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

Lucifer Morningstar has returned to the screen in Netflix’s long-awaited adaptation of The Sandman, but the 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 he was portrayed by actor Tom Ellis in romantic crime-drama Lucifer, which came to an end last year.

Viewers 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 technically it is classed as a spin-off from Neil Gaiman’s fantasy epic.

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Now though, a new star is taking over the role for a version that will adhere much more closely to the source material, with Gaiman himself stating why Tom Ellis had to be recast. Read on for details.

Who plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman?

Gwendoline Christie plays Lucifer Morningstar in The Sandman, who has some major genre credentials from her former roles as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones and Captain Phasma in the Star Wars saga.

When her 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?

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, 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.

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

As Gaiman mentioned in our interview, Gwendoline Christie’s Lucifer is a more faithful translation of the comic book version, who 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 from Lesley-Ann Brandt.

The Sandman is available to stream on Netflix

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John Day
John Day is a seasoned sports writer and brings a unique blend of insightful analysis and covers the stories that matter most to sports enthusiasts everywhere.

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