waiting for the bash, but it never came. I'm marking the calendar. <p> Anyway, whoever does such things, give this man Gaiman lots of money and complete artistic freedom to create and produce the films he wants and work with the people he wants. Now!

  • June 14, 2007, 7:28 p.m. CST


    by Samuel Vimes

    Lenny Henry should be the ONLY actor considered to play Fat Charlie/Spider in any film adaptation of ANANSI BOYS.<br> <p> And Christina Ricci would've been perfect as Dream's older sis--- 10 years ago with that 'Wednesday Addams' vibe...

  • June 14, 2007, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Anchorite, I'm a producer and would like to hire you...

    by CopOnTheEdge direct Good Omens. Okay, no I'm not, I just wanted to fuck with the guy who had the balls to post this: "If they ever need someone to direct Good Omens, I would love to do it. My dad and I wrote a screenplay very much in the same vein..."

  • June 14, 2007, 7:38 p.m. CST

    Neil Gaiman kills younglings.

    by CopOnTheEdge

    He really does.

  • June 14, 2007, 8:47 p.m. CST

    Evan Rachel Wood as Death

    by jedicaboose

    Thirteen showed her gothiness. I think she'd be a great Death.

  • June 14, 2007, 10:14 p.m. CST


    by tehgreekhammer

    IS TEH FUCKING MAN!!! <P> Good to see my boy getting his due fially.

  • June 14, 2007, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Anchorite.

    by Frijole

    Hollywood is slobbering over itself to tap the as unyet mined well of talent in the AICN talkbacks. Sorry, but I hope you were joking when you just offered yourself up as a director. Oh, and when you likened your writing to that of Douglas Adams. Uh huh.

  • June 14, 2007, 11:35 p.m. CST


    by Nachokoolaid

    I wish he'd let some struggling filmmakers work with his stuff. He talks about directors wanting to do it the wrong way. Neil, if you're out there, give me the chance to direct that AMERICAN GODS script you have laying around. It's my dream project, and I'll guarantee to do it justice. <p> Oh, and Zooey Deschanel or Ellen Page for Death.

  • June 15, 2007, 12:06 a.m. CST


    by MediaNerd

    I'm kinda sad they didn't like the Svankmajer animation idea. Alice may not have been the best example though, I think Faust honestly looks and plays out like a Gaiman graphic novel, maybe Punch & Judy with McKean era.<br><br> Might get a bit of that feel with the Coraline movie since we got the Nightmare Before Xmas and James and the Giant Peach director. I hope they don't soften it. Today it seems like everything is made 'safe' for kids, but when I was growing up, I defiantly preferred the darker fairy-tales over the glossies. Kids are much smarter and able to handle more than we often give credit.<br><br> Great stuff though! Solid interview Quint, thanks!

  • June 15, 2007, 12:50 a.m. CST

    Lauren Graham for Death

    by tiger_robot

    I don't care that she's a little too old. She's witty, perky, cute, and looks lovely with long dark hair

  • June 15, 2007, 12:52 a.m. CST

    Zooey would be ok

    by tiger_robot

    Winona Ryder would have been perfect like 10 years ago. Evan Rachel Wood would suck ass as Death, and do we really the movie reduced to Manson spank material?

  • June 15, 2007, 1:09 a.m. CST

    Zooey would be perfect

    by Punch Man

    smart and cute

  • June 15, 2007, 1:27 a.m. CST

    And Avary's Sandman

    by Punch Man

    I'm pretty sure I've read it, He "revised it right?don't know how much was his, but it wasn't very good. It treated the Sandman as a a superhero almost. It was basically The Doll's House storyline. with some of the first book as an intro. <br> <br> look Sandman is the last book that should be distilled into a 2 hour movie. It's not so much Morpheus that is so interesting, it's the story that's important(Gaiman brilliantly beat us over the head with that idea ), it's how Morpheus gets to where he ends up <br> <br> They should have been doing Sandman like they're planning Preacher, as a direct adaptation from comic to episodic cable TV, though Sandman probably should be animated. It's such a simple and flawless idea. Imagine the series ending with The Wake?

  • June 15, 2007, 1:29 a.m. CST

    Not responsible for any tyops

    by Punch Man

    as of now (the title was honestly a mistake but I had to leave it)

  • June 15, 2007, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Love the idea of stardust

    by zelusfin

    the era before lotr. cool! im actually sick of reading all these fantasies that are practically the same. i love them but im craving something fresh. we gaiman said its gonna be in the likes of the princess bride i totally dug the idea. fantastic. reading american gods now and i love his modern prose, almost like king. but hes different. true what king said about him, hes a treasure trove of ideas. hope he continues writing. all these awesome fantasies about our modern world.

  • June 15, 2007, 3:10 a.m. CST

    Jane Goldman...

    by DirkD13"

    As in the red-haired, big-boobed foxy wife of Johnathan Ross??

  • June 15, 2007, 3:27 a.m. CST

    Sandman should be an HBO series


    I think that would be perfect.

  • June 15, 2007, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Stardust SCRIPT is VERY GOOD

    by Darth Fart

    I read the script a few weeks back; I adored it. This is OLD SCHOOL fantasy, it brought out the zeitgeist in me. Jane Goldman should write more scripts, she has the talent for this craft. I love the princes, they are so funny. I can't wait to see the film.

  • June 15, 2007, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Hope there's no sandman movie

    by MediaNerd

    The sandman was probably my favorite series when I was a heavy comic reader and converted me from the superhero stuff to the vertigo line and more underground stuff.<br><br>That said, Sandman's strength is its storytelling. It fully takes advantage of the comic format and uses it for either an epic or smart one offs. It is not something that can be compressed to form a 2hr standard film. Its stories are too big and the feel is that everything is endless. Film is just the wrong format.<br><br>A mini-series tv show would transfer better, but then I think you would be hampered by inconsistent writing and budget limitations that would keep the stories from creating the mythic size.<br><br>But then maybe I'm just to close to the material and can't see the other angle.

  • June 15, 2007, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Season of Mists miniseries...

    by Killah_Mate blackwood said: no origins, no intros. Just tell the story and watch everyone start drooling. Only valid if done by HBO with a "Band of Brothers" or "Earth to the Moon"-like budget (we're talkin' 60 million bucks or so), and a visionary director supervising. I vote del Toro, the man's movies look double their budget. Get Zoic (BSG guys) to do the VFX. Also Gaiman exec producing. And maybe Whedon or Straczynski sticking around, just in case. --- And then I wake up.

  • June 15, 2007, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Just so we're clear

    by Killah_Mate

    If it were any other Sandman arc, I'd give it to Gondry. But Season of Mists is del Toro country all the way. Oh, and either Sarah McLachlan or Jon Crosby on the music.

  • June 15, 2007, 4:20 p.m. CST


    by KoozyK

    you are obviously nora trying to get yourself work by creating hype about yourself. you were horrible in both heroes and brick and if you even think about pursuing death any more than that throwaway comment, well, i'll just have to find you and kill you.

  • June 20, 2007, 12:51 a.m. CST

    Seasons Of Mists?

    by Punch Man

    That idea makes no sense. It would a major amount of it's power taken out of the context of the series. Just do it in order as a series. Like I said imagine a Tv series ending like The Wake?

  • June 21, 2007, 1:17 p.m. CST


    by monorail77

    "QUIET, ALL OF YOU! They're approaching the tyrannosaur paddock."

  • June 24, 2007, 12:03 p.m. CST


    by Gothambat

    Will own! 'nuff said!

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