WILMINGTON, NC. It's nearly half-way through production on the second season of FOX's “Sleepy Hollow” and Katia Winter is getting to scratch an itch.
Let's pretend that I'm being metaphorical and talking about the expanded opportunities for Winter's Katrina, who spent the first “Sleepy Hollow” as more of a recurring plot device than a recurring character. She'd show up in expositional flashbacks or she'd pop up to help cut a narrative corner through witchcraft, but it was hard to get a feeling for Katrina as a person, much less for Katrina and Ichabod as a couple.
Perhaps that's why a large segment of the “Sleepy Hollow” fandom was able to ignore that when they shipped IchAbbie, one of the principals was a man who was, at least ostensibly, happily married.
Through the two episodes that have aired, we've already gotten more of Katrina as a human character than we got all of last season and the contemporary scene with Katrina and Ichabod last week was new for the show.
So let's say I'm being metaphorical.
No, it's a steamy day in late August in North Carolina and the itch that Winter is scratching is very literal. She was out shooting in the woods the night before and, as seems to happen simply as a matter of course in such circumstances, she was eaten alive by unidentified insects. So as we sit talking about Katrina's expanded Season 2 role, Winter is going through a cycle of scratching and apologizing.
As you might guess, skin irritations aside, Winter is happy to find herself with a regular TV role this season, as well as a character she can sink her teeth into, like a chigger sinking its teeth into a Swedish actress in the forest. In our conversation, she discusses the tensions between Katrina and Ichabod, as well as Katrina's feelings for her Moloch-affiliated son.
And we talked about the bugs and humidity. It was hard not to…
Click through for the full Q&A… And catch a new “Sleepy Hollow” tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX.
HitFix: So in the first season, Katrina's really sort of more of an idea than actually a person. She's sort of this thing that's out there with power…
Katia Winter: That no one really knows. [She laughs.]
HitFix: That no one really knows. What has it been like this season to actually make a person of her?
Katia Winter: Great. So great! I've been waiting. I feel I've been waiting so long. It's nice to kind of finally have some breathing room and just have an actual dialogue with all these characters rather than turning up and spitting out lots of information, which will help move her along. So it's been great kind of coming into her… I'm exploring it myself as I go because I haven't really been able to do much of that in season one, and then having real moments with Crane and real moments with Abbie and the Headless Horseman. That's been a lot of fun.
HitFix: Well, talk a bit about sort of the last season, because as you say she sort of shows up and she sort of drops exposition. She sort of gives them hints about things but she's not so much a person. What are the challenges of doing what you had to do last season?
Katia Winter: Well, even though I did less last season that was a lot harder than this season because of the nature of the scenes. It's so hard because it happened so quickly and you turn up and I meet the man that I love and I haven't seen him in 231 years, and then having all that pain and torment to but then I don't have any time to connect with him, I had to just spit out this information and kind of help him along because we're always running out of time. So that was a really, really tough challenge. And then obviously for fans not to see why they're so in love… [She pauses to scratch.] Sorry I'm itching because I have bug bites everywhere. Shooting in the forest… [More scratching and laughing.] Oh my God it's driving me crazy! So to see their love and how good they were and obviously when they get back together in this season it's not going to be all happy-go-lucky because they have some real relationship stuff to work through, which I find interesting because they're dynamic changes. The first time they actually sit down in a room together alone, which is what they've been wanting for so long, it's a little awkward at first because lots of stuff has happened, Crane is hurt because he didn't know she was a witch or a spy or all that stuff. So he's obviously angry and she feels guilty to a certain extent, but also those sort of things she had to do.
HitFix: Well, how much were the writers able to tell you about Katrina as a person last season or was there just a no time for that even?
Katia Winter: I didn't really get that much guidance, but I think this season… I mean I knew kind of the bigger story plots and storylines. I knew what she was. I knew she was a witch and she was a spy and a strong independent woman and willing to sacrifice her own life for the greater good and all that, so that says a lot about a person. But just the little things that you discover when you do a scene with different characters, like the way she reacts to certain things and her personality comes through a lot more. Those are the things that I didn't really… I mean I sort of knew where I wanted to take it, but once you start playing those scenes out then you're like, “Okay this is what she's really like.”
HitFix: So what can you tell me about what she's really like?
Katia Winter: She's definitely a little stubborn. She's very strong-headed. And it's interesting because she really tries to keep her emotions in check this season. Because obviously Crane is being hurt; she's working against Abbie; Abbie wanting to go after Henry when Henry is her son and she still wants to give him the benefit of the doubt because she wants to redeem him and all this anger coming towards her. I mean I know she wants to lash back but she's trying to compose herself and they work through it because in her mind, she didn't actually do anything wrong, she did what she had to do at the time because, you know, during the circumstances. There's probably going to be a point where she kind of, a tipping point where she just explodes. That's going to be fun.
HitFix: You're looking forward to that?
