Sleepy Hollow Panel at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

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Since first airing in September 2013, Fox‘s apocalyptic fantasy series Sleepy Hollow has met with huge success both domestically and in the UK. In the US, its first episode was the network’s highest rated Fall drama premiere since 2006, and the show was commissioned for a second season incredibly quickly, after just three episodes had been broadcast. At this Spring’s MCM Birmingham Comic Con, stars of the show Nicole Beharie (Lt. Grace “Abbie” Abigail Mills), Lyndie Greenwood (Jennifer “Jenny” Mills) and Katia Winter (Katrina Crane), talked to fans about what it’s been like to be a part of that.

To get things started, they spoke about when they had first realised that the show was a hit. Although the viewing figures were excitedly passed on to them all during filming, the actors explained that it wasn’t until their hiatus in December that they really got a proper sense of the show’s growing popularity, since it was then that people started to recognise them in public. Even now, they said, it’s still surprising and thrilling to see so many of their fans in the UK.

Asked what it was that had first attracted them to the roles, each gave different answers. For Katia Winter, it was her character’s supernatural powers, along with the period element. Lyndie Greenwood, meanwhile, was excited to see Jenny described as a “Sarah Connor type”. For Nicole Beharie, the creative team behind the show was a big draw: she was massively enthusiastic about for the quality of the writing and characterisation. She also spoke about the diversity of the cast and characters, something which remains fairly unusual, even in sci-fi and fantasy series.

An audience member then asked who their favourite characters from the show were, and the panel agreed it was a tough question. Katia picked out Jeremy Crane as being particularly interesting, while Nicole liked the idea of Andy Brooks (played by John KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACho) as a “decaying love interest”.

“I’ll go with Jennifer Mills,” Lyndie laughed, adding, “Moloch is good, too.”

Discussion then moved on to behind-the-scenes details, with John Cho and Orlando Jones (who plays Captain Frank Irving) nominated as the “jokers” of the cast. Despite his character’s very serious nature, Jones made his name in comedy on sketch show MADtv, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that he would prove to be the funniest cast member.

Meanwhile, the most difficult parts of making the show, according to the panellists, have been the intense filming schedules and scenes involving a lot of CGI. Nicole described it as “a blessing to work with other actors” after having to run terrified from the tennis balls and bits of tape used to stand in for demons and monsters.

Outside of filming though, some of their favourite memories of working on Sleepy Hollow have been the times when they’ve felt most appreciated by their viewers. Katia said that she had been overwhelmed by the number of fans they met with at the New York Comic Con, while Nicole remembered reading people’s first responses to the show on Twitter, and being particularly thrilled by how it seemed to have engaged and inspired young women.

Asked to choose a favourite episode, Lyndie picked “Vessel” because she’d enjoyed acting “possessed”. Finding that the episodes had begun to blur into one big story, Katia struggled to chose just one, but mentioned enjoying all the parts that explored Katrina’s backstory, particularly the moment when she first reveals her love for Ichabod. Reserving the right to change her answer, meanwhile, Nicole said that her current favourite was the finale, though in the past she has chosen others.

Briefly putting themselves in the shoes of the writers to talk about what they’d like to see included in the show, both Lyndie and Katia said that they’d love to show more of their characters’ histories: Jenny has a troubled and colourful past that has yet to be fully explained while, as Katia pointed out, no one really yet knows where or when Katrina came from. Keen to exploit her own Swedish heritage, she mused about the possibility of Katrina being much older than her husband, perhaps coming from Northern Europe in the Viking era. Nicole, too, would like to see the show extend its reach beyond the confines of Sleepy Hollow. Noting that Ichabod is an English history professor and describing how much she’d enjoyed coming over for the MCM con, she said she’d jump at the chance to do some filming in the UK.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOn the subject of comic conventions, the panel were asked what it was like to see other people cosplaying their characters. Laughing, Nicole said that, since she’s actually quite small, some of the people she’s seen dressing up as Abbie manage to look tougher than she does!

Moving onto what we can expect from Season Two, the next question was about how Katrina and Ichabod might cope with life in the modern world without Abbie there as a cultural reference point (no spoilers for anyone who has yet to see the full series). None of the cast were entirely sure, though Katia did point out that Katrina will be starting out with a better understanding of the 21st century than Ichabod did: while he has been dead for 250 years, she could have seen a little of how things have changed by looking out from Purgatory. The actors also pondered what she might wear, with Katia joking that she “couldn’t really imagine [Katrina] in jeans”.

On a more personal topic, the panellists then spoke about what had initially sparked their interest in acting. Interestingly, both Lyndie and Katia said that it hadn’t been their first choice of career. Katia, who had once hoped to join the police force, said that she had always had a passion for film, and had fallen into acting through some editing work that she did. Although it may seem like quite a leap from one to the other, she did manage to find a link between the two professions: “you have to have a thick skin,” she said. Lyndie, on the other hand, had been learning martial arts while studying biology at university. She found that she wasn’t really enjoying her degree as much as she had hoped, but a piece of good luck came along when she was offered work on a kung-fu film. Nicole, who has always had an interest in acting, put it down partly to the fact that she moved around a lot during childhood, allowing her to get to know lots of new people and to observe the differences between them.

Lastly, the panel were asked to pick their favourite villains from the show. With so many to choose from in the demon-infested Sleepy Hollow, it can’t have been easy to decide, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that three very different (and very good!) answers were given. Interested in how the show surprises its viewers with complex characters and unexpected plot twists, Lyndie chose Jeremy Crane because it’s a while before you actually realise he’s a bad guy. Cringing at the visceral image of his victims’ bursting eyes, on the other hand, Katia said that she had found The Sandman the most frightening. For Nicole, though, the best villain was Andy. Like Jeremy, he’s complex, struggling with demons both literally and metaphorically. There seems to be a big part of him that doesn’t really want to be the bad guy any more, and it’s this that makes him both more sympathetic and more frightening than many of the monsters – his personality can turn in an instant, and you never really know where you stand with him.

“I just want to be his character!” laughed Nicole.

 Season Two of Sleepy Hollow will air on Fox later this year.

Photographs by Caitlin Jenkins

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