MCM Birmingham Comic Con saw Sleepy Hollow star Tom Mison returning to the NEC once again. During Saturday’s panel he had to contend with questions about the show’s crossover with Bones, the possibility of writing and directing in the future, and Donald Trump. For those of you not quite up to speed on Sleepy Hollow, do note that there are a few spoilers here.
The show is currently in its third season, which begins with Ichabod Crane (Mison) looking to learn more about the country he helped to found, while Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is at a crossroads, contemplating her next career challenge. However, the appearance of the mysterious Pandora (Shannyn Sossamon) brings them both back in to action.
“We lost Orlando Jones, John Noble and Katia Winter,” said Mison on the cast members that left since the end of season two. “But then you gain other cast members. It does create a completely new feel.” He also noted how season three “doesn’t feel anything like the other two seasons.”
“We moved to Atlanta where it’s 95% humidity. To get rid of that wig… that was a bit of a blessing,” said Mison, who was grateful that he was no longer having to wear the wig for Ichabod. “We discussed at the beginning of this season that there was a hair change. My performance is entirely based on hair in this show,” he explained, adding how having his hair cut showed that there was a definite change in Ichabod. “He’s killed his wife and his son. I’d always imagined that he’d cut it all off and went to Scotland. From the moment you see him, you know that it’s a different person. Who knew that hair could be so interesting? It’s not really, is it.”
Asked on whether Ichabod will be seen moving into more modern clothing, Mison said, “I hope not,” as he recounted a conversation with co-creator and executive producer Len Wiseman during the pilot, about wanting to make sure Ichabod does not change his clothing. “Trying to think of a man, who is so far removed from his home, like 200 years; to have [his own clothes] is like a comfort blanket. I think it’s still important, no matter how he integrates himself into one world, he still needs the comfort of where he’s from and the importance of who he is.”
A question from an attendee asked about the possibility of Mison writing and directing episodes in the future, to which he replied that he had ideas for episodes to write that he put forward to the showrunners, only it was felt that he had “different ideas” on what the show is, compared to theirs. “If there is a fourth season then maybe some of those ideas will see the light. I know Nicole was quite keen on a couple of them.”
As for directing, he said that he would “love to direct an episode.” He praised the crew, producers and directors on the show, feeling that they would be very supportive in him directing an episode. “The trouble is, there’s just no time for the preparation,” he said. “We have eight or nine days to film each episode. The directors come in just over a week before so that they can prepare it. They look at locations, they work through the script and cast the actors who come in for each episode. There’s a lot of preparation work that I wouldn’t be able to do, because I’d be shooting the previous episode. So if I was to do one, it would have to be the first one in the season.”
A question from the audience asked what it was like filming the crossover with Bones in Los Angles, to which Mison replied, “I loved it. It was a nice moment to stir things up a little bit and get a change of scenery.” He described the show’s leads, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel as “both delightful” and that the cast and crew there made them feel very welcome. He also highlighted how the Bones laboratory set was lit and shot in a different way on their crossover episode, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’, so that it looked more suited to Sleepy Hollow. “We had our director of photography come and re-light it and the colour looks different. I thought that was really interesting. That’s a really good lesson in the power of a director of photography. They can take one room and make it suit a show which is completely different.”
Given the crossover with Bones, Mison was asked if there was any other show he would like Sleepy Hollow to crossover with. After a pause he replied, “Girls. I’d like to see what Ichabod is like with a group of selfish 20-year-olds in Brooklyn.”
Mison was then asked about Ichabod doing a lot more singing in season three and if this was because he was happier that his wife was dead. “I think since the writers stopped giving me other languages to do, they thought they’d test me with song,” he said. “I don’t think he’s happy that his wife’s dead.”
A question from the audience asked him what his favourite standout moment had been throughout the whole series. He picked the montage sequence from the first season episode ‘Midnight Ride’, where Ichabod and Abbie try numerous methods to destroy the Headless Horseman’s head. “I really enjoyed that,” said Mison. “I think that’s a really good summary of the show as a whole, of Ichabod and Abbie doing this impossible, stupid task.” He also enjoyed the whole pilot episode, but singled out the first meeting between Ichabod and the Headless Horseman in the cemetery.
