Sleepy Hollow is one of our favourite new shows of the current TV season. With the next episode airing on the Universal Channel tonight at 9pm, the show's British star Tom Mison talks about playing man-out-of-time Ichabod Crane.(opens in new tab)
Is Ichabod ever going to wear modern clothes? His 18th century threads must be ponging a bit by now.
That will be mentioned very, very soon. You’ll see the question of clothes coming up. I think we quite liked giving him an iconic look, which I think everyone’s managed to achieve rather nicely.
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. 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. Yes. That will be addressed shortly.
What have you enjoyed most about creating the character?
I think it’s trying to work out how moody someone would be when they come out of the ground after 200 years. It’s been nice f inding the difference between Crane and his time and place, and Crane after all of this weird stuff has happened. It’s finding the balances, like the balances between that and the balance between Crane trying to hide his confusion at the world.
There’s so much – there’s so many plates that need to be spun to keep Ichabod on track, and it’s hard work. It’s a really difficult part to play, but I think that’s what makes it so satisfying. There’s lots for me to sink my teeth into.
Did you have any trepidation about signing up because of that rather outrageous concept for the show?
I always like to have faith that an audience will suspend their disbelief if you present it to them in the right way. 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 [creators] 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. No real trepidation, more faith in the great American public that they’ll join us, and luckily it seems to have paid off.
How do you balance the comedy of Ichabod's reactions to the contemporary world, and the drama that comes from the older world?
The temptation could be to just go nuts on the comedy; not only for me but for the writers as well because there’s a wealth of things we can do with that. We worked out very early on doing the pilot, that the only way you can really sell the comedy is to play it as straight as the serious stuff.
With finding the balance between the confusion and those funny scenes and the more serious, “Oh my God, the apocalypse is coming” scenes, the way to balance them is to play them with a very similar tone rather than separating them into a tragic scene or a comic scene. Everything is very real for Ichabod, and so we just have to try and play everything straight, which I think was a bit of a saving grace in terms of performance. It also stops me from hamming it up.
Ichabod is a married man, though he's in a very long-distance relationship right now. Is there any chance that i we might see some flirtation between him and Abbie?
I think there is certainly something magic between Ichabod and Abbie. They’re forced together whether they want to be or not.
They’re forced into this relationship where they’re very different, and they wind each other up no end, but that’s when the sparks start flying, and when sparks start flying that’s when there’s room for... They certainly have a connection, and if anything was to happen between them it would certainly be fiery.
Are you a history buff? If so, how much of a stickler are you for authenticity?
I’ve always been a history buff. It was one of the few subjects at school that really, really caught me. I think you’ll find a lot of actors will be interested in history because it sparks your imagination so much. When you enter a period of history your imagination just goes wild in creating the world, which is really what acting is. It’s always a treat to have something that lets me explore a different period, and I do try to be a stickler as much as I can, but luckily the writers are as well. There are a few language things where luckily they’re very open when I say I think this word is 12 years too late and they’re very happy to play around with it. Everyone is very patient with me getting very anal about things.
What do you find most interesting about your character that some people would not necessarily know?
Everyone always goes to the fact that he would be lost in the modern world and everything is above him and baffling, but what I find really fascinating is that any room he walks into he’s probably the most intelligent person in that room, but no one will allow him to show that because everyone thinks he’s insane. I think the interesting thing is that he thinks everyone else is the maniac, whereas everyone thinks he is. That’s really fun. He knows that he’s cleverer than everyone else, but his manners won’t allow him to tell people to stop being stupid.
The show's definitely coming back for a second season. Have you had any conversations with the writers about where the character's going?
It’s nice to know when there are important things – important revelations later on that should affect the entire character. It’s nice to know them early so then if there was suddenly a revelation that people would then think back to a few episodes before, and something different was being played. It’s important to know those big revelations. I’ve been told what they are, and shall remain silent.
Other than that, I know the big story arcs and they’re quite remarkable, but episode by episode I quite like finding out when I get the script. It’s quite nice to be surprised and excited in the same way that hopefully audiences are when they watch week by week. I like to keep a few things as a nice little treat each time I get a script landing on my doormat.
Sleepy Hollow airs on the Universal Channel on Wednesdays at 9pm.(opens in new tab)