The Fox TV series "Sleepy Hollow" is a modern-day twist on Washington Irving’s classic. Ichabod Crane (played by Tom Mison) is resurrected and pulled two-and-a-half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and only one of the many formidable foes that Ichabod must face to protect not only Sleepy Hollow, but the world. As Ichabod finds himself in 2013’s Sleepy Hollow, he discovers a town he no longer recognizes and grapples to understand. Teaming up with Lt. Abbie Mills (played by Nicole Beharie), a young cop who has her own supernatural experiences, the two embark on a mission to stop the evil that has awoken along with Ichabod and that now is seeping into this once-sleepy town.
Clues from the past enlighten mysteries in the present, as each episode features a flashback to Ichabod’s life in 1776. Ripe with untold stories from American history and cloaked in mythology, the divide between present and past becomes dangerously blurred. Lives are in the balance, including that of Ichabod’s late wife, Katrina (played by Katia Winter), who is trapped in a mysterious netherworld. In his pursuit to save her, Ichabod uncovers secrets about her, leaving him with countless questions. Not everyone believes Ichabod’s tales of 1776 and supernatural evils, especially the new head of Abbie’s police precinct, Capt. Frank Irving (played by Orlando Jones). When faced with bizarre events he can’t explain, Capt. Irving reluctantly turns to Ichabod and Abbie to investigate.
Ichabod’s extensive first-hand knowledge of our country’s hidden history, coupled with Abbie’s superior profiling and modern threat assessment skills, make them a formidable duo. The complex pasts of the pair, from Ichabod’s inclusion in the powerful and secretive Freemasons Society to Abbie’s childhood visions, will help them solve the intricate puzzles of Sleepy Hollow in order to protect its – and the world’s – future. As history repeats itself, the oddly-linked pair will draw on the real stories and secrets this nation was founded on in their quest to stop an increasingly vicious cycle of evil. Here is what Mison and Winter said during a roundtable interview with me and other journalists at New York Comic-Con in 2013.
What’s it like to do those scenes where you communicate with each other through your minds?
Mison: It’s not really anything I’ve ever had to do in my career before. They’re fun. And as the series progresses, there’s a lot more about Katrina and [Ichabod] Crane outside the netherworld and how and why they met and their lives together in [the 18th century] and how their lives and how that then effects the impending apocalypse.
What can we expect to see of Ichabod and Katrina’s past lives together?
Winter: There’s definitely going to be a lot more of that back story. You’re going to get to know why Katrina dissipates. I’m looking forward to people getting to know our history a little bit more. You’ll understand the scenes a little more; they’ll have more weight.
Mison: It’s important to know why the marriage is such that Ichabod can risk forgetting the apocalypse in order to save his wife. But then more than that, Katrina’s one of the most powerful characters in it. She’s a witch. She’s the only one on the side of the good who can actually fight these demons properly. So it’s fun seeing that.
If Katrina and Ichabod ever reunite, how will that affect the relationship and possible romance between Abbie and Ichabod?
Mison: These wild assumptions! Assuming that there’s something with Abbie. I’m looking forward to seeing it as much as you are.
Can you talk about the humor in “Sleepy Hollow”?
Mison: The writers are acutely aware that they can’t write something as audacious as this without supporting it with something funny. It allows us to be very serious about the netherworld apocalypse. The characters can be very serious and focused on that. The show as a whole gets the joke and can give you a little wink at the end of our earnestness.
“Sleepy Hollow” in some ways defies being put in one genre. When you first worked on “Sleepy Hollow,” how did you describe it to your family and friends?
Winter: I don’t know. It has a bit of everything.
Mison: I remember talking to my mum when we were shooting the pilot. And she asked what we were doing that day, and I was telling her about a man with no head chasing me around with an axe, explaining the show and the ideas and the season as a whole. And she was baffled. And she said, “Do you think maybe you want to do more Shakespeare or something?”
It’s weird, and I’m sure Katia would agree that for such a long time before anyone saw it, any attempts to describe it, I had to end it with, “But it’s really good,” because I hadn’t worked out how to describe it. Even when we were at San Diego Comic-Con, just look back on the takes of us trying to get people to watch it. “But it’s really good.”
In Washington Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod Crane is a bit of a coward, but your “Ichabod Crane” is not. He’s got a photographic memory and other qualities that the original Ichabod Crane did not have. Do you feel that your Ichabod Crane is too perfect or too chivalrous?
Mison: Oh, you and your silver tongue! I think he’s very good at hiding his fear. I think everything is definitely there, but his pride won’t let him show it. And the second part of your question, that’s definitely where Katrina comes in. The stuff with Katrina is where you get to explore a different side of Crane.
Will we see Ichabod adapt to modern technology better? For example, will we see him have an iPhone?
Mison: Yes, we’ll keep exploring that. It’s too fun not to. It’s always a very good way to have slight, unimposing social commentary, like the episode that had the donut holes and the fury about tax, which is quite true. This country was formed because a 2 percent tax was outrageous.
And there are various other [things] to do with the state of the world and pollution. There’s lots of stuff we can do with that, as well as it being very funny. And I think it’s a bit of a saving grace. Like I said, without the humor, it would probably fall flat on its tits.
Do you like to stay in character in between takes? How do you like embodying a character from the 18th century?
Mison: There’s definitely a different Ichabod that you see in the present and in the past, which is really fun to explore. And it’s nice to know that in the present, our scenes are very, very different. I’m not Method, no. I have washed.
When it comes to practical effects with the apparitions in “Sleepy Hollow,” what do you see when you do those scenes versus what ends up on screen?
Mison: We have an excellent makeup guy called Corey Castellano, who is responsible for the burned witch that you saw in the first episode, the Sandman, and all of the monsters you see coming up are thanks to him. He also brushes my beard. So we’re responding to things that are right there.
There’s got to be at least one character in “Sleepy Hollow” who is not what he or she seems to be. Do you know which character that is? And if not, who do you think it is?
Mison: It’s fun second-guessing everything. Even in the pilot, you have John Cho’s character, who you think is a good guy, and then instantly, he’s a bad guy and dies. And then in the next episode, he’s back. You can’t really trust anything.
Winter: And just because you work for the bad side doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. There could be reasons for why you work for the bad side. It’s a very gray area.
What can you say about any physical challenges you have for “Sleepy Hollow”?
Mison: Yeah, they’re determined to kill me! That’s also part of the fun. I think all of us would agree that there are very few jobs like this that give you so much as actors to play around with. So that’s just an extra little treat, to run around with swords and do some of the pratfalls.
For more info: "Sleepy Hollow" website