Katia Winter: Yeah. [She laughs.]
HitFix: And what are her maternal feelings like towards Henry at this point seeing what he is?
Katia Winter: Very strong. Very strong. And I think it was a very guilt-driven the thing too. Obviously he's doing all these things because of what she did to him, even though she didn't have a choice at the time. But she obviously feels very guilty and that's why she's fighting so hard to bring him back, if it's even possible. She's going to give it all until the very, very end. That's where the big rift between her and Abbie is coming and Crane is stuck right in the middle, because obviously he's best friends with Addie and I'm his wife and Henry's also his son, but he's also a little bit more rational than me and he's been fighting this war in modern time longer than I have so he's been. So yeah, it's a lot of conflict.
HitFix: Well, I'm still trying to get this straight. When John was cast did you know the son part of it?
Katia Winter: Mmm-hmmm.
HitFix: Okay. And what was your reaction when you got those details?
Katia Winter: I thought it was great. I didn't expect that at all. I was very surprised. I knew it quite early on that we were going to have a grown-up son. I didn't really know how or when or who it was going to be. Yeah, no, I think they played that out of brilliantly and nobody saw it coming really.
HitFix: And is it easy to have maternal feelings for John Noble?
Katia Winter: It is. He calls me, “Mother” all the time. Every time I see him he goes, “Mother.” Yeah, no, he is amazing. We have a great relationship. He's amazing to work with. [She yells across the room to Noble, in the middle of his own interview. You can see the picture above. ] I'm saying good things about you! Little boy. [Noble replies mock-witheringly, “Thanks… mother.”]
HitFix: Tell me a bit about the Crane/Katrina relationship, sort of the positive side of it and why these two go together as well as, at least at some point, they obviously did.
Katia Winter: Yeah. I think they're are a lot alike in many ways. I think what I like about them, it's not like it's all happy-go-lucky. They fight a lot and I think Crane really admires that strong-headed side of he, like whenever she gets passionate about something and does it, that driven a side of her. I think that really gets to him and that's one of the reasons he fell for her in the beginning. But just them two being together and seeing their chemistry on screen in a moment, in a non-rushed moment, I think is so important. Just their dynamic and how they are with each other.
HitFix: Now, did you pay any attention during the first season to the people online, to the shippers as it were and what do you think when you see people shipping on your husband with another woman?
Katia Winter: [She laughs.] I mean I ship Ichabbbie too because I think I love their chemistry and their friendship. I really do. And I think for my side it's never been — well Katrina's side — it's never been a jealousy thing in terms of thinking she's going to take my husband away from me, it's more a jealousy or a guilty feeling that I couldn't be there for him during this time because obviously I was stuck in Purgatory and I couldn't help him and Abbie was there and they sort of found each other and they work really well together. So I think it's more of a jealousy in partnership than it is… You'll see that when I enter this equation. Abbie is a little uncomfortable because she's used to being Crane's No.1 and obviously when I come in the picture he's sort of in the middle and tries to please both parts. But from both sides I don't think it's a jealously issue of love, it's more of a friendship I think or a partnership.
HitFix: Well, but for fans…
Katia Winter: But the fans, of course. I know the fans obviously want them to get together, which I don't think that's ever going to happen. But I know their partnership is probably not going to end. And also I don't blame them because they didn't see any of Katrina. No one really knows Katrina very well so I was surprised that I even have Katrina fans that ship at IchKatrina in the first place. But they do exist. They're out there.
HitFix: Where did you find them?
Katia Winter: On Twitter. They tweet me. [Mock indignant.] I get tweets, you know. [She laughs.]
HitFix: But do you think that audiences are going to be able to sort of look at the relationship between Ichabod and Katrina and understand I guess?
Katia Winter: I hope so. I really do. I hope so. Yeah. And I hope they'll kind of understand the relationship between, not actual relationship but whatever it is forming between Katrina and Headless too. It's an interesting dynamic.
HitFix: Tell me a bit about that relationship.
Katia Winter: Well, she's captured and she's forced to be with him and she sees him as Abraham not as the Headless. She sees the person that he used to be. And he actually is not a bad person. If you look back in season one, I mean he was betrayed by his best friend and his fiancé so he didn't really do anything wrong, he was just not right for Katrina at the time. So I think she starts to understand that he actually genuinely loves her and I think the dynamic shifts a little bit. Obviously she uses that to her advantage, but there's also, you know, an understanding or feelings develop and, you know, the stuff that he does for her, good things, so maybe that triggers an idea that he might be able to be redeemed or saved as well as Henry.
HitFix: Well, is it a Stockholm Syndrome kind of thing?
Katia Winter: Yeah. A little bit.
HitFix: Okay. And do you sort of think of it in terms of those terms or you just think of it in terms of “This is a crazy magic world and I don't need to ground it in anything”? How do you approach it?
