Gaiman’s amazing graphic novel series, The Sandman, gained a ton of fans since its debut back in the late 1980s, and they have been itching for the day they might see it brought to life on screen for many years. Death is one of the best-known characters within the story, and plenty of people are now wondering who Death will be in The Sandman on Netflix.
Death is a fictional character in The Sandman series published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in The Sandman (vol. 2) #8 (August 1989), and was created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg. In the stories, Death is both the end of life and a psychopomp. Like many impersonations of death, Death meets the dead and guides them into their new existence. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is playing her in the series.
There’s been a ton of hype surrounding the premiere of The Sandman, and many people are eager to know more about each of the characters as soon as possible – as well as the talented professionals that will be playing them. Stick around to find out everything you need to know about Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s role in The Sandman so far – including snippets from interviews with the cast, the show’s creators, Gaiman, and even sneak peeks of Death on screen!
Who is Death in The Sandman?
Death is the second oldest of the Endless, a family of anthropomorphic beings. Death is allegedly the most powerful of the Enfless (and arguably the most powerful being in the universe), being shown (in a flashback in Brief Lives) to be virtually omniscient and able to intimidate the Furies, who showed no fear of others Engless, simply by raising your voice in The Kindly Ones.
The Thessaly witch mentioned that Death is the only Endless who is not bound by any rules, supported in a portion of Dream of Endless Nights in which she made a brief appearance at a conference designed to confer functions for entities and left her before it even began. Additionally, it was mentioned in Brief Lives that he is the only Endless who could survive the end of this incarnation of the universe.
The last task that falls to Death when the end of time comes, will be to slam the carpet, turn off the lights and close the door to the universe behind her. Despite everything, however, even Death has laws and rules to respect, although different from those of the other divinities, and she too is not allowed to interfere in certain situations. The entities that are superior to it are the Fates, including Night who is the mother of Death and Morpheus, the Presence, the supreme entity of the DC universe and creator of the universe, and the Phantom Stranger, who follows the will of the latter.
The Realm of Death is not detailed in the series, except for a brief scene of her in her “house” in the Sandman Special, Song of Orpheus, and later in The Books of Magic series. This is where she keeps her hat collection, her Slim and Wandsworth goldfish, and probably her gallery. A brief glimpse of her kingdom can be seen in The Little Endless Storybook, when Barnabas visited her, even though it was an apartment this time.
In spite of everything, Death, at certain moments, is discontented with her work, since most mortal creatures fear or hate her for the loss of loved ones, while unlike her brother Morpheus, as all mortals enter with joy and happiness in his realm of dreams. As admitted by Death itself, when someone’s life ends, she does not give oblivion, thus implying that when every living creature dies they keep everything they have.
During The Sandman series, Death will admit that she is angry with her brother Destruction, because he has chosen the Infinite Endless. One day every century, Death lives (and dies) as a mortal in order to understand the value of the lives she takes. She does it to become a mortal destined to die that day.
At the end of Death: The High Cost of Living, the Endless version of her talks about her with the mortal version of her. In the Sandman series, Morpheus mentions that if the sect of Burgess the Demon King had succeeded in their intent to capture Death, the consequences for the world and cosmic balance would have been devastating, believing that it was an immense fortune for the humans that the ritual failed.
Who is playing Death in The Sandman?
The Sandman Companion gives us the following description of Death:
“Death is the only major character whose visuals didn’t spring from me; that credit goes to Mike Dringenberg. In my original Sandman outline, I suggested Death look like rock star Nico in 1968, with the perfect cheekbones and perfect face she has on the cover of her Chelsea Girl album. But Mike Dringenberg had his own ideas, so he sent me a drawing based on a woman he knew named Cinamon Hadley — the drawing that was later printed in Sandman 11 — and I looked at it and had the immediate reaction of, ‘Wow. That’s really cool’. Later that day, Dave McKean and I went to dinner in Chelsea at the My Old Dutch Pancake House and the waitress who served us was a kind of vision. She was American, had long black hair, was dressed entirely in black — black jeans, T-shirt, etc. — and wore a big silver ankh on a silver necklace. And she looked exactly like Mike Dringenberg’s drawing of Death.“
So, who could fit this description? Well, the producers of the upcoming TV series made an excellent choice by casting young British actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste in the role of Death in Netflix’s The Sandman. She made her television debut by playing a small role in an episode of the medical series Holby City. Then, while she was dropping out of school, she decided to leave London for Los Angeles in 2011.
From then on, she appeared in many short films. She notably produced and co-wrote Lucky Day and Minor Alterations. At her beginnings, she also joined the Upright Citizens Brigade troupe and met her future playing partner, D’Arcy Carden, whom she would find in The Good Place but also in Barry. This troupe of comedians practicing improvisation on stage allowed her to hone his skills by playing in sketches and appearing on American television in various shows.
In 2015, she met Kristen Bell for the first time when she shared a scene with the actress in an episode of the series House of Lies. 2018 was the year of revelation to a wider audience for Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Indeed, she made a name for herself by playing a recurring role in the first season of the critically acclaimed thriller series, Killing Eve. It is an adaptation of Luke Jennings’ literary series Codename Villanelle, broadcast by BBC America, in which she plays Sandra Oh’s assistant.
Meanwhile, it is another recurring role that allowed her to make herself known, that of Simone Garnett, in another series that meets with success, The Good Place. In this series, notably led by Ted Danson, whose television career she has followed since her childhood, she plays the girlfriend of the character played by William Jackson Harper.
She built this television breakthrough by joining the regular cast of the HBO network’s black comedy, Barry, which is carried by Bill Hader and Stephen Root. It was yet another show that was praised by the press and the public. The year 2019 is finally marked by the release of a series in which she is one of the headliners, alongside Lucy Liu and Ginnifer Goodwin, namely season 1 of Why Women Kill, a new creation by Marc Cherry made popular by Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids.
The series depicts the lives of three women living in the same house, at three different times, all of whom are confronted with the infidelity of their respective husbands. Well received by critics, the series has found its audiences as well. In it, she played Taylor, a polyamorous working girl. Then, she co-starred alongside Kristen Bell in season 4 of Veronica Mars, in which she plays an evil bar owner while making her return in the fourth and final season of The Good Place.
This new fame allowed her to obtain a role in a big production, after having distinguished himself mainly for independent cinema, Disney’s Cruella, where she starred alongside Emma Stone. Ultimately, she was cast as Death in The Sandman.