Bentley's Hollywood Notebook: Nicole Beharie of 'Sleepy Hollow' ready for a break

FresnoJanuary 19, 2014 

FOX's biggest hit from the fall season, "Sleepy Hollow," wraps up its first season with the episode airing at 8 tonight on KMPH (Channel 26.1).

The show is ending early because the production is so complicated. Only 13 episodes were ordered. It will be back next year with the same number of episodes produced.

The mystery- adventure drama from co-creators/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci ("Star Trek") offers a modern twist on Washington Irving's classic, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Tom Mison ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen") plays a resurrected Ichabod Crane who must deal with the modern world — something as alien to him as the Headless Horseman is to those around him.

A lot of this world is seen through the eyes of the police officer played by Nicole Beharie, who first encounters Crane and becomes his partner in dealing with the mysteries. She came to this heavy science fantasy show after starring in the feature film "42," where she played Jackie Robinson's wife, Rachel.

Beharie never expected "Sleepy Hollow" to be so physically and mentally challenging.

"I am going to be honest. It's a labor of love, but a challenge," Beharie tells me at a party thrown by FOX for the press and the network's stars. "We had very little time for error. We had no margin to go back and shoot things. The pages were coming in, and we were shooting them that day.

"And, they were intense pages. There are dense historical references, emotional story lines. There was never a second to get bored because it is so complicated, but also intimate."

And, because most of the creepy tale takes place at night, much of the series has been filmed after the sun goes down. Because the actors were bouncing between daytime and nighttime schedules, there was little time to rest. She said the schedule started wearing everyone down, but at the same time made everyone a lot closer. They found a supportive bond to get through the first year.

Beharie used that fatigue to play her role. She felt like her character would be exhausted from trying to deal with a world where the supernatural now seems very natural.

Each script presented three levels of work — the fantasy, the historical and the personal. As demanding as all of that became, Beharie calls being on the FOX series a gift. The role earned her a nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for the "The 45th NAACP Image Awards."

As honored as she is to have the recognition and the series, Beharie says the real honor in her life is having worked on "42." Recently, she saw a picture of Jackie Robinson and became very emotional because she feels like she helped tell his story to a new generation through the feature film.

 

Connick's big decision

This year, Harry Connick Jr. goes from being a mentor on "American Idol" to being one of the reality competition show's three judges. Connick was willing to take on the expanded role because he likes the show so much. But it means being away from his family.

Connick has been married to former Victoria's Secret model Jill Goodacre for almost 20 years, and they have three children.

"It's been a little thin on the family side, and it's not that great to be honest with you. I miss my family, but I happen to absolutely love what I do and everybody in my family happens to love what they do. They all love their schools, and my wife, Jill, loves her life. So nobody's miserable, but we miss each other," Connick says during a chat about the upcoming "American Idol XIII."

"I'm not going to lie to you. I wish I could be with them every day, but they know that I have to work and they love it and they support it and no complaints."

Goodacre is partly responsible for Connick taking on the "American Idol" job.

"She is a big fan of the show. We've watched the show since the very first episode and she always kind of would say it would be great to see you as a judge," Connick says. "I respect her very much and just the fact that she could see me up there really always made me feel nice.

"Then when it actually happened, she was just delighted because I'm her husband and she loves the show and she's really excited about this."

The fact they have been married almost 20 years is amazing for anyone involved in the entertainment world. Connick says there are many variables to a good relationship, but the most important is that she's his best friend.

"She is the first one I go to when I want to talk about things or when I want to have fun or whatever," Connick adds.

Broadway came calling for Quinto

During the summer TV critics tour, Zachary Quinto showed up at a FOX party.

The easy assumption to make was he was making an appearance on the third installment of the "American Horror Story" franchise. He had been in the first two. But, as "Coven" winds toward its finale, I've not seen Quinto.

One thing that's kept Quinto away from the show is that he is appearing on Broadway, playing Tom in "The Glass Menagerie."

"It's amazing to do," Quinto tells me about being in the stage revival. "We did the show up in Boston at the beginning of the year and I had an incredible experience there and I am thrilled to get the chance to keep doing it."

Quinto praises "American Horror Story" creator Ryan Murphy for doing something that hasn't seen done much in the TV world.

"He's created a company of actors who work together and rotate in an out of main roles and supporting roles. It's a great feeling to be able to breathe with the story and immerse ourself in one story and then have it be completely different characters and different roles. As an actor, it's a gold mine,' Quinto says.

"As an actor, I would love to keep working on it but it all depends on where I fit into a season with what they want to accomplish."

Whether in or out of a season, Quinto is part of the repertory company that is "American Horror Story." The flexibility with the cast is why there is always a possibility he could show up in an episode or be featured in future incarnations.

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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