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Interview with ‘Sleepy Hollow’ Star Nichole Beharie

To say I am obsessed with Sleepy Hollow is an understatement, so when I got the chance to chat with one of the stars ofSH Mamma4 the hit apocalyptic thriller, Nichole Beharie (Abbie Mills), I was more than happy to answer the call!  Well into it’s sophomore season, Beharie spoke about monsters to come, dark family revelations and love!

Monday November 17 marks an episode fans have been waiting for! The episode titled “Mama,” written by Phillip Iscove and Len Wiseman (per IMDB), is set to finally reveal the back-story of Abbie and Jenny’s (Lyndie Greenwood) mother Lori Mills (Aunjanue Ellis), her journey into darkness and ultimately suicide.

According to Beharie, the episode will also begin to unravel exactly how and why Abbie is a witness.  She’ll also finally talk more about her childhood with Ichabod (Tom Mison), which she has cleverly sort of side-stepped thus far.  “They basically have to go back into places that they don’t necessarily want to revisit, and discover, really unhash and talk to even Crane.” Opening this can of worms will be tough for Abbie, who hasn’t wanted talk about how she and Jenny were thrust into the foster system, thinking their mother was really crazy and how she took her life.  Earlier this season we learned that not only did the new Sheriff in town Leena Reyes (Sakina Jaffrey) know Lori Mills, but also had a hand in how she landed in Tarry Town Psychiatric.

Abbie further discovered her mother believed demons were after them. Just how long has Moloch been involved in this family’s destiny?  Looks we’ll find out Monday! Interestingly, Beharie said it was not only tough for Abbie to explore her childhood, but also as an actress, it was tough emotionally.

SH Mamma8Ultimately, the investigation will reveal more about their connection, as well as the roles they find themselves in as the coming apocalypse inches closer.  “They end up finding out that there’s a reason why they were basically dragged through the mud as children in order to get them to this point, where Abbie’s a witness and Jenny’s this amazing, kickass, know-it-all, know all things occult, PhD level specialist,” Beharie explains.

She adds there will be a huge pay-off,  a revelation made about their mother. “There’s a lot of darkness in the Mills’ family history and will be a tough one to watch.” Beharie further reveals, “You find out that there’s a legacy that this family has regarding being a witness.”

I find it interesting that given how much Abbie initially resisted what she and Jenny saw in the woods, that she’s very focused on the mission.  Beharie adds “[She] really is enjoying, even though it’s difficult being a witness and having a purpose and getting away from that, the power of being a witness is liberating for Abbie.”   This episode proves to be very emotional for our Mills sisters, so what was the toughest part for Beharie?  She was very excited to learn the two girls were going to have an episode dedicated to their story, but upon reading the script realized in the end, it’s going to cost them.  Thus far, Ichabod’s family has been front and center, with our hero dealing with the possibility of losing his family.  Beharie previews Monday’s episode will, “leave everybody in a really uncomfortable and uncertain place.” Additionally, while the team must pull together and fight this monster, “it’s so personal because it’s a part of their history that they have to discuss, and their families.  And then, of course there are lots of lives at stake, and they have to make the right decision in the nick of time.”

Fans have been concerned that Jenny has been put on the sidelines during the first part of this season.  Beharie ensures the Mills sisters are set to cause a little havoc and kick some ass!  “That’s one of the huge thiSH Mamma5ngs that happens in this episode.  You’ll see them butting heads, but not in the same way as last season.” As the rest of the season unfolds, “we’re definitely…going to see a lot more of the sisters really being close and working together.”

Of course fans have been clamoring for more of Orlando Jones’ character Frank Irving, whom we learned has signed away his soul to Henry (John Noble).  Ever since, our witnesses have kept him at bay locked up in Tarry Town Psychiatric, as they are not sure how exactly this puzzle piece factors into Henry’s plans.  Beharie reports we will see more of Irving throughout Monday’s episode and as the season progresses.