He then shared a bit of information about the actor who portrayed the Headless Horseman on the show. “The guy who played the Headless Horseman in the pilot and for a large part of the first season is a guy called Richard Cetrone, who left us in the second season because he’d been offered the stunt double for Batman in Batman v Superman.”
Mison was then asked if there was ever an instance where someone wondered onto the set. “There was one this year, when there was the zombie General Howe,” said Mison, explaining how they had an army of zombie Redcoats that were marching through a small town outside of Atlanta. “It was a Friday night, there were some people that just stumbled out of a pub at half-past midnight and saw this army of zombie Redcoats with guns. They looked shocked and legged it the other way.”
Mison then revealed that in the episode ‘The Sisters Mills’, during the scene where he’s at the dentist, half of it was improvised. “We had an amazing director, Guillermo Navarro, who we’re very lucky to have,” said Mison. “He just told me to try and make Nicole laugh.” Improvising seemed to be a rare occurrence on the show as Mison said that they often stick to the script.
An attendee asked Mison if there were any of Ichabod’s mannerisms which he had adapted into his personal life. Mison laughed, saying, “That’s a very kinky question. Occasionally… aspects of Tom slip into Ichabod, but luckily it doesn’t happen the other way.”
A question from an attendee then asked Mison if there were any other projects in the works. “Until I know whether there’s a season four, I’m not allowed to accept other work,” said Mison. “So I’ve had to turn down some rather nice things.”
“You were shortlisted for Doctor Strange,” said the attendee.
“Shortlisted for Doctor Strange? Was I?” shouted Mison. “Oh, that’s exciting! That would have been rather good. I didn’t know that.” Mison then asked the attendee if he worked for Marvel and offered to buy him a drink. However, not knowing if the show would receive a fourth season, Mison summed up his situation, saying, “Until I know what’s happening with my life, I can’t… make decisions… regarding my life.”
Following this he was asked if there was a comic book character he would like to portray. “Has anyone read The Black Knight,” asked Mison. He was greeted with silence. “The Black Knight was a terrific Marvel character,” he said, adding that he also wouldn’t mind being one of the Inhumans. “But then with the Inhumans, you get to play these characters with lots of prosthetics and then you think, ‘Oh, wow, that’s amazing’, then you’re in at 3am in the morning, in make-up, having it put on for six hours. Basically I’d like to play a superhero who gets a full eight hours sleep.”
Mison was then asked what he would like to see happen in season four if it did get the greenlight. Providing a bit of insight into what kind of episodes he would write, he said, “I’d like to see the return of zombie General Howe, because I really liked that. I’d like to see him and the Headless Horseman both come back and try and resurrect the entire British army to stage war against new America.”
Mison later said, “If I wrote episodes, it would just all be about Iain Duncan Smith resigning; no one wants that.”
When asked what has been the most fun thing from shooting season three, he replied that he was pleased that he had more scenes with Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Jenny Mills. “That was always a really interesting relationship,” said Mison. “It’s just entirely fun. It’s largely taking the piss out of each other. It’s nice to have another character who you can actually talk to and poke fun at rather than just shout exposition.”
Given the show’s take on Betsy Ross (played by Nikki Reed), Mison was asked if he is ever surprised when the writers go off on a tangent and deliver a completely different version of something. “I thought that was a very interesting choice to cast her in that way,” said Mison, who added that he found it a nice surprise and described Reed as “so enthusiastic” when it came to making Betsy a thoroughly rounded character.
A question from the audience asked Mison if he would rather play a hero or villain. “Well everyone likes twisting a moustache and being a baddie,” said Mison. “When it becomes interesting is when you look at what are the darker parts of a hero’s character.” He felt that this was something Sleepy Hollow explored with Ichabod. “To be very, very pretentious, they’re kind of the same thing. So I guess whichever one gives me ten hours sleep.”
The final question from the audience asked about supervillains and the possibility of incorporating Donald Trump into an episode of Sleepy Hollow. Mison seemed a little lost for words. “Well he’s going to be busy when he’s finally president,” said Mison, who then realised the potential future we could be looking forward to. “President Donald Trump!? It’s amazing. It’s like Alan Sugar being Prime Minister… but Alan Sugar when he’s hungover and in a really bad mood. And racist!”
When asked how Ichabod would react to Donald Trump, Mison said, “He would get on his horse, go straight out there and deal with things.”