Rachel Melvin – Sleepy Hollow
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) “Sleepy Hollow has all of these wonderful pop culture references and has a great sense of humor, which makes it so appealing.
A) I’ve actually had this conversation with one or two of our writers on set. How do you guys come up with this stuff because it is funny, has pop culture references, but is also aware of itself? It is historically informed, obviously, but also supernaturally explained. I love it because they are incorporating humor, history and also imagination into the writing. It’s really unique. I’m not sure how many television shows on air now right now can say they check all of those boxes. I am a little bit in awe of it. I have expressed interest in being in the writers’ room because I would like to witness the conversations that happen and how they get from Point A to Point B and how the idea is born and then translated onto paper and then comes to fruition by the end of the episode filming. I’m so fascinated by that process because I feel like it isn’t something that comes naturally with a show like this. It’s not something that would come naturally to me specifically as a writer. So, my curiosity has been peaked. It’s kind of like the movie magic I love that I don’t understand how it works yet appreciate not knowing because I don’t want that appreciation to be lost as a viewer.
Q) There are some incredible mythical figures, but also hints to current political climate. I’m not sure if that was the intent of the writers.
A) Putting myself in the position of a writer (I’ve certainly written things) that is something you do because that’s where your passion comes from, something you believe in. It’s the artistic expression. If you think about any sort of art form (even a painting) the artist is trying to express their views about a topic, whether it is politics or something in the community. That is all art really is, stories about our experiences, how they have shaped us and how we really feel about them. So, it would sort of be a missed opportunity if they didn’t do that – especially with everything that is going on. I think that’s sort of the most poignant thing about art – you are able to express your commentary on it in a very beautiful and artistic way that is open to interpretation that people can either take or leave and resonate with. It’s how we connect nowadays when everything is so media and social media driven. It’s how we get our information. Of course, I would imagine that it is purposeful and I would hope that it is purposeful.
Q) Alex seems a bit guarded. Will we get into her backstory at all?
A) I don’t know that we go into too much details about it. I think I kind of subconsciously pulled things from my own experience that I used and wrote my own backstory to get my emotions across. You’re definitely going to see a deeper side to her, but as far as why she is guarded we don’t go into specific details about. This week there is kind of a hint at some unknown force or entity that has maybe shaped her into the person she is now. We don’t know that story though, but we’ll see the effects of it.
Q) How was Alex originally described to you?
A) The character was described as a MacGuyver type. She was a self-taught engineer who was very sardonic and sarcastic. She was very guarded and skeptical. I think that sort of describes definitely a side of me that I can relate to. I have a blog called “How Bitches Are Made” and it is sort of a story about how this naïve optimistic girl has lived in Los Angeles for so many years and dated a certain amount of people and through auditioning and on set life really chipped away at that part of her and brought her down to her hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Everyone is out to get you until they are not way of thinking. A lot of people would describe that as bitter and jaded, but I just think it is practical and realistic and you learn from your mistakes so it’s good to not be too trusting. So, I have taken that lesson that I have learned in life and applied it to something similar to what Alex has experienced. What it also said in her breakdown was she was working with machines more than people because she knows how machines operate and she likes to see how they work and what makes them work. People are a little unpredictable and complicated for her to spend too much time on. Or maybe she did at one point and it just didn’t pan out so she went in a different direction.
Q) Everyone on the team has a special skillset they bring to Team Witness. We’re sort of scratching the surface with Alex. What do you feel has made her such a great asset?
A) I think that she knows how machines work and she can manipulate them to work in her favor and the favor of her team. She is really good with weapons and is kind of street smart and street savvy. So, she knows how to kind of cut corners to save time. Again, maximize opportunities she might have to work in the team’s favor with conquering the supernatural.
Q) At first, Alex seems to take an analytical approach to the supernatural.
A) She is very analytical. In the beginning, you see she is kind of skeptical about the supernatural and sort of doesn’t believe in it. Because she is someone who needs proof. She needs to understand how something works and with the supernatural your really can’t understand it. She is trying her best and doing the best that she can.
Q) She has started working more with Jenny. Can we expect more development from their relationship?
A) I think they come from similar backgrounds. They have kind of been on their own and had to rely only on themselves. I read somewhere win production or maybe someone said during an interview that they are both scrappy. That’s kind of how they relate to one another when both of them are skeptical and mistrusting people. They both have guards up and I think that is what helps them put their guard down a little bit with each other is that they recognize in one another themselves. Then, I think with Jake, Jenny and Alex you kind of see a bond between the three of them form because you do see Diana (Janina Gavankar) and Ichabod (Tom Mison) go off by themselves so then it is Jake, Jenny and Alex. Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) kind of floats. She goes between Jake, Alex, Crane and Diana, which is kind of fun. She is kind of the bridge between the groups. But you’ll kind of see them bond more over the remainder of the season and it will grow much stronger.
Q) She does lean on Jake a lot, but she does have her walls up as well.
A) I understand the desire to want to see that. That’s something that I didn’t even realize. I think that sort of speaks to the character. Again, she has a very small circle and it is really hard to earn her trust, but Jake (Jerry MacKinnon) has it because they have been working together so long. Jenny is just starting to get it because they are so similar and I think she still has some skepticism about the other two. She understands what Crane is saying and she has to believe it, but she still may be in a little bit of denial about it at the same time, despite the fact she is still fighting for him.
Q) How will Malcolm’s deal with the devil play out this season?
A) The terms of the deal that he made are just complex enough to have not one easy solution to end the fight. There are multiple layers and a lot of moving parts You are going to see them all play out and the team have to deal with it as it unravels and unfolds. The thing that is great is you never want to make your characters feel like they are fighting an easy fight. So, it’s great to watch them have these small victories and be like, “Oh my God! There is no way out of this one! How are they going to get out of it?” That is what makes it fun, exciting and riveting to watch. I think the writers did a really good job at making sure that it is how it would play out and that is how the audience would feel throughout the duration of the season.
Q) Also, I love that “Sleepy Hollow” honored the character Abby and losing her, something she deserved. They have kept her memory alive in the series.
A) There are a couple of episodes towards the end of the season. You’re right, they do that and I think that is very cool and very real. You don’t ever forget. So many shows have someone die and you’re fighting in their honor, but never really actively keep their spirit or memory alive. I’m really happy I’m on a show that doesn’t do that. They really do keep her spirit alive, just like you would in everyday life. The most important thing is to let the audience know that we’re sympathizing with them and we’re with them in that regard.
Q) What do you hope viewers take away from watching this season?
A) Before I got on the show, I know everyone was nervous about how this season was going to look. So, I guess what I’m hoping for is everyone feels the show is back to what made them love I tin the first place. I know Twitter fans were expressing that maybe the show had sort of maybe strayed from how it began. So, I hope they feel it definitely now. I hope they have accepted the new characters into their life as they have accepted the original ones. And I hope they are excited enough by it that they want to see a fifth season and I do hope they feel the show spoke to the essence of the character that they loved enough to feel they were honored by it. I want them to feel like we me made up for Abby’s absence. Not that we excused it, but that we honored it this season to feel like she was still a part of it.