'The Sandman: Act II' Star Brian Cox on His Love of Radio Drama and the Epic Nature of Neil Gaiman (Exclusive)

As any fan of Neil Gaiman knows, the British storyteller's work pops across many different mediums. The latest is a lush and exceptionally well-cast audio drama sequel on Audible, The Sandman: Act II, released on Sept. 22. Featuring the voice talents of James McAvoy, Kat Dennings, Michael Sheen, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright, Regé-Jean Page, Brian Cox, and many others, The Sandman: Act II brings life to volumes 4, 5, and 6 of Gaiman's iconic graphic novel series and continues the adventures of Morpheus, Lord of Dreams. 

Cox, who was also the deathly narrator in Amazon's Good Omens, appears in episode 10 of the new drama as Emperor Augustus in a haunting adaptation of the comic vignette "August," and the Succession star pulled from his longtime love of radio in this new role. In a new interview with PopCulture.com, Cox admitted that radio is his favorite storytelling medium. "I love radio because in radio you can be anything," Cox explained. "It goes beyond everything and it's been around for a long time. In the UK, we still make radio programs. We still do radio drama. We have an incredibly powerful tradition of radio drama, and a lot of our finest drama just started. Pinter did radio, and a lot of writers did radio to start with."

According to Cox, this kind of audio drama is exactly what people need during a pandemic. "What we've lived through over the last few months with COVID has shown a huge rise in audiobooks. People want to hear people speak," Cox said. "Because we can't hear people speak. And a lot of people don't know how to speak with these masks on. You can't understand them. We're always too polite to say, 'I'm sorry, can you be clear? Can I have a diction?' And, of course, I think that affects you, 'cause you yourself are thinking, 'I want to hear something.' The audiobook and the podcast fill that bill."

Cox believes that The Sandman is a good entry point for anyone unfamiliar with Gaiman's work, pointing to the grand scope of his storytelling. "It's an adventure. It's like being on a flying carpet, and you go into different places in different states," Cox said. "You come down and then you go up, and sometimes you go back, or you head on. It's an unfolding kind of epic, in that way. That's the strength of and boldness of Neil's writing. That's what you can do. Good Omens was that, but it was much more comically bound in many ways."

"The Sandman is an epic," Cox declared, comparing Gaiman's work to the classics. "In the early days of my career, I shot films like Nicholas and Alexandra, in which I portrayed Trotsky. You knew you were part of something which was completely epic, you know? Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia. Neil has that kind of scope." Act I and the brand new Act II of The Sandman are now available to stream on Audible.