WonderCon 2016: SLEEPY HOLLOW Cast and Crew Discuss Season 3
[Photos by Angie Fiedler Sutton]
We’re rounding up the third season of Sleepy Hollow, and while at WonderCon, we got the chance to sit down with some of the cast and the executive producer about the show and what it’s like to be on a show that has evolved so much.
Executive producer Raven Metzner discussed how the show evolved during season three. “The idea sort of came up early on, that Moloch and his whole crew were the first Tribulation,” Metzner said. “Based on the pilot, they talked about seven Tribulations coming, we were going to then introduce a second Tribulation. It needed to be different than the sort of the demonic Tribulation that Moloch represented. So, we sort of searched around and threw out a lot of ideas for what it could be, and we sort of centered on this idea that it would be a god. And then, that evolved into not just a god, but a way to make that more interesting and more grounded was to make it a god in a relationship, you know? And that’s sort of where the sort of the idea for the Pandora and the Hidden One sort of was born. We thought it would be cool to start not with the big bad, but to start with Pandora herself and then sort of slowly have her mission evolve into this relationship that we reveal.
“So it’s all in an effort to create a second Tribulation that would feel important, have big stakes, and also tell us more about what it means to be witness. I think that the Moloch side of it and the Biblical side of it was really interesting. I think this year, we’ve learned that there’s also another point of view of what that is. So, as we take down these Tribulations, we’re also learning more and more about these characters, their roles. More importantly, what it means to be a witness.”
Next, Metzner discussed the idea of a show bible and keeping track of inconsistencies. “I came on the second season. The show was sort of birthed from the minds of Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci, Phil Iscove, and Len Wiseman. And they created this whole world, this whole mythology. And they did have a binder. It had their point of view and decisions for the series. And any TV show necessarily starts from that point and then becomes its own thing and grows. I had questions watching the first season that I thought needed answered. And as a writer in the second season, I would set out to try to answer some of those questions. In the finale, you’ll see that there’s a question that’s been hanging over my head for all these episodes, and I finally was able to wrap that up.
“There’s some really strong, creative voices in the show. We have a very strong creative showrunner, and over the season, there’s been different people sort of leading the charge. So, it’s not by committee, but people do throw out big ideas, and then we sort of all talk about them and then we get on board with them, and then with our studio and our network, we pitch to them and they come back, and so it becomes it this great collaboration between the creatives on our side and the studio and network sort of make the direction happen. But when it comes to the details, there are certain things that we do talk about, because this is going to be our canon, we want to respect that. Other people – the kind of person that goes, ‘Oh, no one’s gonna care. Don’t worry about it.’ And I’m like, ‘No, the fans actually really do care, and they do watch all the episodes over and over again, and they do have questions, so we should be true to them and answer them.’ So, I feel like by the end of this season, we have answered a lot of questions. There’s more to answer, but it’s been a lot of fun to get your big idea about the history of what a witness is and to take from what Alex and Bob and Phil came up with originally, but then sort of bring it into a new thing.”
Integrating the American history in with the various mythology was also something Metzner discussed. “Everyone in our room brings not only solid writing and good producing, but brings different interests to the show. We have people on the show who are horror fans, we have people who are history fans. One of our writers, Joe Webb, has got a master’s degree in American history, and he comes with a lot of great details and he makes our ideas richer. So, everyone brings their interests into the room, and then we try to sort of go from there. We like to dig deep and use real myths, and a lot of our monsters are taken from some actual cool idea for a monster from another culture, perhaps.”
Speaking of moving into season three, both Jessica Camacho (Sophie) and Nikki Reed (Betsy Ross) talked about coming into the third season and what it was like. “They all welcomed us,” Reed said. “I’m sort of in my own little pocket – I’m just with Tom. It didn’t feel like there was tension or any kind of transition. But Tom and I, before we started filming, spent a bit of time trying to work out the dynamic and figure out who Betsy and Crane were together with the little information we had from the writers. One of the things you come across in television is that you discover the character while the writers are giving you little bits at a time.”
