Michael Jackson is, without a doubt, one of the most famous people to ever live. Yet, with all his success, there also came a hefty amount of failure. The pop icon was best known for his career in music, but also famously attempted to make a name for himself in the world of acting. While Jackson did land a few roles during his lifetime, in films like The Wiz and Men in Black II, his on-screen filmography has quickly become more well-known for the projects he couldn’t make happen. Legend tells of numerous occasions when the Thriller star tried using his fame and fortune to cast himself as characters that creatives didn’t necessarily see as a good fit. This includes the time he thought of purchasing Marvel so he could wear Spider-Man’s mask, and when he told George Lucas he wanted to play Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Now, over a decade after Jackson‘s death, writer Neil Gaiman has revealed the singer also made a play for the lead role in an early attempt at adapting The Sandman. Speaking with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Gaiman explained that a live-action television series based on his acclaimed graphic novel was being developed in the late 1990’s, and Jackson wanted in:
By 1996, I was being taken to Warners, where the then-president of Warner Bros sat me down and told me that Michael Jackson had phoned him the day before and asked him if he could star as Morpheus in ‘The Sandman’. So, there was a lot of interest in this, and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels, and what did I think? And I was like, ‘Ooh.’Neil Gaiman
Obviously, this version of the show never came to fruition, and it would take almost another 30 years before The Sandman saw the light of day. Tom Sturridge would ultimately be the one to bring Morpheus, Dream of the Endless, to life on screen, as the series finally found a home on Netflix earlier this month. Jackson ending up away from the role might have been best for the project as well, as the musician was arrested on charges of child molestation only a few years after his bid for Morpheus ended. Despite an eventual acquittal, the accusations against him never quite went away, and a career in film and television went completely down the drain.
The Sandman is now streaming on Netflix.