North Texas Daily

Interview: “Sleepy Hollow” co-creators on FOX’s new series

Interview: “Sleepy Hollow” co-creators on FOX’s new series

Interview: “Sleepy Hollow” co-creators on FOX’s new series
September 16
16:35 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

The North Texas Daily sat down and chatted with Roberto Orci (left in the picture) and Alex Kurtzman, the co-creators of FOX’s new series “Sleepy Hollow” and screenwriters of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” films. We talked about reinventing Washington Irving’s classic story, the line between television and film, and the horror genre.

Can you just talk about how you came up with the concept and how the whole thing came together?

Roberto Orci: “Well, a young and very talented man named Phil Iscove, who at the time was an assistant at UTA, came in and said, “You know, I had this idea of doing a modern-day ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and maybe the way to get into modern-day is to fuse it with a lot of the ideas in Rip Van Winkle, and you know the idea would be that Ichabod Crane was put to sleep in some way and woke up 250 years after the Revolutionary War,’ and we said, ‘Where do we sign up?’

So from that point, we started developing it together over the course of about eight months. When we pitched it to FOX and they jumped on it right away, which was great because that was really our hope. It just felt like the exact right network for the show. They have been wildly supportive since we started and it’s been this kind of wonderful, crazy evolution to where we are now.”

When coming up with the concept for the show and writing for it, I imagine your minds had to go to some crazy and dark places. What are some of the darkest places that you guys allowed your imaginations to go to?

Alex Kurtzman: “That is an interesting question. Well, it’s interesting because in our minds there is a very big distinction between cable and network in terms of what you can get away with, with violence and horror. Obviously, you can get away with a lot on network, but in a weird way it’s almost a distinction between like a straight slasher movie and a psychological horror movie. We’re not aiming to do a slasher movie. And so I think that we always held in balance the line that we did not want to fully cross in terms of horror and violence and going to dark places.

I think that for us the thing that is more interesting than necessarily just dealing with demons or this sort of apocalypse mythology that has become such a part of the show, and that is enormously fun, but is really looking more into more of the dark spaces of the characters and how these demons reflect their own personal demons.  The bad guy in any good story telling is always, in some weird way, a mirror for your hero’s journey and a mirror for the challenges that they are facing, and some weird sort of physical externalization of that fear that the character is holding on to that they have to overcome. So all of our monsters are emerging from that, in terms of what Abbie and Crane have to face in themselves.

I think what you are going to find, over the course of the season, is that they are going to be battling their own personal demons and we are going to be finding out a lot of things about them that you may not know up front and that they may not be telling each other up front.  Some of those places are darker, some of those places are lighter, and the fun for the audience is a guessing game of knowing which side is going to emerge.”

What do we have to look forward to with this first season as we go forth?

Kurtzman: “Well, my goodness, an enormous amount of fun, a lot of scares, a lot of humor.  There is really nothing like it on television. We have a tremendous cast.  They certainly make it as credible as you could have ever imagined.  The directing has been phenomenal.  The show is massive.  As I’ve mentioned, the line between movies and television is gone these days.  It’s just gone.  And so when people watch TV, I think they are, particularly in genre shows like this, I think they are hoping for a real cinematic experience and that is what we are intending to deliver to them every week.

If you could teach a college course, what course do you think you would teach?  It could be something of your creation or something already existing.

Kurtzman: “Oh, wow. Bob?”

Orci: “Well, if I had the credentials, I would teach American History. And to sort of answer your question, it’s easy to overreact to the things we learn in the history books as kids, in that a lot of it is not exactly fully accurate and that a lot of it is somewhat sugarcoated. And so it is easy when you find that out to react and maybe think more darkly about some of the historical things that we’ve been taught. However, the show attempts to revisit some of those events and still have a wonderment to this first American waking up in the modern day and seeing a lot of the great things that have sprung up in 250 years, and a lot of wonderful things about the country that he helped found. So you have to be fair and balanced, I suppose, but yeah, I would teach true American history.”

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