“Yeah,” Camacho agreed. “That’s exactly one of the most interesting things about working in TV is that you discover more and more with each script. You have to prepare when you’re given a new character, so you do all this work. And then you read the script, and you’re like, ‘Oh, it went in a different direction.’ You bring in that and make that adjustment. But I like the reveal – I like the excitement of, little by little, following those cookie crumbs to what ends up being hopefully this fully-realized character. And that’s really exciting for me. Coming into this show, it’s already established – this team is already working together, they already know what they each bring to the table. This is my first show, and Sophie was completely new to this world. So we kind of shared that experience, and so it was fun for me as I was discovering where I fit in – me, as an actor on the set – she was also discovering where she fits into this world that was completely new to her. It was really parallel.”
Zach Appelman (Joe Corbin) had a similar comment about the evolving story arc. “We actually don’t really know what the arc is going to be at the beginning of the season. We kind of get it script by script just like the fans. So, when I get a script and it ends on, you know, Joe and Jenny are going to fight, I don’t know if in the next episode they’re going to be broken up, so it’s all very unexpected, which is kind of nice.”
Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills) agreed. “It’s challenging. But, you know, in life, you don’t know what’s around the corner, so….”
Later in the interview, she brought up the idea again. “I really did not know what was going on when I first got this role,” she stated. “But I’m kind of used to that now. In Nikita, for instance, nobody gave me any direction as Sonya. And so I kind of just made my own. So I’m kind of used to that, just making the decisions sort of on my own, and then as you learn more about your character, you add that to it. In a way, it’s kind of an interesting challenge. It can backfire sometimes, but often it can be really interesting and create things that are kind of compelling and unexpected.”
As for what story she told herself at the time, she was hesitant to share since it was no longer applicable to her character. Appelman jumped in, “But it’s your way in at the time.”
Greenwood agreed. “It’s your way in at the time when you’re starting from scratch. And yeah, it changed pretty quickly. Like when I was hired, I didn’t know much, but pretty quickly I got of couple of scripts and got to see, ‘Okay, she does have some stuff. She is where she is,’ and stuff like that. But literally when I got the audition, it was like, ‘Sarah Connor type’. That was kind of it. So, you had to build a lot around that.”
We discussed the character of Betsy Ross, and how she was a lot less ‘different’ from the women of today, and then asked Reed about the character’s backstory. “I would say that how forward she is and how excited she is by poking him is not what I would’ve expected Betsy to be,” she admitted. “That aspect of Betsy’s personality was probably created as a way to create entertainment and an interesting dynamic between her and Crane. And it does create something interesting. He is fun: Crane as a character is so uncomfortable in that world in her presence, so I think it gave us something to play with.”
The theory that his relationship with Betsy has influenced how he interacts with Abby was brought up, and Reed acknowledged that may have something to do with it. “Maybe the only two women in his life that behave like that. But I do think that Tom and I discussed from the beginning after the first episode, actually, that we enjoy being partners more than the chemistry. I think he and I discovered and we encouraged, actually, more of the being partners in crime. Because I think that also is a much more interesting take on a relationship. You have two people that, you know, by all means should want nothing more than to be together, but they don’t. Why? You know? I think that’s a more interesting dynamic.”
Sophie’s background with the paranormal – especially her parents – was brought up. Camacho talked about whether that would be explored in the rest of the season. “I think that she was so kind of … blown away by this discovery of everything that she’s studied and heard about being possible and real and close, and what that could mean for her life. And the questions that have been haunting her, not having the answers. But I think this season is more dedicated to Sophie, we see Sophie trying to get her footing. Trying to say, ‘Okay, but I really am capable, okay, you guys? I can do stuff! But how I do it here? What do I do? I feel helpless.’ You know? And so, her trying to figure out her place as part of that team. And I think definitely Sophie is getting closer to maybe …” here she paused, and gave a chuckle, “I’m trying to be careful, and dance around. I think we’re going to see her get closer to the things that have always been haunting her and keeping her awake at night. I think now that we know that she’s part of the team and that we know she’s established: okay. So what does this mean for her as a person? And I think that’s coming.”