This season we’ve seen Abbie having to keep Ichabod on task as his focus has been split between his duties as a witness, his wife Katrina (Katia Winter), and son Henry.  It’s been tough for Abbie to warm up to the idea of working as a trio, since Ichabbie sort of its own rhythm and way the two characters operate as a duo.

For me, it’s definitely been a hindrance as Katrina seems to constantly be in jeopardy, though she has been helpful with her knowledge of magic. Not only has this been an issue for Ichabbie, but Katrina’s unwillingness to give up on their son Henry has brought the two witnesses to a crossroads, with Ichabod torn between Katrina and Abbie on the subject.  Abbie finally confronts Katrina in this week’s episode “Heartless,” and although it appears Ichabod is between a rock and a hard, he tries to placate both to work together.  So would Abbie take out Henry without Ichabod?  Beharie immediately answers Crane-s-Dilema-Banner_128“Absolutely!”  Though as to how exactly Abbie would accomplish this, she’d leave up to the writers.  She went on to say that for the remainder of the season, Ichabbie will be much more proactive.  “So they’re sort of trying to get ahead of Henry and Moloch, so I could see them planning and doing all the little espionage [stuff] by having Katrina in the house, doing all the little things that you would do to win a war.”  Sounds like our witnesses will return to war mode, which excites Beharie.

Sleepy Hollow is known for its apocalyptic, as well as mythological/folklore themed monsters and this season there’s been a plethora- the Piped Piper, Wendigo, Succubus, Weeping Lady, all hit Sleepy’s supernatural town for one reason or another.  Last season one of the aspects I loved about the show was its biblical monsters, brought forth to destroy our witnesses.

One of the issues I’m having as a viewer is the fact we are now seeing the Headless Horseman (aka) Abraham Van Brundt (Neil Jackson) more human because Katrina’s enchanted necklace allows her to see him.  The scary Headless we loved in season one has been absent for the most part. Will we get back to some of the biblical  creatures and “End of Days” storyline?  Beharie previews yes!  “We definitely go back to biblical storytelling, especially when it comes back to the Headless Horseman and the Apocalypse.”  However, she loves the different monsters. S2-Monsters-Banner_128“I’m personally really love all the different folklore, and we’re actually taking it- the episode that we’re shooting right now, which is based on Hinduism and Buddhism, we’re taking it international in a way.  Just exploring all the different dark entities that all sorts of states or localities to play with.  I personally think that’s really fascinating as I’ve been doing it.”

After this week’s episode titled “Heartless,” a few things came to light, and the fans are split about it: namely the ruggedly handsome, rogue bounty hunter Nick Hawley played by Matt Barr.  While fans are on the fence about the newest Sleepy Hollow resident, Beharie describes Abbie and Hawley’s situation as a “really strange but saucy relationship where she knows what he wants and he knows what she wants, and they just kind of barter and bargain so both get a semblance of what they’re looking for.”  She adds while Hawley seems to be in it for the money, the two witnesses are slowly turning his way of thinking around and he’s realizing there is a lot more at stake.  I’d hope so after his soul was practically sucked out of him by a Succubus!

I think the “bromance” between Ichabod and Hawley has softened a little bit, especially after Ichabod’s realization that the man has feelings for “Lieutenant.”  So will there be love on the horizon for our girl?  Surprisingly Beharie says it’s the farthest thing from Abbie’s mind!  “I think as far as the love thing is concerned, it’s funny because this year on the show there’s a lot of romantic undercurrent going on, whereas last year there really wasn’t any.”  Ultimately Beharie feels Abbie just needs to find the right guy.  For those who know me, you know who I think she should end up with! LOL  I found it interesting that Ichabod is willing to put up with Hawley, should Abbie decide to “explore a social SH Heartless4realationship” with him.  I think he was taken aback at Abbie’s statement that getting involved would only lead to complications.  I guess only time will tell if “Nicabbie” will go for it!  As far as the fan’s go, for the most part a majority feel that because Hawley has already had a relationship with Jenny, a romance with her sister will break that sacred sister code!

