Exclusive: Mason Alexander Park talks playing Desire in The Sandman

The Sandman. Mason Alexander Park as Desire in episode 110 of The Sandman. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022
The Sandman. Mason Alexander Park as Desire in episode 110 of The Sandman. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022 /

It feels like we’ve been waiting an eternity to see Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic book The Sandman get adapted for television. The author has been shooting down unpromising versions of his magnum opus for decades. But this summer, our dream finally comes true, and the Netflix series is every bit the spectacular show fans hoped it would be.

The Sandman follows Dream, the personification of the concept of dreams, as he struggles with ruling The Dreaming, the realm we all visit when we fall asleep. Dream is one of the Endless, a family of seven anthropomorphic beings who embody different aspects of the human condition: his siblings are Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium.

Not all of the Endless feature in season 1. We get to see Death (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), Despair (Donna Preston), and Desire (Mason Alexander Park). Desire plays a big role, as they’re constantly scheming and trying to prove to Dream that they are more important than him.

With The Sandman here, Mason Alexander Park recently stopped by to discuss their experience working on the show. Read our chat below!

Image: Stephanie Diani
Image: Stephanie Diani /

For newcomers to Sandman, could you tell us a little about Desire and the role they play in the show?

Desire is Dream’s younger sibling, and like Dream they are the anthropomorphic personification of Desire itself. They are wonderful, loving, and equally as cruel… a shifting, fickle entity that represents both the darker and lighter sides of need and want. Desire was once Dream’s favorite sibling, but their relationship has become strained over time for various reasons we’ll get into throughout the series. They often are at odds with one another, both their own ego and Dream’s get in the way of their ability to let go of old grudges, as they constantly try to prove to their older brother that dreams could not exist without Desire.

You are clearly a huge fan of The Sandman comics. When did you first start reading them? Was Desire always a dream character for you?

I began to read the comics a few years ago, but never sat and read the entire thing in one go until 2020. I had been aware of Desire for almost a decade, and knew they were one of the only explicitly non-binary or gender non-conforming individuals in the comic book world, so as a self-proclaimed geek I knew about them for a while.

What was the first thing that went through your head after finding out that you got the part?

I was honestly in shock. This whole role and job really began from such a simple place of trying to go after something I really wanted, which has proven to work out really strangely well for me in the more recent chunk of my career. Hedwig was a part I chased down similarly that changed my life, and Desire was a role I had an equal hunger for, but never thought would materialize in the way that it did. I got the call a few days after I wrapped shooting Cowboy Bebop for Netflix, and I very quietly told my partner and my best friend, and felt immensely proud. To be a part of something so iconic, created by one of my favorite authors, was an honor.

The sets look absolutely beautiful. What was it like walking onto the set for the first time?

I was floored, mainly because I didn’t see any of the renderings or designs ahead of time. So on one of my first days at the studio our director Louise took me into the threshold and just let me hang out in there and move around a bit to get an idea of how we were going to shoot it. Most of what you see on screen is practical, with a seamless blend of VFX extension to make the space even more cavernous, and it’s amazing seeing so many departments come together to create something I’ve pictured in my head for a long time.

Did you get to discuss your character with Neil Gaiman? If so, what tips did he give you?

Neil, Allan and I had some very nice chats about the show and about Desire leading up to my arrival in London that were incredibly helpful. One of my favorite things to listen to was the way that Neil talked about how wonderful and awesome Desire was, and that Sandman could very easily be told from their perspective and “it would be a lot more fun and have a lot more sex in it.” His main tip was just to remember not to play Desire as a villain, they are the hero of their own story, and they just happen to brush up against their stuffy older brother often.

Questions submitted by fans

Alex (@IHateMyTweets): What was the most difficult part of playing a character as complex as Desire?

The chair. THE CHAIR. I had bruises all over my hip bones and other parts of my body for days.

Izzy (@IzzyxBaxter): Which Desire look/outfit from the entirety of the comics run are you most excited to wear?

I love the corset Desire wears to the family dinner in “Season of Mists,” that’s one of my favorite scenes of them in the series.

Marisa (@MarisaOnFilm) What was the audition process like for Desire?

The audition process was actually incredibly simple. Neil and I connected on Twitter and then I told my agents to set the rest up from there. Toward the end of shooting Cowboy Bebop I got an email with a scene between Desire and Despair, and made a tape quickly after work that night and just sent it in. About 2 weeks later I found out it was being offered to me.

Jess (@355Jess): What’s your favorite quality or mannerism about Desire?

I love how Desire really does encompass so many different facets of the human experience, so I get to shift very quickly between emotions to fit whatever goal (or lack thereof) they have in mind. Their casual cruelness is always so much fun to play, such a treat as an actor.

Donald (@ItsTheBoat): Is there a future moment in the comics that you are particularly excited to play?

I’m really looking forward to many moments in the comics, but seeing the family together for the first time in “Season of Mists” is super exciting to me. There’s something very Succession about the whole thing, and who doesn’t want to be the person making all the fuss at a dinner party!

Why Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is so special. dark. Next

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