John Noble Talks SLEEPY HOLLOW Season 2, What His Character Has Been Doing, Getting to Play Multi-Layered Characters, and More

     September 22, 2014


After its shocking Season 1 finale, the hit Fox drama series Sleepy Hollow is back for Season 2, with all-new crazy and wild adventures, as the heroic duo of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) must again fend off the forces of evil to save not only their town, but the world.  Henry Parish (John Noble) was the only one who came away from the events of last season unscathed, as Ichabod was buried alive in a coffin, Abbie was trapped in purgatory, Ichabod’s wife, Katrina (Katia Winter), was kidnapped by the Headless Horseman, Capt. Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) was behind bars for a murder he did not commit, and Abbie’s sister, Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood), was among the wreckage of a horrific car crash.  Obviously, there wouldn’t be a show anymore if that meant the end for all of those characters, so the fun will be in seeing how they make it out of those precarious situations.

During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor John Noble (who gives a fantastically stand-out performance as Henry Parish, aka the Horseman of War) talked about how lucky he feels to play such complex and multi-layered characters, what attracted him to Sleepy Hollow, that he knew his character’s arc before he started last season, so that he could lay in little hints along the way, always focusing on the human aspect and the family, what fans can expect from Season 2, what Henry has been up to since we saw him get his revenge, and whether it’s possible for his character to ever find some redemption.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

sleepy-hollow-john-nobleCollider:  As an actor, what’s it been like to get to play such complex, multi-layered characters, and to go from a character like Walter Bishop on Fringe to Henry Parish on Sleepy Hollow?

JOHN NOBLE:  There’s a star that shines above me somewhere that has given me, throughout my career on stage and in film and television, some absolutely beautiful roles.  Whatever that star is, I want to hold onto it.  It’s a lot of luck, I reckon.

Sleepy Hollow became such a hit, so fast.  Were you nervous, at all, about joining the show, and were you also relieved that the fans really did embrace you? 

NOBLE:  Interestingly enough, none of those thoughts entered my head.  I know Roberto [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] very well, and I consider them to be friends, but also just wonderful creators.  So, when Alex rang me about it, he almost had me at hello.  And then, when he outlined what he had in mind for the first season, it was too delicious to not consider it.  But, it was mainly because of those two guys being involved.  I really hadn’t intended to come back to television, and certainly not so soon.  That’s what happens.  Those guys are lovely, but they’re also just so creative and supportive.  That’s the reason I did it.

sleepy-hollow-john-nobleWell, if you’re going to follow up a character like Walter Bishop, Henry Parish is a great way to do it. 

NOBLE:  Yeah, I was really, really lucky.  I went back to Australia for awhile and got to do some really interesting work in Australia.  I did a mini-series that’s actually showing there now, called Devil’s Playground, which is really fantastic.  And then, I came back to do a stage play New York, which was really challenging.  I’m either lucky, or maybe that’s just where my antenna leads me to.  I really love the complex characters.  I literally get uncomfortable with two-dimensional characters.  I don’t know what to do with them.  There are some people that manage to do them so well, but I would feel like an idiot.

When they did outline this role for you, how much were you told ahead of time?  Did you know exactly where the story would go, last season?

NOBLE:  Yeah, I knew the arc of last season, absolutely.  I had to know the arc of last season because from when he appeared, he was laying down little tiny hints or Easter eggs, or whatever you want to call them, all over the place, but we had to play them really subtlely and carefully.  By the end of it, the other actors had actually forgotten what was going on.  It was very cool when we came to the finale, last year.

sleepy-hollow-john-nobleWhich was more mind-blowing for you, the fact that you are the son of Ichabod Crane and Katrina, or that you are the embodiment of War? 

NOBLE:  Always more interesting to me is the human aspect and the family.  That is the glue that holds things together.  Fringe essentially became a family drama with this exquisite background.  It’s the family stuff that I love.  From what I hear, and I still hear a lot about Fringe, the family relationships were so important.  Being the embodiment of War is a great gag, but it wouldn’t have gotten me rushing into the series.  It’s a really interesting plot ploy.

Without giving anything away, what can fans expect from where the story picks up, in Season 2?

