We Talked to the Cast and Crew of Sleepy Hollow About Season Two, Female Representation, and Orphan Black
"Well, Ben Franklin's pissed."
Don’t lose your heads or anything (pause for me uproariously laughing at my own joke), but I got the chance to talk with Sleepy Hollow actors Orlando Jones (Captain Frank Irving), Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills), and Sakina Jaffrey (Sheriff
Takes No Shit Leena Reyes), plus showrunner Mark Goffman and executive producers Len Wiseman and Raven Metzner, at New York Comic Con, and it was as wonderful as the infamous Captain Irving axe dodge. Among the topics of conversation: Sheriff Reyes’ backstory, the show’s treatment of female characters, and how Jones isn’t the only one ass over elbow in love with Orphan Black.
Here. Let me fill you in.
On Female Characters and the Bechdel Test
Raven Metzner: It’s a great thing to write, to be given that [assortment of female characters]. Each of these characters is so dynamic. Writing on a show where there are really strong, powerful women is a great thing. I have five sisters.
Lyndie Greenwood: Do you really?!
Metzner: Yeah, I do! I’ve been surrounded by strong women my whole life. It’s a real gift to have these phenomenal actors to play these roles. It’s a great thing… It’s a real pleasure to be able to do that. To be able to write a scene with two strong women talking about—not about men, but talking about their own lives and/or their own mission or whatever they’re doing. [It’s] a rare thing, and an awesome thing.
Mark Goffman: I want to do things that reflect the world that I see… and [Sleepy Hollow] has a lot of very strong women that respect each other, and they still have honest differences of opinions and differences in world-views based on experiences they’ve had. And to me that’s more exciting dramatically than petty fights, and that’s what I like.
On the Relationship Between Abbie and Jenny
Greenwood: I think what’s so beautiful about Abbie and Jenny is that they’ve worked really, really hard to get where they are now, and they’re going to try to maintain this relationship. They’re really all they have, right? Like, Jenny—Abbie is her everything. But they’re thrown challenges all of the time, so trying to keep this healthy relationship healthy—one that’s growing to be healthy— through it all is really interesting.
Metzner: Also, they haven’t been together for so many years. In terms of screen time, they’re really almost relearning about each other. I think it’s a really great place to put sisters, because they have this automatic—they are the only family that they have. And so putting them in that place where they have to relearn about each other and find their relationship is a really great dynamic to write to.
On the Relationship Between Sheriff Reyes and the Mills Sisters
Sakina Jaffrey: My relationship with the girls is really grounded in that reality, [that] when [Reyes] was younger, the decision she made about their mother. I was a young cop when I made that decision. Who knows what I think of it down the line… [Reyes and Abbie] have respect for each other. And everybody, Jenny—even if she gets incarcerated—she’s sort of working at the top of her game. They’re all working at the top of their game, because there’s the apocalypse and there’s the chaos of Sleepy Hollow. And it’s nice to play that mutual respect. And it’s interesting—Nicole is such wonderful actress that I think you can see a lot when she’s not saying lines. Just a look. I think you get a sense of history, that she’s in a quandary about how to deal with Reyes. That she respects what she’s there to do.
Jenny/Frank. Is it happening?
Greenwood: Imagine I answered that! No, I can’t answer that. The chemistry is very interesting, actually. We didn’t know that that was gonna happen. When Orlando and I first worked together, the reaction from the fans was really surprising. But we’re really great friends, and I think you kind of read that on-screen, which is great.
On Characters’ Uncertain Allegiances And The Omnipotence of Irving
Metzner: We can’t tell you too much of what you’re going to see, but something we do strive for is presenting characters that you wonder where they’re going to end up. It all started even in the pilot. We joke about it in the writers’ room. There’s a moment where Irving kind of has this look on his face—
Metzner: —and the fans were like “Irving knows everything!” So every once in a while in the writers’ room we’ll all crack up, we’re like, “Let’s ask Irving, he knows everything!” The audience reads a lot into these characters, but I think we really have set the stage this season for some really interesting potential changes in these characters you’ve known and grown to love.
On Orphan Black
Metzner: We swarmed Tatiana [Maslany] at San Diego Comic-Con. We were actually in the green room at the same time as her, and a bunch of the writers were there and we kind of swarmed her. And we’re like “We love your show! We want to have a crossover!” There’s gotta be a clone somewhere in the world of Sleepy Hollow!
Orlando Jones: [Asked if he’s still gunning for a place on the show] Oh, for sure! [laughs] The wheels are in motion.
Are We Ever Going to Find Out Why Andy Is So Obsessed With Abbie?
