- Neil Gaiman shares failed attempts to respond to a studio note on an earlier Good Omens adaptation, highlighting the challenges in bringing the book to screen.
- Gaiman’s desire for creative control led him to withdraw from television projects, setting the stage for his current success in overseeing Good Omens as a TV show.
- Terry Gilliam’s proposed Good Omens movie would have taken a different direction, with potential casting choices and plot changes, but the TV show’s faithfulness to the source material has contributed to its success.
Good Omens co-creator Neil Gaiman has revealed his failed attempts to respond to a studio note on earlier plans for a live-action adaptation of the book he co-authored with Terry Pratchett. Long before Prime Video released their critically acclaimed television adaptation, Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam had plans to make his own Good Omens movie dating as far back as the 1990s. Funding for the project failed to materialize, and despite Gilliam’s hopes to reignite interest in the movie after the success of Gaiman’s 2007 movie Stardust, the project would never enter production.
More recently, while responding to a question posed by a fan on Tumblr about why David Tennant’s Crowley doesn’t have a human job like Aziraphale, Gaiman revealed that he once received a studio note about the issue on his first-ever attempt at writing a script.
Explaining that the studio wished to see Crowley with his own job, and Aziraphale be given a better occupation than a bookseller, Gaiman attempted to work these requested changes into his next draft. However, being new to the scriptwriting process, Gaiman admits that “it wasn’t very convincing.”
Why It’s A Good Thing The Good Omens Movie Never Happened
Widely hailed as one of the most influential fantasists of the modern era, Gaiman’s initial flirtations with the world of film and television did not always go as smoothly as expected. Beyond his initial drafts for a Good Omens movie, Gaiman’s first real foray into writing for television came in the form of the 1996 British fantasy show Neverwhere. After being disappointed with the production limitations imposed on him during that show, he would immediately pull out of working on another television project citing his desire to be in far more control than that which was typically afforded to a writer.
While Gaiman now commands the kind of creative control he once yearned for in the 1990s, had Gilliam managed to succeed in his plans for a Good Omens movie, it is likely the final product would have ended up very different to the original book. With Gilliam reportedly considering Johnny Depp and Robin Williams for the roles of Crowley and Aziraphale, the pair’s dynamic and onscreen chemistry would have been vastly different to that which Tennant and Michael Sheen were able to demonstrate. Moreover, much of the book’s plot would have needed to be trimmed down and simplified to accommodate a typical movie runtime.
The decision to not only turn Good Omens into a television show, but one which placed one of its original authors in creative control of the project, is what has been primarily responsible for its enormous success. While it is interesting to theorize what Gilliam’s Good Omens movie may have looked like, Prime Video’s hit show remains faithful to the source material in a way that a film never would have been able to accomplish.
Source: Neil Gaiman/Tumblr