SLEEPY HOLLOW: The Cast and Producers Tease Bringing Ichabod Crane to 2013
September 16, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has been adapted many different ways over the years, but it’s hard to argue that any has been as daring as the new Fox series, SLEEPY HOLLOW: the show focuses on Ichabod Crane, who in this telling has mysteriously arrived in modern-day Sleepy Hollow…240-plus years after he was last conscious. Once in 2013, he has to team up with a cop, Abbie — who has her own reasons to keep a distance from him — to try and stop the Headless Horseman.
In trying to describe the show, it sounds absolutely crazy. But in execution, for me, it ended up being one of the most enjoyable pilots of the new season.
“It is a crazy idea, I think if those crazy ideas are done correctly, they’re the ones that really become something,” SLEEPY HOLLOW executive producer Mark Goffman noted. “The ideas that are not as crazy sometimes are just safe and boring. So if you take a crazy idea for something that’s almost a ridiculous concept, but if you take that ridiculous concept and turn it into something you can do correctly, I think you’ve got something really fun.”
“I think part of what’s fun about it for the characters is that they too have to accept the insanity of what’s happening to them,” co-creator Roberto Orci explained. “It’s not like we’re suddenly throwing them into the situation and they’re like, ‘It’s normal; it’s natural.’ Particularly, Nicole [Beharie]‘s character, Abbie, she’s like the audience in many ways. She’s the one saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. What’s happening here? I need to believe it.’ And the struggle between what you see and what you feel and how you reconcile these two things. When everything you’ve been told is rational and sane is suddenly not, it’s actually the opposite.”
Of course, because the producers are taking liberties with the original short story, they’ve gotten some, um, interesting feedback about concerns.
“My favorite criticism is, ‘You got the headless horseman, sure, I understand, but with a machine gun? That’s ridiculous!'” co-creator Alex Kurtzman laughed.
“There’s a grounded reality to this show we want to capture between the main characters,” Goffman said. “Ichabod, he’s much farther along, because he’s already in an unreality — it’s 240 years later. But for both of them, as they try and work through seeing things that no one else has really seen before, they have to process that, and we slow down the story and let that sink in, as we would for an audience member. That’s part of the fun of getting the heightened chaos at the same time as seeing real people go through this. How would I react if this was happening to me?…It’s an adventure, and that’s what I loved about it. There’s a lot of incredibly high stakes, there’s a lot of really fun moments and shocks and horrors throughout. But at the end, I had a smile on my face the whole time I watched. It’s an adventure. It’s really fun.”
For the actors, they’re also relishing jumping into the world of the modern-day Sleepy Hollow.
“As soon as I finished reading the [pilot] script, I went, ‘Hm, I need to read that again,'” Tom Mison (Ichabod) shared. “Just the balls of it. It’s such a bold thing to try and make for TV, and it’s so wildly imaginative. I had to re-read it to believe it.”
And the writers are keeping him on his toes even now as filming is underway.
“I get emails from the writers going, ‘What do you think about this? Or this guy?'” Mison laughed. “And nothing else, and just leaves me to think about that. Writers torturing actors!” (A recent example of an email? “How are you with horseback riding?” Mison’s response: “I’m English; I’m excellent at it.”)
As for Beharie, the potential to dig into her character’s history has her eagerly anticipating the newest scripts.
“I think there’s a complexity and a backstory that Abbie has that I’m really interested in exploring,” Beharie said. “The relationship she has with her sister and with seeing things and not being really certain, I really liked that. Because that’s what the threat is between Ichabod and Abbie. And that creates a strong enough relationship that we can move forward, but she’s always had that element of doubt.”
And if you’re worried that the potential for gore might make the show too dark, SLEEPY HOLLOW star Orlando Jones (Captain Irving) promised that won’t be the case.
“It’s funny,” Jones noted. “You don’t expect it, and it’s weird, when you say SLEEPY HOLLOW, but it’s funny. You will chuckle and laugh and get tickled inside at certain things. It’s not like it’s all spooky or gore. It’s without a genre, which is so exciting, because in comedy, nobody cares about the drama, and in drama, nobody cares about the comedy. We’re just totally in a world where you can fully realize a character in a way that you can’t in movies or television. It’s really a special show.”
SLEEPY HOLLOW debuts tonight at 9 PM on Fox.
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