For anyone that watches the show or has seen them in person, Tom Mison and Nikki Beharie have chemistry, on- and off- screen.  I can only imagine how fun it must be for them on set, especially because everyone gets along and really cares about what they are creating.  So are there moments they ad-lib or adjust the script?  Beharie says no, that Tom is able to bring the words to life.

She adds, “I think the writers are really talented.  They come up with it and Tom has dexterity with language that it feels very natural, it feels like it’s being ad-libbed, but those are the lines on the page.” However, just because they don’t stray from the script doesn’t mean they don’t have fun!

She describes that sometimes they’ll just start cracking up after a goofy moment or from something that happened off set.  “We have these little warm-ups that we’ll do together or actually, in the upcoming episode, there’s a thing we’ve been doing off set as friends that we’re actually [going to do] on camera.”  I can only imagine the cuteness that will emerge!  Beharie mentions the Karaoke episode where we’ll see some little ad-libbed moments, but for the most part they tend to stay within the confines of the script.  Speaking of Karaoke, apparently it will be a situation that the gang takes a little down time.  I’m really looking forward to this!

In season one, we got to see Abbie’s pad which was a nice change from the witness’s usual hangouts at the Archives or Ichabod’s cabin.  Fans really enjoyed seeing it and Abbie doing something as mundane as chopping vegetables.  Will we see her apartment again or see the Mills sisters just hanging out watching a movie?  Beharie explains that because of all that goes on, there is very little down time.  The show sort of operates between the archives room, police SH Mamma6department and the cabin.  The reason the gang finds themselves at Ichabod’s cabin, is because it’s more like a command post for everyone. Though she says it would be nice to see her digs again, as well as some chill time for the sisters, she’s not so sure we’ll get anything like that this season.

The first episode of the season we saw Abbie still trapped in Purgatory and one of my favorite scenes was when she contacted Ichabod who promised to return for her.  It was heartbreaking that at her weakest moment, the “Ichabod” that showed up later was actually a demon pretending to be him.  Their bond has been so close that it was tough to see Abbie go through those emotions. While Ichabbie has had a brief conversation about her time spent there, it hasn’t really been explored further.

Will they revisit Abbie’s horrendous tour in Purgatory?  Beharie says no.  “I think the characters are so resilient.  They just had to sort of get it together.” She went on to say that Abbie and Ichabod just kind of had to keep on going, which is “symptomatic and true of people who are in a battle situation.”  Neither of them had the time to deal with it or even catch their breath.  Beharie adds, “I don’t necessarily think we’re going to be exploring what happened in Purgatory, but there’s a hell of a lot of fighting coming up that I think is as dynamic and you’ll get to see the witnesses come together and sort of discuss a little bit about their battle wounds, but not from purgatory, no.”

I’d say my favorite moment of “Heartless” is when Abbie finally confronts Katrina regarding Ichabbie’s duty to bring down Henry, though she remains faithful he can be redeemed.  In a smack down, who does Beharie think would win? She doesn’t think there should be one!  “Why can’t Katrina just be like an awesome witch and do amazing things, and SH Heartless1Abbie do really well at what she does and they unite?  That’s what I want to see.  I don’t necessarily want them fighting one another.”  While she’s definitely on the side of the trio working together, Beharie does feel that at some point they’ll definitely have to work out the kinks in their relationship.  I guess it all remains to be seen!  Can Katrina be trusted or will Henry and baby Moloch force her to turn on the witnesses?  We’ll have to stay tuned!

Obviously there are “shippers” out there for “Team Ichabbie” or “Team Ichatrina.”  This is one of the first television shows to have two beautiful people, one is married but fans are torn as to who should be together.  How does Beharie feel about all the hoopla?  “I’m actually intrigued by the idea.  Not necessarily of them being a pair or shipped together, but just the sheer interest and passion of the audience, of the fans.  I’m completely taken aback every single week with the stuff that’s sent in, whether it’s artwork or commentary or things that I don’t notice–how did they see all those details?” It’s hard for her to believe how much detail fans remember, something that as actors they wouldn’t consider a big deal, suddenly is noticed and viewers want more!

