Washington Irving introduced the world to Crane — a superstitious, opportunistic, scarecrow-skinny man with “huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose” — in his 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Droll, dignified, drop-dead gorgeous Mison is…not that Ichabod. “The short story’s only 17 pages long, so we needed to draw a much larger tapestry,” Goffman explains. So the show’s creators radically altered Crane’s backstory, transforming him into a blue-blooded Oxford history professor-turned-Revolutionary spy. Though Goffman calls this revamped Ichabod a “wholly new” character, Mison says he based his performance on what would happen “if Walter White from Breaking Bad were played by Roger Moore.” As for Mison’s body, which is considerably sexier than that of Irving’s Ichabod? “I’m far too self-deprecating to comment on that,” the actor demurs.
When it comes to Revolutionary-era history, Englishman Mison is a novice. (Schools in the U.K. tend to skip over this period, he says, “because it’s a war we lost.”) Still, he found Sleepy Hollow‘s pilot script gripping. A week after sending in an audition tape, he was brought in to test opposite Nicole Beharie, who had already been cast as detective Abbie Mills. The two spent three hours exploring their crackling chemistry — and two hours later Mison had the part.
Ichabod Crane may never change out of his dramatic colonial garb, but Mison does. The show’s wardrobe department has four copies of Crane’s military-inspired outfit designed by costumer Sanja Hays. “I’m appreciating [the attire] now that it’s not 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity here,” Mison says with a laugh. (Sleepy Hollow shoots in what the actor calls a “dark corner of deepest North Carolina.”) Weather aside, it’s easy to understand why Ichabod hasn’t ditched the long wool coat and knee-high boots just yet: “The entire world has changed, and all that he has as some comfort are these clothes from his time,” Goffman says. But as Ichabod slowly adapts to the present day, Sleepy Hollow will “expose him to both online shopping and fashion,” teases Goffman. Skinny jeans ahead?
Ichabod’s yearning for his beloved wife, Katrina (Katia Winter) — a benevolent witch stuck in a woodsy purgatory — hasn’t stopped hordes of “Ichabbie” shippers from rooting for an Ichabod/Abbie hookup. Goffman agrees that the characters are “fantastic together” and “complement each other so well,” before pointing out the obvious obstacle: “But he’s married.” Mison won’t say which coupling he prefers — “I know that there are very strong opinions on both sides” — but he does hint that future episodes will further explore Ichabod and Katrina’s bond, helping viewers understand why their relationship is so enduring.
Sleepy knows just how to wring humor from Ichabod struggling to acclimate to today’s America. Or, as Mison describes it, acting like a “moody little prick.” Take his response to looking over the receipt for his doughnut holes:
“What’s insane is a 10 percent levy on baked goods. You do realize the Revolutionary War began on less than 2 percent? How is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage?”
And Coming Up This Season…
Sleepy Hollow returns Nov. 4 with an episode that introduces John Noble’s Henry Parrish — a recluse who may hold the key to helping Ichabod and Abbie defeat the Headless Horseman. And expect more of the series’ trademark twists on history, à la its take on the lost settlement of Roanoke: Both Paul Revere’s midnight ride and Benjamin Franklin’s “glass armonica” pop up later this season, Goffman says. He also hints that a Pocahontas story line is in the works.