Neil Gaiman Reveals How He Got Benedict Cumberbatch To Play Satan In Good Omens

Benedict Cumberbatch

The upcoming adaptation of Good Omens should be a cracker. Based on the 1990 collaborative novel by the dearly missed Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the comedic plot centers around the birth of the son of Satan and the arrival of the apocalypse, featuring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, angels and demons trying to prevent the end of the world (as they’ve gotten used to a cosy domestic life in England) and a really bad case of mistaken identity when the Antichrist is switched for a normal baby.

With Neil Gaiman producing and acting as showrunner, the book should be a stylish and accurate representation of what he and Pratchett achieved in their well-regarded fantasy novel. On top of that, they’ve built up one hell of an impressive cast, including Michael Sheen and David Tennant as a bickering angel and demon odd couple, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Miranda Richardson, Frances McDormand (who voices God) and, just announced, Benedict Cumberbatch as the Prince of Darkness himself, Satan.

Casting like that is bound to draw some attention to the show, so how on Earth did they convince Cumberbatch to take the part? Well, Gaiman explained just that at a recent panel for the show, saying:

“Ben was just one of those lovely things of going, ‘we need somebody this good to make this scene work. Oh shit.’ … And it was that thing of going, OK, you know, it’s a small part, but if it doesn’t work, none of this sequence will work and just writing an email to Ben and saying, ‘Would you come and do this, please?’ “And the lovely thing, of course, is I can mention [the cast] and Frances and everything and he was there the next morning.”

He later gave us a couple of clues as to how Cumberbatch would appear and how the visual effects for the character would look, saying:

“[The animators] made sure that the face of Satan is also Ben. … We’ve gone for a kind of – except for the opening titles – we’ve gone for something that is fairly realistic all the way through. The kind of VFX where it is obviously VFX, but it’s not obviously VFX. So our Satan – essentially a 500-foot high multi-horned Satan from your nightmares – gets to turn up.”

Sounds pretty badass. Even better, we don’t have too long to wait to check out the full thing, as Good Omens lands on Amazon Prime on May 31st.

About the author

David James

David James

London-based writer about everything and anything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil.