Yesterday I gave you the transcription for the interview with the cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as I promised, today we have the man fronting Sleepy Hollow, Tom Mison.
Before I begin, I will say that Tom is the nicest guy in the world and very funny. He joked around as much as possible during the interview and went quite dark with his humour a few times, particularly when we mentioned that Crane might head to Washington in the next season, as he would love the show to acknowledge Trump’s rise to political power and the dark force that has to be behind it.
Below, much like yesterday you’ll find a transcription of the interview. Instead of going into what he said in detail, I’ll give you the broad strokes of the answers, the meaning if not the actual words.
Q: With the success of the show, much of it based on the chemistry between the two main characters, what have you learned of the racial dynamics in Hollywood and media?
One of the things Tom loves about the show is that aside from Crane and Katrina, because of their historical context, none of the cast got their roles based on ethnicity. They got their job because they were the best actors for it. And that he feels sets them apart from other series where you have the obligatory ethnic characters, which he finds to be a terrible way of doing things.
He mentions he did notice immediately the impact Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) had, because in the United States, a woman of colour in a leading role is not just a woman of colour in a leading role, but also it’s someone who wouldn’t have been there decades before, as they wouldn’t have been allowed to. As he tells it, her character had such an impact on a societal level that when she died, there was an article on it on The Washington Post, because in the US, Abbie Mills represented so much more than just another character in the show.
Q: Speaking of Abbie’s death, in many ways her character was kind of a safety net for Ichabod, translating the modern world for him and dealing with most things. How do you think he’ll deal with not having that anymore? (Yep, people, this was MY question!!!!)
He says it’ll be the thing to find out. Surprisingly, for me, he says that he always saw Abbie as the protagonist of the story, the guide into the world and mythology of Sleepy Hollow, and that he always felt that Crane was the sidekick, this strange man from another time, but Abbie is the one people can relate to. He says he loved playing that, because it gave him lots of opportunities to explore the character, though he admits he wasn’t interested in knowing of Ichabod’s background, even family, because he thought the less you know of him the more he can get away with his quirks.
Thing changed in Season 2, with the characters having more time on their own, but he says it’ll be interesting to see what Ichabod can do without the crutch of having Abbie deal with things, though he feels Abbie grounded Ichabod. For him the curious thing is whether the writers will believe Ichabod’s been in our modern world enough to start to deal with things on his own, or will he need someone new there to ground him as Abbie did.
He says he doesn’t know what the plan is but doesn’t envy the writers for having to come up with that one!
Q: How did you come to sing “A Young Sailor Cut Down in His Prime” on Sleepy Hollow?
Tom says some time ago he worked with a theatre company, called Simple8, and they were putting together a performance of Moby Dick and he became obsessed with sea shanties, and so found this one about getting syphilis from a prostitute that he thought would be amazing for Ichabod to sing at karaoke. He says he can imagine Ichabod on the journey to America among hardened sailors singing about syphilitic prostitutes while he was very prim and proper.
Q: Do you remember the exact moment you decided to act?
He says as a young man, in his teens, he was encouraged to do amateur dramatics and that at one point a professional actor came to see him and told him he could get paid for that. And as a big fan of Gene Wilder and Alec Guinness, he said “I want to be them,” and that’s how it started.
Q: Do you have any dream projects that you’d love to do with [Nicole Beharie] in the future?
He says he’d love to do a play with her, but he admits he’d love to do a play with a lot of people, including John Noble, with whom he’d been discussing the idea the day before.
With regards to Nicole, he says they found a real rapport and a good and steady working relation and he would love to explore something else with her.
On a follow-up question, the fans wanted to know if Nicole’s departure from the show had caused issues in their friendship, to which Tom replied, quite baffled, “No.”
Q: Is it difficult to film the new season without Nicole?
They haven’t started filming the new season, Tom said. They start in July, with the writers starting their work in June, but he admits that it will be very different, even if during Season 2 they had episodes apart.
Q: When did you know that Abbie was going to get killed off? (My other question!)
Tom explains he only found out a few episodes in advance and that in fact the decision had been made around the same time. He says it was something they’d spoken about for some time, but they only pulled the trigger on it at the end.
Q: Has it been disruptive for you in the way you approach the character to switch from the more serialised story in the first season to the more procedural, “Monster of the Week,” approach of the second one?
Tom says it’s not really disruptive but that some avenues offer more chances to explore aspects of the characters and world than others.
When asked on his preferences he commented he’s a fan of the serialised approach more than the procedural but that he’s also a big fan of his bosses, that they’re cleverer and know more than he does.
Q: How do you come into the character? Do you become him just by putting on the costume or is there another process? (I’m paraphrasing, I didn’t fully hear the question)
Tom says when he read the pilot it struck him how well they’d written the character. He says some scripts, you have to ask yourself things about the characters and slowly make your way into them, but that other times the characters leap at you from the page and that this happened for him with Ichabod on the pilot, and he heard his voice and realised who he was. He admits it sounds “actor…you know…wanky,” but that he instantly knew all he needed to know.
But he does say the costume helps, it changes something when you’re in full costume. He then told us the story of Sir Ian McKellen on The Lord of the Rings, how the venerable actor had read the part and the books but still didn’t know how to work the character, how to portray him properly and do it justice. But then, during the initial makeup sessions, when they put the prosthetic nose on him, how he felt it all fit into place and he knew who Gandalf was.
Tom says it varies, sometimes you work from the inside out and sometimes it’s the opposite.
Q: What is it like playing a character adjusting to our world?
He says that’s always been the highlight for him. He says that having Abbie as the guide and Crane just skimming and trying things out was the most fun. He admits though, that now hat Ichabod’s been around for some time, there are fewer things that surprise him.
Tom says he regrets they had the time-leap between seasons because in that time period Ichabod first go into an Aeroplane and he would’ve loved to play that, having him freak out on the flight.
Q: For Season 4, is there a particular route you want the character to go down?
Tom says it’s been set up for Ichabod to join the mysterious anti-supernatural organisation set up by George Washington for him. What he’d love to see is that if it takes Ichabod to Washington, for them to acknowledge the current state of American politics, particularly this mad time with Trump running for and being viable candidate for presidency. He says it’s just weird and that there has to be some dark power behind Trump’s rise, and he’d love the show to explore it.
Another journalist then said “guest star Donald Trump!” And Tom leapt to it, and I added, “he’ll be the monster of the week!” To which Tom said, “he’ll be the monster of four years.”
Someone then mentioned it seemed like Back to the Future and Tom said Trump does look like Biff Tannen, without realising that Biff had been inspired by Trump, something another journalist present informed him of. He was shocked, then smiled and said, “that is wonderful, it’s life imitating art.”
He then jokingly said, “have I ruined it? Too dark?”
Q: What will you be wearing this new season? How long will Ichabod hold on to the clothes?
Tom said he hopes the clothes don’t change because they’re a security blanket for Ichabod, particularly now that everyone he’s ever known and loved is dead. It’s the last thing he has left.
Also he says that Executive Producer Len Wiseman always wanted for Ichabod to have an iconic look, so that you only need to see the silhouette and realise it was him.
Q: If you could give an advice to Ichabod, what would it be?
“Chill out!” He says Ichabod is very stressed and that it’s hard for him as an actor to frown that much. “And go on Holiday!” he added and that Ichabod should go to the Maldives so they could go film there for a bit, but regretted it when someone pointed out wearing his usual costume in that heat.
Thanks to Tom for taking the time to talk to us, he is definitely a lovely guy. Tomorrow, on my last article covering The MCM London Comic Con, I’ll go over the Gaming scene at the Con.