Jul 31 2012 1:00pm

How We Would Cast a Neil Gaiman Biopic

Let’s pretend that a biopic of Neil Gaiman’s life is going to be made. It won’t really, at least as far as we know. But it kind of should be, don’t you think? Something tasteful, somewhat metafictional, possibly titled The Dream King?

We think we know who would be perfect for the role of Neil Himself, Amanda Palmer, and select others. Help us fill out the cast and suggest your own!


Benedict Cumberbatch as Young Neil Gaiman

In our biopic, Neil Gaiman can’t possibly be played by just one actor. Who will depict Neil in his scrappy, music-journalist-burgeoning-comics-writer years? Benedict Cumberbatch is the only mop-haired Brit we could think of who could pull off a hungry, somewhat gothed-out young Gaiman. Who solves mysteries.


Alan Rickman as Older Neil Gaiman

Alan Rickman would play Neil Gaiman as he is now (wigs and Snape make-up handy) and, perhaps, as he is in the decades to come. (One could go silver far less prettily than Alan Rickman has.)

Just because this is a biopic doesn’t mean it has to be 100% accurate. We eagerly await the inevitable time travel team-up between Alan Rickman and Benedict Cumberbatch as they try to recover a manuscript stolen by Todd McFarlane.


Zach Galifianakis as Harlan Ellison

If you’ve seen the Harlan Ellison documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth then you know Gaiman is good buddies with Ellison. If we want to portray Ellison as fun, angry buddy/sidekick to Neil Gaiman, what better person than Zach Galifianakis? He wouldn’t necessarily have a huge role, but because of the source material and the chops of the actor, Ellison/Galifianakis’s role would certainly be made larger than life for comic effect. We’re not saying there would be a plotline similar to The Hangover, though worse things could happen than a bro-comedy featuring just Harlan Ellison and Neil Gaiman in Vegas. Even if it’s made up.


Bryce Dallas Howard as Tori Amos

Tori Amos and Neil Gaiman can often be found crossing over into each other’s work. Whether it’s Tori as Delirium in Sandman or Neil getting name-checked in a couple of her songs, the two obviously have an interesting creative back-and-forth. We think Bryce Dallas Howard would be perfect to take Tori’s role, perhaps with some audio replacement by Tori Herself should Bryce need some help with any musical performances within the film. And Tori would unquestionably have to go on the soundtrack, along with...


Amanda Palmer as Amanda Palmer

There really isn’t anyone else who could embody this role other than the Actual Amanda Palmer; she’s too much of a performance presence. We also imagine her narrating the movie with her ukelele and voice, in a manner similar to Glenn Yarbrough in the animated Hobbit movie.

We’ll stop there, even though there are so many more people to cast! What of Terry Pratchett and Dave McKean? What of his long time agent Merrilee Heifetz? Or Vertigo Comics editor Karen Berger? Or Alan Moore? How many actual science fiction/fantasy writer cameos could one squeeze in? How many fictional character cameos could one squeeze in? Who could even play Morpheus?

Chime in below with your own ideas! And remember, this is all in good fun.

Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. Stubby would have a cameo as the magic living rocket that secretly inspired Neil Gaiman to become a writer.

Noneo Yourbusiness
1. Longtimefan
Joquin Pheonix as Alan Moore. He would have to work on the voice though.
Shoshana Kessock
2. ShoshanaK
Would it be strange to say Tilda Swindon as Amanda Palmer?
Chris Lough
3. TorChris
@Shoshana. At first I was going to say "But she's already the 12th Doctor." but then I realized that just makes even more sense.
Nick Rogers
4. BookGoblin
@TorChris when I first read that I assumed you meant Amanda F'ing Palmer was the 12th Doctor and I had this incredible daydream moment...

...anyway. I think if Benedict Cumberbatch plays young Neil, he's the only logical candidate to play Morpheus. Also, this would be awesome in ways I probably shouldn't be allowed to spend too much time thinking about.
Cecilia ML
5. Cecilia ML
Hugh Laurie as Harlan Ellison.
Cecilia ML
6. JulianT
Surely Simon Amstell as the young Neil
Mordicai Knode
7. mordicai
Crispin Glover with a shaved head as Grant Morrison.
Josh Kidd
8. joshkidd
When I saw the tweet about both Benedict Cumberbatch and Alan Rickman playing Neil, I was expecting an "I'm Not There" style biopic where six different actors play him. We need to come up with four more. ;)
Cecilia ML
9. Dean B.
Ed Asner as cranky, litigious Harlan Ellison.
Cecilia ML
11. bogslug
So who plays Douglas Adams?
Cecilia ML
12. DrJon
You just know that if Hollywood ended up with it, it'd be Keanu Reeves as Neil... (but Alan Rickman is a genius casting choice)
Cecilia ML
13. Raliel
Brtian Blessed as Alan Moore...and possibly Dave mcKeen too....
Rob Munnelly
14. RobMRobM
George Martin as himself reacting to the "Not Your Bitch" article.
malubv vargas
15. malubv
No, it wouldn't, ShoshanaK I think it is a very good choice.
Cecilia ML
16. jbates
Helena Bonham Carter as Amanda Palmer!
Cecilia ML
17. vespalady
Dylan Moran as Neil Gaiman!
Cecilia ML
18. kaylams
@bogslug Jim Broadbent has always reminded me of Douglas Adams for some reason. Or possibly even Stephen Fry.