Wiseman: Yes, we actually will! And there’s a whole story, actually, because I wrote it myself. When we got John [Cho] on board, he was wondering about the backstory of his character and why he’s so driven. And I sent him a three-page document on Abbie and Andy’s backstory. So it’s a whole story that’s going to come out.
On the Show’s Vocal Fan Following
Jones: Here’s what’s exciting about it. You work just as hard on the shows that people hate. So let’s remember that. You still put in the same hours, and people go, “This sucks!” So it’s always exciting when something takes off. It’s always fun from my perspective, because I’m a big fan of the show, to be able to interact with fans in that way. Do you expect it? No, because you never know what’s going to happen. But you prepare and you work as hard as you can and try to tell the best story you can, and in this case people responded to it.
On Captain Frank Irving, Non-Angry Police Captain
Jones: I like the focus on his family a lot. I think often in shows we lose sight of that, the simple things about the relationship with his daughter and his wife and trying to put that relationship back together and getting his post in Sleepy Hollow and desperately clawing and trying to put his life back together, put his family back together. And having all this fall out of his grasp. I think it’s a really difficult thing for him, and I think that’s really what keeps him up at night. I’m enjoying that journey, and I’m really enjoying that it keeps turning. It’s like temptation at every turn for him!.. It’s always exciting when you get the opportunity to do something that’s not been done before. This could have been “angry police captain” really easily, and it didn’t go in that direction.
Wiseman: [laughing] I was going for that!
Jones: [laughing] Why are you doing this?!
Wiseman: We’ve seen that on The A-Team!
Jones: And 48 Hours, and Beverly Hills Cop, and Lethal Weapon. You’re going to do it again!
On Trouble Brewing Between Abbie and Ichabod And “The Question of the Season”
Goffman: Just in general over the season, I think that both of them are smart, and they know that Henry is going to be something that can potentially cause a lot of grief between the two of them. That’s something we like playing on the show, how family is pitted against duty. They’re fighting one of the most important wars they could be fighting, and yet they’re also fighting against their own blood. Knowing that your family is thrown into the mix, there’s also going to be that, “I’ve got to keep you grounded, I’ve got to keep it real, I’m going to try to do what I can to let you know how I’m feeling.” But you know that there are going to be times when they disagree, and we’ll find that that does create a lot of tension between the two of them, as strong as their bond is. And they know that they have this bond as witnesses, they know they have this incredibly important job to do, but when you’re also talking about someone’s wife, when you’re talking about someone’s son, or someone’s sister, those bonds get tested. And that’s what we like to see. We’re going to test them in every way we can think of.
Jaffrey: I love that in this show there’s so much of this idea of, “Do you give up on somebody in your family?” And I think as humans we’re always sort of thinking—is that person worth it? Again and again, Ichabod and his relationship with Headless and Katrina and the idea that she keeps on wanting to believe in her son. I weep every time I read this, it’s so beautiful! Whether Abbie wants to give up on her mother, give up on her sister, and that sort of hero fighting through those issues is so compelling.
Goffman: And Sheriff Reyes also offers another outlet and another really interesting prism to view that question—which is the question of the season, about hope and redemption. And when do we give up hope, and can we ever give up on a family member? And Reyes is so tough, and she believes she’s doing the right thing when she’s enforcing law. But we’re people, and there’s always that moment where you have that hesitation. The fact that she put Abbie and Jenny’s mother in Tarrytown Psych, I think, shows that humanity.
On Reyes’ Backstory
Jaffrey: [Reyes’] father worked at Sing Sing. And things happened to him when he was there that had a profound impact on my life. So I come from a law enforcement family in Sleepy Hollow, and I think that event that happened at Sing Sing has definitely colored my need for order, rather sort of sharpens that need for order in this town. And I came back.
On the “Ichabod Discovers [BLANK]” Scenes
Goffman: There’s so much to make fun of in our world. There are so many things both in social commentary, the way that things have changed. Because it’s his perspective on life that’s different. We have a scene coming up in which Crane discovers Internet technology from 15 years ago, and he’s like “How?! How fricking slow the Internet used to be!” This was a big technological advancement at the time! He only has a one-year-old snapshot of what the modern world is. There are 200 years to catch up on. I think we’ll find a lot more to mine.
OK, But What About the Clothes?
Goffman: The interesting that happens this year is that Katrina’s in the modern world, so we don’t just have Ichabod, but the two of them together trying to figure out their fashion. I’d like to see the two of them go shopping together.
[Question: So that means she gets away from the Headless Horseman?] I didn’t say that! Maybe he takes her shopping!
Are You Getting Any Backlash from Academic Circles for Your, Er, Unusual Perspective on American History?
Jones: Well, Ben Franklin’s pissed.
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