SLEEPY HOLLOW: New Boss Clifton Campbell on Making Abbie and Ichabod Central, Bringing the Fun Back, and More | Give Me My Remote

SLEEPY HOLLOW: New Boss Clifton Campbell on Making Abbie and Ichabod Central, Bringing the Fun Back, and More

September 30, 2015 by  

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Credit: Fox

SLEEPY HOLLOW is returning for its third season on October 1st…with quite a few changes in store.

Tom Mison’s Ichabod and Nicole Beharie’s Abbie are still leading the way as humanity’s best hope at avoiding a full-on apocalypse (with help from Lyndie Greenwood’s Jenny), but the show lost Orlando Jones’ Irving — who exited the series over the hiatus — as a vital ally. And since Team Witness defeated John Noble’s Henry and Katia Winter’s Katrina were killed off in the final episodes of the show’s second season, the show needed some new blood to fill their shoes.

Enter Nikki Reed (who is playing Betsy Ross, Crane’s former partner), Shannyn Sossamon (who is playing the show’s new Big Bad, Pandora), Lance Gross (who is playing Abbie’s boss, Daniel Reynolds), and season 2 guest star Zach Appelman, (who played Corbin’s son, Joe), all of whom are now regulars on the drama.

The series also changed bosses over the hiatus: Clifton Campbell joined the show, replacing departing showrunner Mark Goffman.

“I saw there were a few things that [SLEEPY HOLLOW] very subtly needed to recalibrate to bring the fun back to the show, to bring the characters of Abbie and Crane front and center,” Campbell acknowledged.

I spoke with him about taking on the show, what’s next for the Witnesses, the new Big Bad, building out a season-long flashback tale, and more…

How familiar were you with the show before you came on as showrunner?
Clifton Campbell: I was very passively familiar with the show. I had seen a few episodes of the show in the first season. I sort of lost track — and frankly lost interest — in season 2 for reasons that have been said by a lot of people; it just fell of my queue.

But when the opportunity came up, I was very excited to get to know more about the show and its intentions. I quickly got up to speed. I saw there were a few things that [SLEEPY HOLLOW] very subtly needed to recalibrate to bring the fun back to the show, to bring the characters of Abbie and Crane front and center, and subtly build that [base] around them, so that the story could be a little more episodic.

Was your main goal to refocus on Abbie/Ichabod? Or was there something else you viewed as your top priority?
CC: No, that really was the focus — to bring out that relationship, to allow it to develop, to get deeper. And sometimes to do that, you have to build out the characters around them, so they’re all sharing [stories] when trying to round out closed, episodic mysteries.  And to become a little more monster of the week without losing the good parts of the mythology.

The seasons before, season 2 in particular, that became so overwhelming that you really didn’t have the chance to know the characters on a deeper level, in a balanced way. Their character development was the mythology; it was less fun because of that. Job one was to bring the fun back.

What is the ratio this year of mythology versus monster of the week?
CC: It’s not a hard and fast rule, percentage wise. We have a device this season with the Big Bad, that allows us to bring a demon into each and every episode with a specific purpose. And along the way, deepen the character relationships. We’ll play out an overarching season mythology without slowing down the A-story.

Looking towards this season’s big threat, what can you say about Pandora?
CC: Pandora and Pandora’s box are legends and myths that everybody knows something about. We have a Pandora who comes from beyond a different era. The idea of Pandora has played out in a number of cultures over the millennia. The one we landed on was the old gods, more than 4000 years ago. It still plays on the same idea that she was charged with bringing evil to the world, to remind humans that they should in fact fear their God. It’s given us a great way to bring a lot of the ancient legends back into the fold, and to find very specific fears to bring out of our Witnesses.

There’s been a sizable time jump between seasons. What can you say about what Ichabod has been up to since he lost his wife and son?
CC: The time skip between 2 and 3 was, for both, personal reflection and asking a lot of questions about their place in the world. In Crane’s case, it’s complicated by the fact that he’s a man out of time. That sends him on his personal walkabout, sends him to his homeland in Scotland, and some revelations about his own family. And a tablet he finds in his family plot suggests that he’s been on this path a lot longer than he realizes. That tablet, he finds in his family plot, really does play heavily into his role as a Witness, and his and Abbie’s relationship as Witnesses.

