In a new interview for CBR, Boyd talked about doing The Corinthian in the new Netflix series, his casting process, working with Neil Gaiman and more. Read it below:
Boyd Holbrook has called his The Sandman character, the Corinthian, “the patron saint of serial killers,” and for good reason. Based on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book series, the TV show revolves around the titular character (Tom Sturridge), who also goes by the names Morpheus and Dream. After breaking free from a century of imprisonment, Dream sets out to restore order to his majestic realm. However, he must also contend with the Corinthian, a nightmare entity he created that escaped the Dreaming in his absence.
Sporting a creamy-white wardrobe, pale hair, and a pair of shades, the Corinthian’s most bizarre physical feature involves two rows of jagged teeth that line his eye sockets. On Earth, the Corinthian indulges in slaughter and mayhem by removing the eyeballs from his victims’ heads. He’s amassed a cult-like following of murderers and even headlined a convention of serial killers, and he’s just getting started. Holbrook recently spoke with CBR about comic book properties, his spin on the Corinthian, the character’s rows of teeth, and the show’s sets.
CBR: You absolutely blew people away as Pierce in Logan. Now, you are the Corinthian in The Sandman. What’s the appeal of playing in these superhero properties?
Boyd Holbrook: That’s a really good question. There are so many different tiers of acting. If you want to boil it down, it’s responding to imaginary circumstances. It’s make-believe at the highest level. With these types of sandboxes, you have a lot more to play with in terms of the reality and the conceptual perception of the character. Now, we are dipping our toe into this really dramatic fantasy world. My Sandman character, we all know, has teeth for eyes. He was a designed nightmare in the matrix of our dreams. That tagline is a real well and depth of creativity to step into. We are working with Neil Gaiman, who is adapting this, along with David Goyer and Allan Heinberg. Those people are going to keep the integrity of the project for me. That is essentially what is appealing.
Tom Sturridge endured a long casting process for Morpheus. What was yours like?
Maybe not as in-depth as Tom’s audition, but it was a six-month process. You did bring up Logan and playing Donald Pierce. It was very similar to that process. I auditioned, and six months later, they called back. They wanted to have conversations. I know firsthand they really tried to look under every crevice for an actor to play this character. He’s vitally important to people and the creators of the show. I’m very cool, calm, and collected about all this stuff. It’s just a process, and I am happy they go through the process to get what they want.
Creator Neil Gaiman is such a visionary when it comes to storytelling and worldbuilding. What impressed you about the Sandman universe?
I think it’s something we all have in common, which is dreaming. It’s something we all share and all go through in our existence of life. It’s all so vastly different and surreal, and yet we have the same common experiences. I don’t know a world that has really explored that. Neil has taken and isolated that world solely by himself. It’s something we can relate to. It’s a really cool world that everybody gets right off the bat.
Neil Gaiman is typically hands-on when it comes to his television projects. What notes did he give you that helped capture the Corinthian’s voice and demeanor?
I wanted to ask Neil, “Is there anything you must have in this character?” He answered that with, “How you were playing it is something that I have never envisioned as the Corinthian,” which was my initial take on the character, which was you would welcome him into your home. He would stop and help you fix a flat tire on your car rather than be a boisterous, flamboyant, loose character that was unpredictable. He was a more calculating character. I was relieved to hear that. It was nice that you had placed your foot in the right direction so you could carry on.
The Corinthian distinctive feature revolves around teeth for eyes. How curious were you with how they would pull that off?
I was extremely hesitant about that. After the six-month process, I had totally [forgotten] about the project. I was working on different things, and it came back around. Then I thought, “Okay, this is a real thing now. How am I going to play this?” Not play that I don’t have eyes, but a lot of acting is done through the eyes. You can interpret what is happening in a character just by physically looking at what’s going on in their face. Their eyes have so much to do with that. I was very hesitant of that at first.
It was a hard thing for me to wrap my head around, but it was obviously such an attribute of the character. It was sort of his secret weapon. Once I started to understand that element of the character — rather than seeing it as a hindrance or a crutch, it was a powerful attribute — that was a good entryway for me.
Neil Gaiman’s worlds are always hauntingly beautiful. Which Sandman set stood out for you?
There are so many amazing sets, and I get to travel through so many different worlds in this one. I think the opening scene that the Corinthian is in when I am talking to Burgess… We were out in the UK, and there was this amazing castle/mansion/old insane asylum that we were shooting in. Harry Styles may or may not have bought it. That could have been a rumor. I have never been in a physical building like that.
The sets that were half-built/half-CGI are why the show was made now. Even Neil said, “We have had so many fantastic directors attached to this project over the last 30 years, but I am so happy we didn’t make them because they couldn’t have made them as good as this.” Now, technology and the art of filmmaking have just come to the level to be able to make this show the way it should be made. The finished project is really special.