Sleepy Hollow star Tom Mison says it’s honestly “terrifying when a 6-foot-3 man runs at you with an ax.” It’s something his character, Ichabod Crane, experiences on a regular basis in the new FOX drama series Sleepy Hollow, premiering Monday, Sept. 16 at 9pm ET/PT.
A fresh face to American TV, the 31-year-old Mison makes for one dreamy-looking Ichabod Crane in FOX’s reiteration — a far cry from the timid schoolteacher we remember from Washington Irving’s classic fable The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. While Irving’s Ichabod was scared of his own shadow, Mison’s Ichabod is refreshingly bold and ballsy — and British. While he’s got his cantankerous and cranky side, he’s adorably curious, arrogant, humorous and just plain sexy, which makes the series oh-so fun.
“You can’t really approach a man who’s been asleep for 250 years and is being chased by a Headless Horseman with a completely earnest, humorless manner,” Mison grins.
When talking to Mison about the pilot episode that finds him clawing through several feet of dirt and debris to unearth himself from his tomb, you get a true appreciation for what the role requires of him.
“It was an ingenious contraption they built,” Mison describes. “There was a cage and kind of like a trolley [mechanism] that I had to be buried in, which was full of this freezing cold gunk and slime. Then they slipped me — on tracks — 30 feet under the set, like barely missing my nose. Then they put four layers of dirt and a layer of wax that they buried me in that I had to break through.”
Sounds not only claustrophobic but downright dirty nasty.
“It was the most terrifying thing I’ve done,” Mison says. “Simply because if it went wrong it was an hour and a half to put that thing back together. So everyone around was like ‘Please Tom — do not mess this up! We don’t want to do all of that work again.’ So when I broke through and I did it, there was a round of applause. And I was like, ‘Gosh, was I that wonderful?’ But it wasn’t anything to do with me, it was just relief that they didn’t have to build the wax grave again.”
The series follows Ichabod, as he is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to modern-day Sleepy Hollow. Trying to make sense of that is just a small problem, as he quickly discovers he’s not alone, for his nemesis — the Headless Horseman — is also revived and is on one hell of a murderous rampage. Ichabod teams up with local Detective Abbie Mills (played by Nicole Beharie, 42 — pictured above), who has some supernatural experiences of her own. The series mixes American history and mythology, the struggle between present and past, and Ichabod’s pursuit to save his late wife Katrina (Katia Winter, Dexter), who is trapped in a mysterious netherworld that both fuels and confuses him.
“I can say one of the main missions was fun,” says Len Wisemen, executive producer. “I mean, we really wanted to be a fun and entertaining show, to be honest. It was something that just finding the right tone and the right balance of horror and suspense and the fantasy element. But we just kept making sure that it would be really fun.”