Can we please find a part for Craig Ferguson in this movie? It just feels right.
Bridget McGovern
19. BMcGovern
Wait...maybe Craig Ferguson can play Alan Moore? Is that too crazy? Picture him with a velvet bowler and a Great Big Bushy Beard...that could work, right?!! (The Moore casting has been bothering me since last night, for some reason :)
Cecilia ML
20. Tara O'Shea
I've always thought Jeremy Northam ought to play Neil, personally...
Cecilia ML
21. RozKaveney
Kenneth Branagh as Dave McKean; Felicia Day as Mary Gentle
Irene Gallo
22. Irene
Someone on Twitter mentiooned Mikhail Baryshnikov as Ellison...which I love.
Cecilia ML
23. bogslug
The film opens up at a 1981 Comic Con somewhere in England... A young Neil Gaiman is sitting on a chair in the back, a well-thumbed copy of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" sticking out of his back pocket, reading an article in Time Magazine about how Stan Lee created comic books. Chris Claremont is up at the podium being cheered at by thousands of British basement dwellers, receiving yet another accolade for "The Dark Phoenix Saga". A young Alan Moore, sitting next to him, mutters: "This bollocks has got to stop!"
Cecilia ML
24. CLV73
Parker Posey as Amanda Palmer.
Teresa Jusino
25. TeresaJusino
I think Harry Lloyd (aka "Son Of Mine" on Doctor Who and Viserys Targaryen on Game of Thrones) would make an awesome Neil Gaiman.

And I think Amanda Palmer should be played by a glammed-up male actor - perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch would be able to play THIS role! - because I think that both Gaiman and Palmer would enjoy that muchly.
Ian Osmond
26. IanOsmond
Alan Cumming as Brian Viglione (the other half of Dresden Dolls).

It's a "personality" thing as much as a "physical resembleance" thing.
Chris Lough
27. TorChris
@25. TeresaJusino And I think Amanda Palmer should be played by a glammed-up male actor

That's how far I got before I thought...John Cameron Mitchell as Amanda Palmer...and now I can't think of anything else.

Also, Tom Hiddleston as Morpheus, maybe? And Tori Amos can play Delirium but not herself. (But... sort of herself.)
Cecilia ML
28. Marc Evan
I've always thought that James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar from the modern Battlestar Galactica) would be the perfect casting for the role of Neil in a biopic.
Ryan Britt
29. ryancbritt
The thing we forgot to do was also put Duran Duran in the movie. Sorry everyone. Blame me forgetting about Duran Duran. Though I just remembered, so I guess it's okay.
Cecilia ML
30. mndrew
I'm still picturing Zack Levy as Neil Gaiman; he already has the hair down.
Cecilia ML
31. Jexral
I can't say that I care who is in this theoretical movie as long as Charlie Kaufman writes and directs it. Like 'Adaptation.' redux.
Cecilia ML
32. TXdreamkiller
Is it to typical to have John Cusack as Morpheus? It would be grand to throw Liam Neeson somewhere in there. He has great presence.
Cecilia ML
35. houstonreader
Neil should do the narration. He has such an amazing voice...and I think he should have a part, but not as himself.....
Ian Gazzotti
36. Atrus
What happened to my previous comment?
Teresa Jusino
37. TeresaJusino
Atrus @36 - That. Is. Awesome. :) I'd watch her in anything, but that would be total hilarity and awesomeness if it were real. :)
Cecilia ML
38. C B
For some reason I always thought Michael McManus reminded me of Neil Gaiman!
Cecilia ML
39. RockNStroll
I would suggest Peter Wingfield for present-day Mr. Gaiman.

Cecilia ML
40. Susie
James Fleet as Douglas Adams and Jim Broadbent as GK Chesterton. I'm imagining a sort of Greek chorus of British authors, living and dead, commenting on the action, and occasionally pulling Neil aside to advise/confuse him.
Cecilia ML
41. kaylams
I would sell a body part or two if it meant I got to watch a movie with Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, and G.K. Chesterton. Someone needs to get on that.
jon meltzer
42. jmeltzer
Amanda Palmer as Every Role In The Film, except for "Amanda Palmer" - played by Neil Gaiman.
Cecilia ML
43. Juhan
Who'll play Roger Zelazny?
Levi Stribling
44. WhiteAsianMagic
My thoughts are that Alan Rickman is going to make this famous. The man is magical.
Cecilia ML
45. Ivory tha lil white boi
Pee Wee Herman as Neil. He needs the work and I'd pay to see that...twice. Better yet do a real in depth documentary.
Cecilia ML
46. Stevonicus
Cillian Murphy could definitely play one of the versions of Neil if it goes down the I'm Not There route of multiple actors.

And I'm thinking Keith David could play Mr Nancy if we are including some of Neil's characters.
Cecilia ML
47. Esther Christina Walburg
Sir Ian McKellen as Terry Pratchett :-D

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment