PaleyFest 2014: Mison, Beharie, Kurtzman, Orci, Wiseman, and Goffman Talk SLEEPY HOLLOW

     March 20, 2014


For more than 30 years, PaleyFest has held panel sessions and screenings that connect the worldwide community of television fans with the casts and creators of their favorite TV shows. One of the evenings was to celebrate the huge success of the first season of the Fox television series Sleepy Hollow.  The modern-day twist on the Washington Irving’s classic tale of Ichabod Crane seems like a completely insane story idea, but has instead proven to be a fun ride that is very entertaining to watch on a weekly basis.  Collider was there to attend the panel, and we’ve compiled some of the highlights.

During the evening, executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman and Mark Goffman, as well as actors Tom Mison (“Ichabod Crane”) and Nicole Beharie (“Lt. Abbie Mills”), talked about what’s up for the gang in Season 2, what type of new characters will show up, how Ichabod and Katrina will be dealing with their very complicated family drama, when the actors found out about what would happen in the season finale, how surprised they are that viewers want to see Ichabod and Abbie together, how monumental the fan response has been, whether Ichabod will ever change his clothes, and how there will be backstories for more of the characters.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.

sleepy-hollow-castWhat’s up for the gang in Season 2?  With War coming, what will that entail?

MARK GOFFMAN:  We’re very fortunate that John Noble will be back.  He’s going to be in town, and that’s going to be a major presence in Sleepy Hollow.  It’s a season about War.  It’s a season about redemption.  What do you do when your son becomes the Horseman of War in the apocalypse?  Assuming he gets out of the box that he’s in, Ichabod Crane is going to have to contemplate that. 

TOM MISON: How many episodes can I survive in a box, eating worms?  

Are there any new characters in store for the second season?

ROBERTO ORCI:  War doesn’t work by himself, so there’s a lot of amazing foot soldiers that are coming.  They’re familiar, but also amazingly original.

LEN WISEMAN:  One of the things that we wanted to bring to life was an opponent for the Headless Horseman, so we created a new creature that our team kind of controls, but doesn’t.  It’s a dangerous creation that Headless will actually have to come to face.  We wanted to create a character that’s as evil and scary as Headless. 

How do they make that happen?

WISEMAN:  You’ll have to see.  But, they have one element of the Headless Horseman in their possession. 

ORCI:  His head! 

GOFFMAN:  We have supernatural characters and we have some real people who will be populating the town, this season.  With Irving incarcerated, we have to figure out who’s going to be in charge of law and order in Sleepy Hollow.  That’s going to create conflict. 

How will Ichabod and Katrina be dealing with their very complicated family drama?

sleepy-hollow-len-wiseman-paleyfest-2014WISEMAN:  Well, it is their son that we’re talking about.  At the base of it, as evil as he is with what he did, it’s still their son.  It’s not going to be an easy one, to decide what to do with him.  Can you kill your own son?  That’s gonna cause conflict.

GOFFMAN:  It strikes the fundamental question we have about redemption.  Is anyone beyond redemption and hope?  There is so much hope in this show.  There’s the chance and the opportunity that they’re going to get past the apocalypse, and that’s what they’re fighting for.  That’s something that’s going to be really tough for them to battle with, all season long.

How much did the actors know about what was going to happen in the finale, going into it?

MISON:  I got a phone call from Alex [Kurtzman], actually.  We spent a couple of hours talking about it.  Alex was very excited to tell me about all of the things that were going to happen in the finale.  He was too excited.  He couldn’t wait for me to get the script, so he had to phone and spoil it for me.  So, I had already known about Henry being Ichabod’s son, but the War bit came as a surprise.  It was when Alex mentioned the sign, when you see where he got the name Henry Parish.  That’s another example of not only just being really cool, but also clever.  It’s a clever show.  With all of the call-backs to the clues, from the moment Henry arrives, I felt like an idiot.

NICOLE BEHARIE:  I actually found out [that Abbie was going to be stuck in purgatory] when I first read it, and I was like, “Nooo!”  And she’s all alone.  The thing about purgatory that freaked me out the most was the weird house with the two little girls.  The potential of staying there for however many years seems like something that Abbie, being a tough, cynical person, wouldn’t deal too well with, to say the least. 

Are you surprised that people want Ichabod and Abbie together so badly?

BEHARIE:  I don’t think that we even play into it, necessarily.  People just see what they want to see, and what they would like the two of them to become. 

MISON:  I had never heard of ‘shipping before.  I heard someone talking about ‘shipping and Ichabbie, and I had to Google it.  It’s a good thing, apparently. 

Will Ichabod be driving in Season 2?

BEHARIE:  Has Tom Mison learned to drive?

MISON:  I can’t drive.  I will learn with Ichabod. 

sleepy-hollow-tom-mison-paleyfest-2014Are you hoping for more stunts in the second season?  Do you enjoy that sort of thing?

MISON:  The first stunt that I did for it was in the pilot.  It was when the truck just narrowly misses.  Ichabod comes out of the ground and sees the road, and then there’s a truck that misses by inches.  And that was the first time I had ever done anything with green screen, and I was doing it with Len [Wiseman], who’s a master at it.  That’s still one of my most favorite moments in the show.    

WISEMAN:  I wanted that shot to have some interaction.  He doesn’t get hit by truck, but the side mirror on the car that goes by clips him on the elbow, so that it looks like he had a near miss.  To do that, we were on green screen and shot them separately.  When we were doing Tom’s part, there was this guy with a broom handle with a green screen ball taped on.  He just sat there and kept wacking Tom in the arm.  I was more tempted to put the dailies on the show.  This guy kept wacking him in the arm, really, really hard. 

MISON:  At one point, the little foam green thing on the end fell off, so it was just a man hitting me with a stick.

Has the success of this show surprised you?

ALEX KURTZMAN:  When Phil Iscove came in with the idea of taking these two short stories, he was very clear about saying, “I want to do a time travel story without time travel.”  And then, he said that he wanted to do Sleepy Hollow.  We said, “Sleepy Hollow is great, but it’s been done before.”  And he said, “What if you did it modern day?”  It was one of those ideas that was one molecule away from insane.  I think that’s why we responded to it.  Those kind of tightropes are very attractive.  If you can get it right, it’s very special.  If you get it wrong, you’re super fucked.  So, we knew from the beginning that, if it worked, it would be special.  What we couldn’t have predicted was how amazing our cast turned out to be.  They levitated it into existence in a way that was so credible and real and emotionally grounded.  This is just what we wanted to see.  There wasn’t anything like it on television, and certainly not on network television.  The fan base and the input from the fans has been so monumental for all of us.  We read everything and take it in.  It’s talked about in the writers’ room, all day long.  The fact that we can engage with the fans allows us to keep the show grounded in the things it needs to be grounded in.  So, in a weird way, we have the fans to thank for how much of a voice they’ve had in the process. 

MISON:  I’ve never really wanted to do anything in my career where you say, “Oh, yeah, this is good.  People dig this.”  I’ve always been far more drawn to things that could go completely ass over tip, which this absolutely could have.  This could have been a horrible experience for everyone watching, or it could have been really, really, really cool.  And I think it was the latter.  That’s what’s exciting for an actor, and I imagine for writers and directors as well.  You want to make something that’s bold and that you believe in, and you blindly hope that people go with you.

sleepy-hollow-orci-mison-paleyfest-2014Len, Bob and Alex, will you direct episodes in Season 2?

WISEMAN:  I would love to.  It is a hell of a lot of fun.  It really is.  It’s a mix of genres that I absolutely love.  It’s fun to be able to do a bit of horror and a bit of comedy, and I don’t get to do that that often.  It is like getting to play a bit.  So, I’d love to and actually plan to.

KURTZMAN:  I would love to do that, too.  I haven’t actually had a change to direct the show yet, but it would be a lot of fun. 

ORCI:  Our goal is to make sure no one else has a job in this town.  Obviously, we’d like to do it all.

Are you going to change Ichabod Crane’s clothes, at all?

MISON:  I hope not.  

WISEMAN:  The issue of clothing was such a big thing.  It was something that, early on, the studio was asking about.  They were like, “Are you going to change his clothes?  Is he going to be walking around in this uniform?”  And I said, “Absolutely not!”  It’s part of his character, and not just because it is visually, but it’s part of who he is.  He’s actually quite an arrogant, stubborn guy.  He has a polite arrogance about him.  He is the type of character that’s not going to change or conform.  So, yes, he could change his clothes, and we might approach it that somebody is trying to persuade him to do so.  Would his character do that?  I don’t think there’s a chance .

GOFFMAN:  His clothes are one of the only things he has left from his era.  It’s his comfort food.  It’s his safety blanket.  It’s a way to make him feel real and grounded in a world that is wholly gone to him.  That makes it a part of him that he doesn’t want to give up because everything else has changed. 

Will there be backstories on any of the other characters?

GOFFMAN:  The first season was about this characters playing catch up with this new world that they’re in.  Assuming that Abbie gets out of purgatory, at some point, I think it’s important to see her embrace this role as a witness.  She’ll really wonder what, in her past, has made her that character.  It’s gonna be a really fun ride to see.  And every person on the show has a really rich backstory that we’re going to get to see.  There’s a lot between the sisters that’s going to be revealed.  We’re hoping that Brooks comes back for some episodes, so we can get some flashback stuff.  At its heart, this show is a family.  With every character, we go through their family.  That’s absolutely what’s in store for Season 2, and hopefully many more seasons after.

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