Fox's 'Sleepy Hollow' Will Have a 'Darker Look' But 'Fun Tone,' Says Co-Creator

"We've been extremely involved from the minute we started," co-creator Alex Kurtzman assured reporters of his involvement -- along with Roberto Orci's and Len Wiseman's -- in the fall drama.
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"Sleepy Hollow" panel

Fox's Sleepy Hollow is merging two worlds into one, with a fun supernatural bent. That, at least, is what producers want to hammer home.

Sleepy Hollow, a modern-day retelling of the 19th century short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, follows Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) as he is transported to the present day and partners with local detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) to solve the embattled town's mysteries.

"We really wanted it to be fun," director/co-creator Len Wiseman told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour, emphasizing the importance of finding "the right balance" for the horror, suspense and fantasy elements that make up the show.

Co-creator/executive producer Alex Kurtzman credited co-creator/supervising producer Phillip Iscove with having the main ingredients that would ultimately mold the series. "He managed to size up the time travel aspect," Kurtzman said, adding that the story of Sleepy Hollow was infused with the Rip Van Winkle tale "and finding the best of both of them." For Kurtzman and the producers, that "clicked" as an entry point. (The Rip Van Winkle story will not play into Sleepy Hollow, for now.)

As Kurtzman explained it, "Ichabod could be a lens" through whom we view our present world.

"It is a slightly different world than our own," Wiseman added. "It needed to be dark, but dark while still being fun. … We wanted to create a movie on television. This is definitely a genre series and we wanted it to have that flavor to it, a darker look as long as the tone is fun."

An iconic character, the Headless Horseman, will be shown "in a new light," Wiseman promised. "When he does come back into the series from time to time, he is still a man. He's not just a creature." One of the more intriguing challenges that the producers face is "how much of a personality you can get out of somebody when they're not expressing," Wiseman said. Kurtzman hinted at potential interrogation scenes with Headless, something they had wanted to incorporate in the pilot: "What would that even be like?" 

Headless will get his head back, producers said, but it won't happen early in the run of the show. "He needs his head for a specific reason," Wiseman said. 

As producers revealed, historical flashbacks will play a substantial role on Sleepy Hollow — especially in regards to telling the tale of the Headless Horseman (one of four, Wiseman reminded reporters), but promised that there are "higher powers in the works." Producers revealed that they will be casting the role for the flashbacks.

Kurtzman and producing partner/co-creator Roberto Orci, as well as Wiseman, addressed their busy schedules. "We've been extremely involved from the minute we started," Kurtzman assured, crediting showrunner Mark Goffman for taking over day-to-day duties. Orci added that he and Kurtzman are writing more episodes, with Wiseman directing a few as well.

Sleepy Hollow premieres Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

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