Played by Nicole Beharie, Sleepy Hollow’s Abbie Mills is a magnet for supernatural trouble. As children, she and her sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) stumbled across the demon Moloch in the forest. Abbie lied about the incident, while a truthful Jenny was deemed crazy and shipped off to a mental institute.
Flash forward 13 years: As a police lieutenant, Abbie serves the small town of Sleepy Hollow. When Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and his arch-nemesis the Headless Horseman are resurrected in the present, Abbie once again gets sucked into otherworldly mayhem. Apparently, the Book of Revelation foretold that two Witnesses would stand against the forces of evil and prevent the Apocalypse from destroying the Earth. Abbie and Ichabod are those chosen ones. Now, on a regular basis, the pair contends with Moloch's minions, the Headless Horseman and Ichabod's vengeful son Henry (John Noble), who also happens to be one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Beharie recently spoke with journalists about preparing for Sleepy Hollow's supernatural war, The Mills family legacy, recruiting bad boy Nick Hawley (Matt Barr) to the cause, and Abbie versus Katrina (Katia Winter).
Can you talk about Nick Hawley? After what happened with the succubus, do you think he will be a little more receptive to helping Abbie without expecting payment?
Nicole Beharie: The nature of Hawley's character is he's an arms dealer. He's like a black-market dealer. He should expect to be paid for his time. I think that slowly, the Witness pair – Crane and Abbie – are both working on pulling his heartstrings. He's warmed up to Crane. I think you saw him in Club Twerk. When the succubus took Hawley over and took him back to the docks, he realized there are much bigger things at stake and that the money isn't going to save him.
When it comes to Abbie, I think they have a really strange relationship, where she hears what he wants and he knows what she wants. They just barter and bargain.
This season has mostly featured folklore creatures. Will the series be going back more into demons from the Bible?
There is a bit of that coming up in the [mid-season] finale. We definitely go back to the biblical storytelling, especially when it comes back to the Headless Horseman and the Apocalypse. But I'm personally really loving all the different folklore. The episode that we're shooting right now is based on Voodooism, so we're taking it international in a way. We're just exploring all the different dark entities. I personally think it's fascinating.
What can you tease about Abbie and Ichabod's investigation at Tarrytown in tonight's episode, “Mama”? It looks to be quite personal.
Monday night's episode is a big episode for the Mills sisters, and for Abbie as a Witness. They basically have to go back into their past, and the place they don't necessarily want to revisit, and discover and rehash and talk to Crane. Especially with Abbie, she doesn't necessarily want to talk a great deal about her past and the fact that her mother was in a psych ward and she was in a foster home. Even though it's difficult being a Witness, and to having a purpose, the power of being a Witness is very liberating for Abbie. Having to go back to the childhood that was really troubling and exploring that, was for me, a really difficult journey. And I'm sure for the character.
But, they end up finding out there was a reason they were basically dragged through the mud as children to get them to this point where Abbie is a Witness and Jenny is this amazing kick-ass, know-it-all on all things occult. You see that. The revelation that their mother was more than just a psychiatric patient is one of the big payoffs in the story. There is a lot of darkness in the family history. It's a little bit of a ride and kind of a tough one to watch.
Does the investigation bring Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) back into the fold?
When Henry Parrish got him to sign that contract, the Witnesses had to step back a little bit and figure out where he stood. In [episode] 209, you actually see quite a bit of Irving in a way that you've never seen him before.
From an emotional standpoint, what's the hardest part about the episode?
I heard that we were going to do an episode with the sisters, that they were going to get together and kick some ass. Then I was like, "Oh, my God. This is really going to cost them." The cool thing about the show is the monsters are personal. Everybody has been giving Ichabod a hard time because he's been having trouble with his family and Abbie is trying to keep him on track. But it's so personal. Who wouldn't be having those problems? All the situations leave everybody in a really uncomfortable and uncertain place.
Is there a possibility during season two that somebody from Abbie's past will enlighten viewers on how she became a Witness?
If you tune into Monday's episode, you'll definitely get the beginnings of that conversation. Lori Mills does show up in the episode. You find out that there is a legacy their family has. Hopefully there will be a little bit more explained later in in the season.
Will we get to see more of the effects that Purgatory had on Abbie?
I think the characters are so resilient. They just had to get it together. The Purgatory situation was really quick. It just sort of happened and they popped out of it and had to keep going. That is definitely systematic and true of people who are in a battle situation. There's a horrible thing going on, but they don't even have the time to catch their breath. They just had to keep going. 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 is as dynamic. You'll get to see the Witnesses come together and discuss a little bit about their battle wounds, but not from Purgatory.
What if Abbie had to take Henry out without the support of Ichabod? Do you think she would do it?
Absolutely. No question.
How would she take him out?
I don't know. That's for the writers to decide. For the remainder of the season, you actually see them becoming a lot more, rather than reactive, they are proactive. They are trying to get ahead of Henry and Moloch. You seem them planning and doing the espionage by having Katrina in the house. They are doing all the little things that you would do to win a war. It takes us back to the first episode of the season where they say, "This is war." We're back on track. That's really exciting to me.
You and Tom have an amazing chemistry. Abbie is the "straight man" as Ichabod discovers all the technology. Does Tom ad-lib a lot? Are there times when you want to burst out laughing?
There's not a great deal of ad-lib. The writers are really talented. They come up with it and Tom has a dexterity with language. It feels very natural. It feels like it's been ad-libbed. Those are actually the lines on the page. He just takes them off the page and brings them to life. As far as cracking up, there are a few moments we die laughing. It's normally not even the text. It's just little goofy things that we'll do off set. We have little these warm-ups that we do together.
We saw a little bit of a verbal smackdown between Abbie and Katrina. Who would win a real smackdown between the two of them?
Oh, no, no, no. Why do women have to fight each other when they are both on the same side? I just don't get it. Why can't Katrina be an awesome witch and do amazing things, and Abbie do really well what she does, and they unite? That's what I want to see. I don't want to necessarily see them fighting one another. I think they probably have to work out the kinks in their relationship as a group. Hopefully, there won't have to be a smackdown. If there is a smackdown, I'll let the audience decide.
Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.