Tom Hiddleston has emerged as Neil Gaiman's latest favourite for the role of main character Morpheus -- or, failing that, anyone else with an English accent and sufficiently good cheekbones.
Long regarded as rich material for a film adaptation, Gaiman's seminal graphic novel 'The Sandman' gained renewed impetus this year.
A treatment by David Goyer ('The Dark Knight', 'Batman v. Superman"' was handed off to Jack Thorne, writer on multiple 'This Is England' TV series as well as Nick Hornby adaptation 'A Long Way Down', with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a producer's role.
At one point it had been thought that Gordon-Levitt would take on the main part too, but with Gaiman publicly ruminating on other possible choices, that may not have been the case.
Gaiman has long been on the lookout for potential Morpheus actors, the author explained in conversation with the UK's Radio Times. "There was a time Johnny Depp would've been a great Morpheus, but now he's too old and it's fine."
"I think the first time I saw Benedict was as Sherlock Holmes. I thought, 'Wow, that's incredibly Morpheus.' And fans probably thought the same because they immediately started doing fan-art, meshing the two of them up."
But with Cumberbatch involved with another superhero project, Marvel movie 'Doctor Strange', Gaiman has another go-to in the hopper.
"Tom Hiddleston is still out there! And the truth is, as far as I'm concerned, anybody who sounds English with great cheekbones can probably pull it off."
As for the film's long-in-gestation development, things appear to be moving forward at a steady pace.
"I am now a week before seeing the [revised Jack Thorne] script," Gaiman said. "It's going to come in just before Christmas. I'm nervous, I'm on tenterhooks. But do I have good feelings? Yeah I do."