Death, Kirby Howell-Baptiste changes the way viewers think about death

For years, the concept of Death and the Grim Reaper has largely been portrayed as a shadowy, terrifying, skeletal being, but actor Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in the Netflix series The Sandmanadapted from the Neil Gaiman comics, it makes you rethink the whole concept of living and dying.

Weather The Sandman It might initially lead you to believe that the main character, who also goes by the name Dream or Morpheus, played by Tom Sturridge in the Netflix show, is the iconic character to focus on, it’s actually Howell-Baptiste in the Episode. 6 in the series which is the one to watch.

(L to R) Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Tom Sturridge as Dream in The Sandman episode 106.  (Courtesy of Netflix)

(L to R) Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Tom Sturridge as Dream in The Sandman episode 106. (Courtesy of Netflix)

In the episode titled “The Sound of Her Wings”, Dream had previously been on her quest to retrieve the three stolen items connected to her magical powers, her sand, her ruby, and her helm, but Dream indicates that she now feels even worse than the. when he began searching for him, he now feels “nothing” and questions his purpose as king of dreams.

As a source of comfort to him, Dream accompanies his sister Death as she goes about her daily chores, which is essentially being a smiling face with a warm and caring disposition as she tells the humans that it is time for her to die. He is heartbreaking in many ways, but also strangely comforting as we are introduced to this concept of a lovely woman holding our hand and helping us to die, understanding fears and approaching the situation with compassion.

(L to R) Curtis Kantsa as Franklin, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in The Sandman episode 106.  (Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix)

(L to R) Curtis Kantsa as Franklin, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in The Sandman episode 106. (Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix)

For Howell-Baptiste, meeting and “discovering” Gaiman’s unique portrayal of the concept of death was a highlight for the actor.

“My favorite part of this whole process was discovering Death, I guess rediscovering because I read the comics two years ago, and getting this part, I was able to go back and reread and recognize what it was. I fell in love with originally, which is this more loving, caring, considerate version of Death,” Howell-Baptiste said. Yahoo Canada. “Because we shot this during lockdown and I flew back to London to film, we were in quarantine, I spent an incredible amount of time alone and had an incredible amount of time to really focus on my research for this role. ”

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“Death is a concept that is as old as time, because while there has been life there has been death, and that is how it has been written, painted, there are songs about it, there is everything, so I had infinite material. I went down so many rabbit holes and read mythology and folklore and things like that, and I think it allowed me to dive into this concept, and then find a way to humanize her, so that we could put her on screen and she wouldn’t just be the idea of ​​death. but his incarnation.

(L to R) Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Tom Sturridge as Dream, John Leader as Freddie in The Sandman episode 106.  (Courtesy of Netflix)

(L to R) Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Tom Sturridge as Dream, John Leader as Freddie in The Sandman episode 106. (Courtesy of Netflix)

The death exemplifies why ‘The Sandman’ is still relevant after more than 30 years

The whole construction of the character of Death, this particular representation of the concept, takes advantage of the why The Sandman it remains as relevant and revered today.

Members of The Sandman The cast is aligned in identifying that what gives the series and the comics lasting power is that the story taps into inherent human desires and fears.

“I think there are a lot of things in comics that people can take with them,” Vanesu Samunyai, who plays Rose in The Sandman saying Yahoo Canada. “I think there’s something you can take away, like the concept of Death, and how she’s very comforting, a woman, and how a lot of people have said things like, ‘oh yeah, I’d love to. if when she dies, if someone like this took me, it would make the whole transition easier.’”

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Mason Alexander Park as Desire in episode 110 of The Sandman.  (Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix)

Mason Alexander Park as Desire in episode 110 of The Sandman. (Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix)

For Mason Alexander Park, who plays Desire, a brother of Death and Dream, highlights the Sandman The ability to address the constants in our human experience allows everyone, no matter the particular circumstances of their individual life, to relate to the story.

“I think the humanity in the piece is probably what prevails over time, I think it’s about change and about life and death and all the things that are constant in every human experience,” Mason Alexander Park. said. “No matter what you look like, where you come from, or who you are, it’s so easy to find yourself on the page because it’s so representative of not only the human condition and the human experience, but the world around you. .”

“I think our show takes that even one step further, in the way that it was cast, in the way that it was put together because when I watched the show, it resembles the world that I grew up in, and it resembles the people that I know, and it’s a deeply felt piece because I hope that each person can see themselves in each iteration of The Sandmanbut especially in ours, and that’s probably what’s going to keep it timeless, hopefully.”

For Kirby Howell-Baptiste, who was tasked with embodying Death, echoes the comments of his co-stars, stating that these existential questions raised in The Sandman These are things that I couldn’t get out of my head.

“This story has a unique way of reaching people beyond a comic book, beyond the typical archetypal comic book fan,” Howell-Baptiste said. “I think that what we deal with, the issues,… social, psychological, political, throughout The SandmanAnd the fact that when you leave this, I know, personally, when I leave the comic, these were thoughts that I kept coming back to.”

“It’s something that really makes you think, it’s the reason people tell them about it.”

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