The Story Behind Stardust: “It mostly started in 1991,” explained Gaiman. “Charles and I won the world fantasy award for Sandman 19: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We were out in Tucson, Arizona where we actually astonished ourselves and everybody else by winning the award. We astonished everybody else to the point that the judges, the secret committee behind the judging, got together the following morning and changed the rules so it could never happen again.
That night I went out to a party held by a lady by the name of Terry Windling out in the desert. And in the Tucson desert, I got to watch a falling star. In England, they’re just sort of a streak of light across the sky. I discovered if you’re in the Tucson desert and you watch, it’s like this little diamond coming down. You go, ‘My God, that was….,’ just watching it. I thought, ‘What if you went to get that falling star?’ And then I thought, ‘And what if it wasn’t a star, it was a girl. And what if she had a broken leg and a foul-temper and had no desire to be dragged halfway across the world and presented to anybody’s would-be fiancée?’ Suddenly, there was the story.
I went back to the hotel, found Charlie who was at a different party, hauled him out of the party - holding a bottle of celebratory champagne. I said, ‘Okay, let me tell you this story. I think I’ve come up with something.’ I told him everything that was in my head about the story and then at the end he smiled and said, ‘I can’t wait to draw it.’ And that really was where it began.
I started writing in 1994 or 1995. I was staying at Tori Amos’ house in London and I bought a fountain pen for the occasion because I thought I wanted to write it in longhand. I could not quite have told you why, but I thought it was a really good idea. Charles then cursed me because I photocopied the first chapter and sent it to him. He phoned me up and said, ‘Well, there were three words I could read...’ And after that it was just sort of a matter of writing it. A lot of the story was actually pushed into existence by me going, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to see Charles drawing so-and-so?’ And occasionally he’d draw something and I’d go, ‘That’s good. I’m going to bring that back.’”
Vess added, “The piece of paper that I would like to discover and maybe you’ve got it somewhere in your archives… I remember you writing a page, or page and a half, of what could be in the fairy market. I’ve never been able to find that again but I used that. There was no story at that point; we don’t need that. But it was just like, ‘Well, there could be a dancing bear,’ and on and on, just a big long list. Then I thought of various things I wanted in the fairy market and then did this big drawing because there was no text yet.”
“We did the art as a sort of presentation to publishers first,” said Gaiman. “So in ’93, Charles did a bunch of the paintings and so it’s sort of taken a while to wend its way into the world. It was published in ’98, I think, and then ’99 without the pictures because we looked at our contract and discovered that DC had given us those rights without really noticing they had. The rest is history or economics or something.”
Stardust the Movie Gets Neil Gaiman’s Stamp of Approval: “It’s really incredibly wonderfully, thrillingly exciting. [I’m saying that] because it’s good,” declared Gaiman. “And really, Charles and I only found out over the last two weeks. I worked with Matthew Vaughn and Jane [Goldman] a little on the script and I’ve been there through casting, and I was there through pre-production. Then the day that they started production, I flew back to America and then went off to Australia and bounced around the world. And I was just sort of very nervous, frankly, of what was going on in Skye and Iceland and Pinewood [Studios]. Then two weeks ago I got down to Pinewood. They walked into the screening theater there and they showed me half an hour of footage. I wound up with a grin on my face that you couldn’t have removed with an ax.
It’s my thing and it’s working. They made it into a film - and it’s good. It’s funny and the scary bits - they didn’t actually show any of the scary bits, but the scary bits are scary. Michele Pfeiffer is absolutely f**king terrifying. Robert De Niro is terrific and Ricky Gervais is hilarious. The Prince is Rupert Everett. I do wish they’d had the Rupert Everett sequence."