WILMINGTON, NC. I sit down with “Sleepy Hollow” star Nicole Beharie at the end of a long day on the FOX series’ North Carolina set and a cumulative sympathy has set in.
I’d talked to Tom Mison about his heavy coat.
I’d chatted with Katia Winter as she scratched at welts acquired on a night shooting in the woods.
I’d spoken to EP Ken Olin in the air-conditioned production offices as he explained the difficulties facing the stars in the muggy Southern environment.
And I experienced the tiniest taste of the “Sleepy Hollow” experience as an extra in an airless bar that started off comfortable and became rather less-so as the takes began to add up.
Normally, network TV shows are in production from the late summer through the early spring, but part of the reward for its early Season 2 pickup meant that “Sleepy Hollow” got to resume production in the late spring and plow through the entirety of the North Carolina summer.
Perhaps that’s why as late afternoon rolled around and Nicole Beharie sat down, my inquisitive instincts didn’t go to the plight Abbie Mills found herself in at the end of Season 1. Yes, finding yourself in Purgatory after an act of self-sacrifice involving your time-traveling partner and his witchy wife is uncomfortable, but is it any worse than finding yourself in August in North Carolina in a leather jacket because you’re pretending it’s actually autumn in New York?
As with my interview with Tom Mison, a lot of my conversation with Beharie is predicated on the rather safe assumption that at some point — they were on Episode 8 when I was there — Abbie is extricated or extricates herself from where we left her in the finale. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. Beharie didn’t say.
She does, however, discuss how Ichabod’s lie involving the map to Purgatory creates some trust issues and hints at the fresh dynamics brought up by new characters Sheriff Leena Reyes (Sakina Jaffrey) and Nick Hawley (Matt Barr).
Beharie also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both the heat and the early ramp-up to Season 2 production and how comfortable she is or isn’t feeling in her second season as a TV regular.
Season 2 of “Sleepy Hollow” finally begins this Monday, September 22 at 9 p.m. on FOX.
Full interview below…
HitFix: It was *really* warm today, and it seems like you guys are doing this every day. How comfortable have you been with sort of the extra work you guys have done in the summer this year?
Nicole Beharie: [Laughs.] I love you. That is such a practical and aware and thoughtful question. Thank, you because no one’s ever going to notice that, because they’re watching it in the comfort of their living rooms — In the fall, at that! — so they’re never going to know how hot it is and how humid. It’s miserable. It’s actually miserable, but I think it serves us because we get to be, like we’re much more tired and we really have to push through in order to like tell the story. Tom, God bless him, is in a coat and I’m always like in leather jackets, jeans, hoodies that whole thing, so we’re both in there sweating our asses off basically.
HitFix: Yeah. We got to be in a scene downstairs.
Nicole Beharie: I know! I heard about that. Did you have a good time?
HitFix: It was fun, but it was so hot by the end.
Nicole Beharie: Yeah. Because you can have the AC on for sound.
HitFix: And then Katia was sitting across from me for her interview and apparently she was out in the woods yesterday and she was just scratching the entire time just bug bites, bug bites, bug bites, have you had of that fun?
Nicole Beharie: I had a week where I was covered in what we call chiggers. They have chiggers here and I’m actually still scarred from it. But the other good thing about being here, on the flipside with the heat, is there’s a beach so I go tanning so you don’t really see the bug bites because of the tan. So there you go.
HitFix: So good sides bad sides, it all comes together.
Nicole Beharie: Yeah! It’s all good.
HitFix: Beyond the heat and bugs, what has it been like sort of the accelerated summer process? Do you not know any different so it seems normal enough to you? The amount of work that you guys have done early this year? Or does it feel sort of…?
Nicole Beharie: It feels like the right thing to do. I mean I don’t really have any qualms about it. It’s better to get ahead. Last year we were kind of falling behind. We were like shooting things and then it would be on the air while we’re still working on it almost. So I think that this is the right way to do it and unfortunately it is very warm but I think because of that we can provide better storytelling and better quality, better VFX, everything. We just have more time to like go over things so that the audience is pleased. And we’ve also been able to also go back, after episodes had been cut, and tweak.
HitFix: That’s a luxury.
Nicole Beharie: That’s wonderful! And I think everyone’s going to feel it. I think people will be much happier.
HitFix: But is that the sort of thing where you sort of retain in your mind things that you sort of file away that you want to go back to do or is it just the directors when they look at…?
Nicole Beharie: No, we don’t get any say on like, “Oh, by the way… That one scene in 20-whatever we have to go back and…” No. But when there are things that may have been off there are discussions that are had and we’ll sort of go back and address them. And I have found I think that the VFX, especially like the effects, are so much better because there’s more time and the lighting and just a lot of really aesthetic things. It was already an aesthetically pleasing the show but now I think it’s even better.
HitFix: From where we left things with Abbie, it seems to suggest, at least in theory, the first episode is going to be an introspective episode because it seems like the first episode back theoretically ought to be Abbie sort of going into herself to some degree. Did it feel that way to you as well? Did it feel like it’s sort of inward?
Nicole Beharie: Yeah, but I don’t think that’s what it is. No. I think you’ll be surprised though.
HitFix: Can you tease at all about what it is?
Nicole Beharie: Well, the first episode is… I mean, I love that you said that because that’s what you would think Purgatory would be, but everything you think Purgatory would be is a not. So there you go. That’s all I can say. Cagey.
HitFix: Does that mean that you still sort of have an appetite for sort of the more introspective Abbie episodes? Because I feel that there are a lot of things from her backstory that we don’t have.
Nicole Beharie: I do actually. It was just released last week that Aunjanue Ellis is going to be playing Abbie’s mother in the show and I personally still don’t know where that’s going. I haven’t read those scripts yet. I don’t know. I’m sort of waiting to hear because it we have heard a lot about what’s happening in Crane’s story. Why he’s a witness is very clear. Why Abbie is a witness is not clear, I think, to everybody. She’s cold, is she going to fight or whatever? But what’s going on in the history that sort of makes sense? And hopefully we address that a little bit more this year.
HitFix: Well, how much do you feel like you know that we haven’t seen? What have the writers let you in on?
Nicole Beharie: Well, I’m not going to tell you that. [Laughs.]
HitFix: Sure. But you can tell me a quantity? How about that?
Nicole Beharie: There’s quite a bit. The first thing I can mention is that there’s more going on. Her mother was mentally ill and left them and we will discover that there’s more going on there in this supernatural realm.
HitFix: And we also got to see sort of Little Abbie last season. Did you get to work at all, just meet at all with Little You?
Nicole Beharie: Awwww. I did get to work with those ladies; the Little Abbie and Little Jenny and they are really a treat. They’re really sweet. Those actresses are just like, they’re so excited to be there. I don’t know if we’re going to get back into that again but we’re definitely going back into her history and the family life, not necessarily like the flashback dollhouse thing.
HitFix: I just \wasn’t sure how much Little Abbie we were going to get going…