NOBLE:  We finished the season with that cliffhanger, where everyone except Henry was out of commission or dead.  Henry was the only one left standing, really, at the end of last year.  So, we had this really complicated task of how to start the season.  You can’t just do a one-man show, with the one remaining cast member.  And the writers worked so carefully to make sure not only that we answered those questions for the fans, but that new people coming in won’t be completely lost and say, “What on earth is going on?”  That was a real challenge, and from what I know, I think we have achieved that.  I haven’t seen the episodes, but I was talking to Mark Goffman, our showrunner, and he said that the first eight episodes, which is all that we’ve completed, are sensational.  He’s really thrilled, and so is Fox.  I only see little bits in ADR, but that was great to hear.  But Henry has already achieved his major goal, which was to punish his parents.  So, what does Henry do now?  Of course, he was resurrected by Moloch, to be a servant of Moloch and to enable the manifestation of Moloch on earth for the end of times.  What we see from Henry is that he’s in every episode, but he’s not too connected to these people.  He’s almost like a puppet master, just causing really bad things to happen, and he sits back and watches.  And there’s a beautiful pay-off to all of that in Episode 11, for the mid-season finale.  But you really won’t know, until that episode, what on earth he’s doing.  It’s like that Tom Waits song, “What’s He Building In There?”  That could be his theme song.  That’s a fairly good key, as to what’s going on with him.

sleepy-hollow-john-nobleBecause everyone is initially so scattered around, will you have much interaction with the other characters, or will that come later on?

NOBLE:  What has to happen is that there has to be connection between Ichabod and Henry, but there is very little, and that’s odd.  Tom [Mison] and I have only worked together a little bit, this year.  I know that we’ll rectify that.  There’s a lot of stuff with Katrina, which has been fascinating.  And there’s stuff with the manifestation of Headless, played by a very fine actor, called Neil Jackson.  We’ve got some terrific guest actors this season.  It’s a really interesting 11 episodes, which lead up to an apocalyptic finale for the first half.  It’s an amazing ride.  What happens beyond that, it’s too early to tell.  We then half to have another reboot, at the end of that, and no one knows what will happen there.  Well, I do, but I’m not going to let anything out about that.  There are some amazing manifestations of evil, which you could call monsters of the week, out of the deep subconscious of man.  It’s the unknown that fascinates and frightens the life out of us.  And these creatures are really interesting characters with some form of human manifestation that’s really clever.  So, there are lots of good things to come.

Will Henry Parish still resemble the version of him that we got to know in Season 1, or is he totally unleashed, now that he doesn’t have to hide who he is anymore? 

NOBLE:  The interesting thing about Henry in the second season is that he has very little interaction with Ichabod and Abbie.  He has a little bit with Jenny in the first episode, which I really enjoyed.  But beyond that, he seems to do a lot of stuff by himself.  He has this major plan that is fascinating.  You also learn, quite early, that he has become a lawyer.  That can’t happen overnight, but he was pulled out of the grave and he had to learn how to survive.  He basically had to somehow get adjusted, get a job and get educated.  My thoughts are that he used these years to become educated.  I do believe that he got a law degree as part of his preparation.  That was an interesting route for me to play through.  They’re all part of long-term planning by Henry or Jeremy, or whatever you call him.  We call him Henry now.  All of the characters have got interesting stuff to do, and we’ve got a couple of new characters that I think are terrific.

sleepy-hollow-john-nobleIs it possible for Henry to find some sort of redemption, at this point, or is he just way beyond that? 

NOBLE:  When I discussed going forward, I said, “There must be hope for redemption,” otherwise you go into a two-dimensional bad guy.  I wasn’t interested in that, and I don’t think fans are either, but I’m just judging from my experience on Fringe.  So, what we need to do, at all times, is believe that there’s redemption.  It would be heartbreaking for the family, if there’s no chance of redemption.  Whether he’ll get there or not is yet to be determined, but I certainly play, in my mind, a belief that there is something there.  There are still glimpses of humanity in the man.  He fights against them, and he gets really cold and hard and it looks like he doesn’t feel a thing.  There are still glimpses of humanity coming through, but he just chops it off.  That’s been fun to play, as well.  I hope that there’s at least some resolution to the redemption issue, in some way.  I don’t think he’ll get a fairy tale redemption where we all live happily ever after.  I can’t see that happening in this show.  Maybe it will be something more sophisticated.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I look forward to reading it.

Sleepy Hollow airs on Monday nights on Fox.


Sleepy Hollow Season 2 John Noble Interview

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