Jenny’s father was brought up, and Greenwood admitted, “I can definitely say that there’s more to that story, and we will explore it. And it’s really interesting. I’m really excited about it. He knows more about a lot of stuff, I think. He’s a complicated dude, so I’m excited that he’s been brought into the fold. And yeah, Jenny’s having a bit of a hard time with it, but as we saw in the last episode, he kind of touched her heart a little bit, I think, and so maybe she’ll be more open to it, but she’s kind of a tough nut to crack sometimes.”
As for Joe’s contribution to the crew, Greenwood was quick to offer up the suggestion of “his guns”, motioning to Appelman’s arms. When I joked that our recapper of the show did want me to ask if we’d see more shirtless scenes, he said, “You’ll have to wait and see on that,” with a laugh. Turning a bit more serious, he responded, “I think, obviously, he brings a military combat background, but I think the more important thing he’s brought this season is what he’s brought with Jenny and that storyline. I think if there’s one thing Joe inherited from his dad is sort of patience and understanding, which I think Sheriff Corbin had, which is why he was able to connect with these girls. I was always sort of surprised: Joe could be a hot-headed young Marine, which he was when we first met him, but in this season, we see him being very mature and really patient with like figuring out how to navigate the relationship with Jenny and the boundaries and all that. And I realized like midway through, I was like, ‘Oh, I bet he got that from dad.'”
“And he inherited a love of the Mills sisters,” Greenwood added.
“And a love of the Mills sisters. A different kind of love,” Appelman said with a laugh.
When asked for a favorite memory of the season, Appelman said, “I thought a really fun day was in episode 307 when the berserkers like came to attack us outside the trailer. What I actually loved about that it was the first time I think that it was the four of us together. It was the first time it was me, Tom, Nicole, and Lyndie doing an action sequence. I actually think it was the first time that whole season. And that was really fun, because it felt like team witness was assembled for the first time.”
Greenwood was quick to agree. “I loved that episode, too, with the kickboxing scene, because we got to practice that. You remember? They cut a lot of the choreography out because really it sort of run too long, but just actually training with you for a couple of days, it was super fun.”
Appelman continued the story. “What was cool was that John Copeman, who’s our stunt coordinator, he said that when they got the initial draft of that script, it was actually they were boxing – like, sparring with boxing. And John knew that both Lyndie and I have martial arts backgrounds, so in the production meeting, he said to Joe Webb, who wrote that script, ‘Hey, could we make it a mixed martial arts sparring instead of just traditional boxing?’ So he worked that in, which was totally awesome. I actually thought like that kickboxing scene was one of the best stepping stones for building that relationship, you know? There’s nothing like sexy sweating sparring to build the sexual tension.”
As for whether we’ll see more of Sheriff Corbin’s work on the supernatural, Appelman stated, “I think if we get a season 4, I’m sure that’ll be more explored. I think the next two episodes are very much focused on dealing with Pandora and the Hidden Ones, and the Corbin sort of files aren’t as much a part of that for the next two, but I think that’s definitely if there’s a season 4 would be something to be explored.”
And speaking of whether there will be a season four, Metzner said, “We’re hoping for another season. We have our fingers and toes crossed.” As for the remaining part of season three, he stated, “I think that one of the things we always try to do in each show is, for a finale, we like to do something unexpected and crazy and tipping the apple cart, and I think this season is no different. We’ll try to wrap things up and answer some questions, but also we want to make sure that we leave people wanting more. So that’s a unique challenge in this show, I think every season we’ve had an ending where you’re like, ‘What?’ So I think this is no different.”
Sleepy Hollow airs on FOX on Fridays, 8 PM/7 central, with two more episodes, and in case you were unaware, we recap the show.
For more coverage on WonderCon 2016, check out our Instagram and this link for articles and interviews.
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2 thoughts on “WonderCon 2016: SLEEPY HOLLOW Cast and Crew Discuss Season 3”
Thanks for the write-up, Angie. I was at Wondercon, but didn’t get to any panels or see anyone hanging out anywhere. It’s nice to get some idea of what the producers had in mind with season 3, as it’s such a departure from the first two season. Interesting to see that they made Betsy Ross so anachronistic on purpose. Not sure it works, but at least it was intentional.
Glad you liked it! We’re still writing up our coverage, with an item on the Orphan Black panel, The 100 panel, DC Comics Rebirth, and more. Keep your eyes peeled for more.