Many of us noticed that Beharie has been offline for several weeks, so imagine her astonishment upon checking in on Sunday night and seeing the amount of support she received from fans.  As most Sleepyheads know, after the airing of “Deliverance”, fans were in an uproar over Abbie’s role within that episode, concerned she was being depicted as a stereotype due to her African-American heritage. This sparked a huge twitter campaign, using hashtag #AbbieMillsDeservesBetter.  Not only were fans getting behind Beharie, but Lyndie as well as Katia, using hashtags #JennyMillsDeservesBetter and #KatrinaDeservesBetter.  The campaigns were a success as the producers, as well as writers and cast, took to twitter on Monday to answer fan’s concerns.

Beharie learned of what happened and had this to say, “Well, I’m highly aware of that just because I’m an actress and I’m African-Ameimage002rican, so I’m aware of that kind of thing, those stereotypes.”  How did she learn of the incredible outpouring from fans?  A few of her friends told her about it, so she checked it out. “I think it’s that we have amazing fans; they’re so passionate, and I think they want to see the females characters on the show be developed totally in the way that some shows haven’t done, in the way that everyone has expected from a show like this,” Beharie adds.  She went on to say she really appreciates the passion, all the questions from both sides.  “One part of me is like “why does it have to be political or weird about who’s doing what?” But I just think it’s people caring about each character so much, and that’s definitely a testament to the other actors work and the writers and the whole upheaval, it’s really entertaining from this end.  It’s almost like you guys are entertaining us after we attempt to give you your jollies.”

“Does she ever sit down with the writers to discuss the way her character is written to ensure there is nothing stereotypical?  Beharie says that hasn’t happened.  “But I think we’re pretty aware of it, and when little things pop up, we just kind of give a little side eye and say, “I don’t really know about that. That might not work out so well”, and everyone is cool and really understands it.

She adds, “I’m just completely, honestly, touched, of late, that people care enough, have so much to say about the show, you know?”  Beharie is also floored at how fans are sort of fighting on different sides.  “There’s a side that feels like Katrina’s not being developed in a way she could be and all that kind of stuff, and everyone has valid comments and it’s all respect and love, and we just love the fact that everyone is watching and they care so much to say all these things.”

In closing, Beharie had these parting words, “Please tune in on Monday and give us a little blast and just stay tuned! We have a lot of great stuff coming up.”  You took the words right out of my mouth Nikki!  Don’t miss a second of Sleepy Hollow, Mondays at 9:00 p.m. on FOX!

*Watching online? Be sure to use the following platforms to ensure your viewership counts: FOX, FOX On Demand, FOX app or on HuluPlus  Although Neilsen Ratings are not factoring into their totals, the network is collecting analytics from these platforms, which does give them an idea how their show is viewed.  They do factor in to the VOD (Video On Demand) totals.  Viewing on DVR? Allow the commercials to run or your viewership will not be included!

*Missed the “Sleepy Cast” podcast with special guest Nichole Beharie?  Listen on Nerdiest Website

*Join us on Monday night at 10p(PST) for our post-mortem of “Mama” on Spreecast and listen to Sleepy Hollow Addicts podcast, Thursdays at 10p(ET) for all the latest in the World of Sleepy!

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About Chrissy Piccolo

Chrissy Piccolo the founder of RHeart Network, the Fan’s Voice, the #1 Fan Connection Destination, supporting daytime, prime-time and online scripted digital content. Currently the host of RHeart Radio, the Fan’s Voice, as well as Storytellers On The Net, and Sleepy Hollow Addicts on Blogtalk radio. In addition to writing for Blogcritics, she is also an author on Examiner.com. Web Series Today and currently co-hosts with Barbara Barnett and Jerome Wetzel on ‘Let’s Talk TV’ on Blogtalk. She is also working on adapting her her first novel in The Kirsten Kelly Chronicles series into a webseries. Passionate about keeping scripted content alive, she continues to be an advocate for all forms. When she’s not working managing several websites or writing, one of her hobbies is investigating the paranormal with other enthusiasts and searching out possible cases through historic sites in the Northwest. Chrissy believes in being a positive influence in such a vast medium as the Internet.

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