(A version of this story was published in the Nov. 8, 2013 Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.)
As the resurrected time-traveling Ichabod Crane in Fox’s modern-day take on “Sleepy Hollow,” British actor Tom Mison battles the rejuvenated Headless Horseman, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Mison’s character from 1776 also has to adjust to the new world he has been thrust into while fighting the forces of evil alongside Sleepy Hollow Police Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), which leads to some lighter, humorous moments in the show.
The show’s diversity and the chance to play such a challenging character were what attracted Mison, 31, to the series, which airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on Fox.
“It was something that had so many elements to it, and the show as a whole throws in so many different styles and different genres, and Ichabod is caught up in the middle of that. I mean, you don’t get parts like this very often,” Mison said during a media conference call. ”When this job came up, there were other offers thrown at me that wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge, and I knew that if I took on Ichabod Crane in this incarnation of Sleepy Hollow it’s going to be a tough job and it’s going to keep me on my toes and keep my imagination fired up. I mean there’s nothing better than that. It’s good to work hard,” Mison said
The actor was not dismayed over “Sleepy Hollow’s” somewhat farfetched concept.
“I always like to have faith that an audience will suspend their disbelief if you present it to them in the right way,” Mison said. “I find it peculiar when people scoff at one bold idea, and yet they’ll then turn over and watch a man travel through time in a police phone box.”
“I think it’s just how you present the idea, and between (co-creators and executive producers) Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Len Wiseman, their careers have been built on asking people to suspend their disbelief, because I think once you do that, once you can get an audience to go with you on an idea, then you can just go anywhere, and that’s where the fun stuff happens.”
The question of whether Ichabod will switch from his ancient apparel to modern clothes will be answered soon.
“In terms of the character; he’s a long way from home, and 250 years away from home, so anything that he can hold on to from his time, I think he certainly will,” Mison said. “So, any time you think of how much he stinks, just think of it as a big stinking security blanket that he carries around with him. But, yes, that will be addressed shortly.”
Mison has collaborated with the showrunners and the writers from the very beginning of the show in developing the traits of his character, which range from his cleverness to the way he sincerely and humorously reacts to the “wonders” of the modern world.
“They come from long discussions from day one; from before we started shooting the pilot,” Mison said. ”As soon as I met Len and Alex and Bob Orci, we all kind of had similar ideas about what Ichabod should be, and this sort of story that we all think would be the most exciting, and yes, there’s constant discussions between me and the writers. They’re very open to my ideas, and I love all of theirs, so, yeah, it’s kind of a balance.”
John Noble has a recurring guest-starring role on “Sleepy Hollow,” and Mison shared what it’s been like working with the former “Fringe” star.
“It’s really remarkable. Our first scene together, it’s just me and him sitting opposite each other at a table, and he came in and sat down and we did the scene. And, I was quite surprised when someone shouted ”cut,” because I forgot that there were cameras and other people about the place. Because, when you’re acting with someone like John you just completely lose yourself in it. He’s mesmerizing. He’s brilliant.”
Mison said the chemistry between him and co-star Beharie was evident from the beginning, and the parallels in their acting styles contribute to their rapport.
“I think we’re very similar actors. We both like to play with what the other actor gives us, and we both like to be generous with each other. We know that the good stuff, and what everyone refers to as chemistry, is actually generosity. … It’s nice to throw things at an actor and be excited and surprised by what they throw back. … She’s as wonderful off screen as she is on. It’s always a nice thing to find friends on a job, and I think I certainly have with her.”
– Melissa Hayer
Follow me on Twitter: @MelissaHayer