'Bones,' 'Sleepy Hollow' Bosses on Embracing the Unknown in Halloween Crossover

Jonathan Collier ('Bones') and Clifton Campbell ('Sleepy Hollow') talk with THR about what to expect from the big crossover.
Patrick McElhenney/FOX

The announcement that Fox's Bones and Sleepy Hollow would be doing a two-hour crossover event left many scratching their heads since the both series exist in separate universes with completely different philosophies. Those philosophies collide Oct. 29 when Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and her team stumble upon the remains of British Gen. Howe.

The more than 200-year-old skeleton gets Brennan excited but also brings Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie) to town as they look to bring the remains back to Sleepy Hollow to solve a mystery of their own. Both teams will have to work together in order to get what they need.

Here, Bones executive producer Jonathan Collier and Sleepy Hollow showrunner Clifton Campbell talk with THR about how the different philosophies are actually what make the crossover fun — and why they are already eager to do it again.

What are the challenges in bringing these shows together when they come from such different worlds?

CollierIt’s been great working with Clifton because its a very open relationship. My understanding is that in Sleepy Hollow, the supernatural is reality. In our show, it’s entirely science based. We do not believe in the supernatural so we have to reconcile the two.

CampbellWithin that challenge became the fun of making this work. We identified a case that would jumpstart their story but would also be a natural transition into our hour and not make us have to take those walls down but to build what we needed for our hour and have a lot of fun participating in the events that were procedural in their hour.

Our guys looked terrific in [the Bones] hour and looked comfortable and natural, despite obviously one guy walking through the door looking like Ichabod Crane. Your guys embraced our characters so seamlessly it was wildly successful in yours. I was utterly and completely charmed at the final result of [the Bones] episode.

CollierOur guys got to go on an adventure they would never get to go on in yours. It was so exciting and fun for us. [Sleepy Hollow] has a different look and shoots in a different way than [Bones]. They integrated so well.

The shows also differ in visual tone as well as storytelling style.

CampbellWe were all a little hesitant on how that would work. It’s not just tonal, but there’s a lot of little things about production. Everyone had fun and everyone came to play. I feel like the results are there in both hours.

CollierThe thing that we hoped for but you can never anticipate is how much fun everyone was having. It wasn’t just in front of the camera that they were having fun. It was really across the board.

Campbell: We shot both parts of the crossover in Los Angeles. Sleepy Hollow usually shoots in Atlanta, but [the Bones cast and crew] were ideal hosts. We felt comfortable and we all felt welcome.

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In the episodes, the like-minded people are paired together: Ichabod and Brennan and then Booth (David Boreanaz) and Abbie. What was the thought process of putting those people together and what did they bring out in each other?

Campbell: I think it happened axiomatically after identifying a crime that we could share. We roughed it out and went into our own separate writers' rooms and looked at what we had. I can’t speak specifically Jon, to your side of it, but we gravitated toward the things that would be most fun to play and the most fun pairing. While we were shooting, and it was in simple ways with minor script adjustments, the cast found ways to have fun with the other cast that they weren’t paired with accidentally. It really shows on film.

Collier: The only thing I regret is that we didn’t get to do more of it.

CampbellWhen I looked at them both side by side, because of the way you guys broke it and the way we broke it, we ended up having our guys more in your hour than the other way around. At the end of ours I felt like, "Oh, I wish we had more scenes with those guys."

Collier: Leave them wanting more.

What do you think your respective fan bases will get out of this crossover?

Campbell: We have a pretty hardcore genre fanbase. Throughout the three seasons we’ve have a concentrated amount of [fans] that stuck around for the genre and came back for the genre. On Twitter and some of the other outlets we were getting some of the, "That sounds interesting." We elicited the right response and they were curious about it. Once they show up, I think they are going to find another show that is one of their favorites.

Collier[Bones] has never done a crossover. Any time you have a chance to do this with a smart, fun show with great leads everyone wins. You are out of your comfort zone, definitely. You have to ask questions and address issues that you wouldn’t otherwise.

CampbellWhile they are completely different tonally, they share such strong DNA components that illicit such loyal viewership. Our audience watching that will pick up on that and it will linger, and hopefully vice versa.

CollierIt’s also a chemistry issue. That's something that you don’t know until you see it. Tom and Nicole have such chemistry and they’re so good that it was really fun to mix the four of them up.

CampbellThey were sharing those little moments as actors and as characters that are very evident in the film. It didn’t feel like either one was too far out of their comfort zone. Just enough of the tone from each show set a table and a platform for all four characters to really shine.

Why should everyone tune in to this particular crossover?

CollierThere’s nothing not fun and entertaining about these two hours. It’s an adventure that we normally wouldn’t get to see these characters take.

CampbellIt’s timely! It’s our Halloween show and hits on all cylinders. It lands emotionally for us and there’s really fun moments at the end where all four of them look at each other and go, "Yeah, that’s kind of cool. We should do this again some day."

If another crossover does happen would you try to incorporate [Bones guest star] Betty White into the mix?

CollierOf course, we would refuse to do it unless she was part of it. I guarantee you she’d be game for it.

The Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover airs Thursday, Oct. 29 from 8-10 p.m. on Fox. Come back to THR's The Live Feed after the episode for more from Campbell and Collier.

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