How Kevin Smith Landed His Role as Sandman’s Merv Pumpkinhead

Filmmaker Kevin Smith recalls how he landed the role of Merv Pumpkinhead in Audible’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

At New York Comic Con 2021, filmmaker Kevin Smith recalled how he landed the role of Mervyn “Merv” Pumpkinhead in the second act of Audible’s audio drama adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Smith moderated the official Sandman panel at NYCC 2020, during which he expressed his affinity for the character of Merv Pumpkinhead. After being cast as that very same character in DC and Audible’s The Sandman: Act II, Smith got to attend this year’s NYCC Sandman panel not as a moderator, but as a guest. This year’s panel was instead moderated by Tiffany Smith, who is a massive Sandman fan in her own right and currently stars in Kevin Smith’s animated Netflix series Masters of the Universe: Revelation.


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“This time through, you also brought in some new voices, so I want to jump over to Kevin,” Tiffany Smith said during the NYCC 2021 panel. “Last year at New York Comic Con, you were moderating the panel, and this year you got to come in because you talked about, you know, Merv being a favorite character, talk to us about how that journey happened from moderating to then, now being a part of this Audible series.”

Kevin Smith admitted that he “had no idea one would lead to the other.” The filmmaker elaborated, “I was just happy to do the panel and stuff, but then I got the call and they were like, ‘Hey, they want you to do a voice in The Sandman,’ and I didn’t, I swear to you, I was like, ‘I bet you it’s Merv Pumpkinhead,’ and they were like, ‘It is Merv Pumpkinhead!’ There was nothing else I could think of; I would ruin everything else. I was like, but that? I got a good chance of pulling that off, and Dirk [Maggs] was nice enough to let me use my voice, as opposed to trying to come up with a character voice or something like that. So, he sounds very Jersey, which is what he sounded like in my head when I read it, years and years and years ago.”

RELATED: The Sandman: How WandaVision’s Kat Dennings Became Death in Audible’s Adaptation

Later on in the panel, Maggs — who adapted The Sandman for Audible — opened up a bit more regarding the casting process. “…I just quickly said, ‘No, this isn’t gimmick casting; this is the best cast we can possibly get,'” he explained. “That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to make something that’s so exceptional and inspiring for other creatives, and part of that process is to get people in who are perfect. And we were doing the New York Comic Con with Kevin moderating last year, and I think I put in the chat window to Neil on the Zoom and I said, ‘Do you think Kevin would play Merv?’ and Neil said, ‘We can only ask.’ Because I think Kevin’s brilliant, a genius at what he does and I just thought this guy, you know, he’s made to do this — this is how he sounds. So, it was a no brainer to ask him.”

Kevin Smith is a writer and director perhaps best known for his View Askewniverse franchise of interconnected films, which includes Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and the upcoming Clerks III. According to Smith, Neil Gaiman stories such as The Sandman and Good Omens were hugely influential when he began his filmmaking journey with Clerks back in 1994. “I remember I was reading Neil heavily right before I made Clerks and I’ve said this to him many times,” Smith said, explain that when you see Gaiman’s imagination unfold, “your imagination cannot help but unfold as well.”

Created by Gaiman alongside artist Sam Kieth and inker Mike Dringenberg, The Sandman originally launched under DC’s Vertigo Comics imprint in late 1988. Audible’s audio drama of the acclaimed supernatural comic debuted on July 15, 2020, with Act II following suit on Sept. 22 of this year. Netflix is also currently working on a live-action television adaptation of The Sandman, which is expected to debut on the streaming platform sometime next year.

KEEP READING: The Sandman: Why Netflix’s Adaptation Won’t Use John Constantine

Source: New York Comic Con

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