Speaking to that relationship, what can you say about where Abbie’s headspace is when she reunites with Ichabod? And what will Abbie’s personal path be this season?
CC: Certainly she missed him. Bittersweet he’s back; mostly for the reason: seemingly, the evil has returned.

Season 3 is really framed as the start of the second tribulation — the second of seven that are mentioned in the bible. Also…the first tribulation, we felt because seasons 1 and 2 were literally seconds apart, it was all about Moloch and the apocalypse and Henry and Katrina. But once they were all destroyed and victory was ours, we realized, after a time skip, the second tribulation, and Crane and Abbie will answer the bell.

What will the relationship between Abbie and Jenny be like when we see them in season 3?
CC: They come back in a really great place. They’ve both grown personally and professionally — I don’t think Jenny intends to ever grow too mature, professionally, that would take the fun out of her character. But they’re in a very good place, and they dealt with a lot of their trials and tribulations, personally, from their childhood. And what was perceived in the first couple of seasons as disappointing decisions on Abbie’s part [in regards to] protecting her sister, they’ve moved past that. Their relationship is stronger. And we drop something which will challenge them both in a compelling way, which does end up playing into the overall arc of the season.

Is it a current thing that challenges them, or something from their past?
CC: It’s both. It’s something that Abbie does during her nine months to a year between seasons 2 and 3 — she goes, out of utter and complete curiosity, looking for her own place in the world. She looks for and discovers there’s more to her family than she knew. And she feels compelled to do a little digging. And the result of that is something that starts a nice arc for Jenny and Abbie.

He comes into play beyond the premiere, but what can you say about Abbie’s relationship with Agent Reynolds?
CC: They met at Quantico during their training program, and found they had a lot in common professionally. They shared a similar skill set, and a real affinity for that level of law enforcement. They also found they enjoyed each other’s company a great deal. They felt that once they both graduated and moved on with their careers, their paths would never cross again. It is sort of a surprise to both of them when he comes back and he is her boss.

They have an interesting chemistry we’ve seen in play, suddenly show up in her backyard. And the balancing of that, and trying to juggle the personal with the professional is something we have a lot of fun with this season.

Betsy Ross is playing a sizable role in this season. What can you tease about what fans can expect of her?
CC: The show’s always done “twistory,” the history flashbacks that confound our expectations of what we think we know about American history. But they always [were episodic and] worked backwards from any given story. This year, we’re trying to build an overall twistory, that has a beginning, middle, and end, and takes us all the way through. And it plays very specifically into our arc of the Big Bad of the season.

I imagine you can’t say much, but will we be seeing Betsy in any capacity outside of the flashbacks?
CC: Well, I don’t really want to say too much. I think the fun is watching how that unfolds.

Primarily, the starting point for Crane and Betsy Ross is they, too, had a partnership 250 years ago, as secret agents as part of George Washington’s ring of spies. She plays a similar role in Crane’s life that Abbie does [in present day]. When you work that closely with somebody, in situations that are often perilous, you grow a deep and very supportive bond. The twistory has to do with that and the relationship that is challenging emotionally, and yet successful in their mission.

There is a face from the past who will have a bigger role this season — Joe Corbin. What about that character clicked with you enough to bring him back as a part of the team?
CC: You know, when I was getting to know the show, watching season 2, I got to that episode where he was the Wendigo, and really enjoyed the script and really enjoyed the character. I knew immediately he was someone we could use to really explore and mine the relationship that all three — Joe, Jenny, and Abbie — had with August Corbin.

And bringing him back [meant we were able] to give Jenny someone to partner with, so in addition to being operatives in the Witness [mission], helping Crane and Abbie, they can also go on an emotional journey to find out more about his father and [the Mills sisters’] father figure, and really deepen the mythology out that way.

Will we be seeing any of the other characters from the first couple of seasons reappearing in season 3?
CC: We don’t have any guest stars that haven’t been floated out there as guest stars who are coming in for the season. We will not be bringing anybody back from the first two seasons.

Looking to the more episodic nature of the show, what kinds of demons/monsters can fans expect?
CC: Well, there’s the battlefield demon, which I know you saw in the premiere. And then we try and use some of the more popular demon figures we’re all familiar with, like the tooth fairy, and some good zombies we’re bringing to life…and down [the line] some mythology and monsters from Norse legends. There’s a real nice cross-section of demons, all to a purpose, will shake things up.

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