Katia Winter: No, no, it's very much a real. It's very real and it's kind of a painful situation, especially when you see that somebody has genuine feelings for her. I mean he has a very interesting way of showing it because he doesn't really know how to handle it, like “Beauty and the Beast” when he first comes in and he's being really rough and tries to cook her dinner and just kind of throws the food on the table, but he tries to do nice things for her. It's a little bit funny, but once she starts to understand that he actually generally cares for her I think it's impossible for somebody not to care back, whether it's just out of just caring, it might not be out of love but she definitely cares for him as a person and that causes a little bit of jealousy from Ichabod's side.
HitFix: And are you getting to do all of your scenes, of the scenes with Neil or some of them with the guy in the largest suit?
Katia Winter: Both. Because everyone else sees him as Headless but I'm the only one who sees him as Abraham so Neil is a big part of the season.
HitFix: Is it different acting opposite the giant guy in the suit as opposed to acting opposite the British actor?
Katia Winter: A little bit because he has just a green head and he doesn't say anything, while Neil is there reading the lines back to me but it's only if somebody is witnessing the both of us or seeing the both of us then they'll see me talking to a guy without a head. But from when I look at him I see him the way I remember him.
HitFix: And what can you tell me about how sort of Katrina's powers exist in our world?
Katia Winter: She's a little crippled at first because she's at our modern-day time and her powers are coming back to her gradually, but it's been fun to … Because I didn't do any of that. I was saying that to the writers I managed to spin a little twig. That was about it. So I think they were really excited to write in some cool magic.
HitFix: So how powerful are you getting to be so far this season?
Katia Winter: Well, it's a gradual process and it's growing and growing. And I would say by Episode 5, I'm doing a bunch of magic.
HitFix: Now, last season did you already sort of know come season two if it happened that you were going to be more regular and more integrated into the story?
Katia Winter: Oh yeah. I definitely and they said that from the start. I think originally we were supposed to do a bigger season one, like 20 something episodes, so I knew halfway through season one my storyline was going to get a lot bigger. But then they decided to do 13 so it was pushed to season two, but no definitely.
HitFix: What was it like for you to sort of work knowing sort of in the back of your mind okay something bigger is coming but it's off there in the future?
Katia Winter: Yeah. It was a little frustrating because I was just kind of sitting around for six months; I couldn't do anything else, but I was working maybe one day an episode. And I'm not that kind of person that likes to sit still and not do anything. So it's like I was working on other stuff and writing and doing other things but I'm very happy to actually… I'm not complaining about working too much because it's fun.
HitFix: How has it been sort of getting into the pace of the show? This is a show that has a very fast moving place in terms of production from what I've been led to believe.
Katia Winter: Yeah. I mean it's intense. You shoot an episode in eight days and you don't get that much time. You have to be ready when you turn up on-set. You block it once and then you start filming. There's no rehearsals really and there's a new director each episode so you have to get used to a new way of working because everyone work a little differently. It's intense.
HitFix: You mentioned on Twitter that there are the Katrina/Ichabod fans. What kind of reactions do you generally sort of see online or when you go to fan events or what not? How do people respond to you?
Katia Winter: I mean I'm happy, people haven't really responded to me negatively, they've just kind of shipped Ichabod on Abbie. They haven't been mean. I have never got any mean comments of anything like that, which has been nice. And then there's fans that, “We want you and Ichabod to get back with his wife. Where is Katrina?” There's been a lot of people asking me like, “Where are you? Why aren't you in more scenes and like what's happening?” That was the general response when I got season one. [She pauses to scratch again.]
HitFix: Okay, tell me about the bugs. [She laughs and apologizes, mid-scratch.] No I'm curious, so you're out working in the woods, is it mosquitoes? Is it blackflies? What is it?
Katia Winter: I don't know what it is. We've encountered spiders and bee nests and mosquitoes and chiggers everywhere. One of our crewmembers got bit by a black widow; it's intense. Someone's always going to the hospital being bit by something.
HitFix: But do you know what was biting you?
Katia Winter: No, I just woke up and I have these huge bites everywhere.
HitFix: Is there anything that you do on-set to sort of avoid that?
Katia Winter: Well, there's nothing you can do really. You spray on bug spray, but it's so humid and it's been raining and you like have to run around barefoot in the forest, for example. There's nothing you can do, just pray that you're not stepping on a snake or a spider.
HitFix: Well, do you like all that humidity or have you been sort of happy with the environment? And also I guess with doing as much work as you guys been doing in the summer I mean that seems like…
Katia Winter: Yeah, I mean I can't wait for the fall. That's definitely going to be easier. Yeah.
HitFix: Give me a worst heat and humidity story from the summer, like how bad did things get?
Katia Winter: Well, it's generally not that bad, but when you're in a wig and corsets and like five layers of wool like skirts and stockings underneath, that gets a little hot. Scarfs and, you know… And Tom is in a wig too. It feels like you're wearing a hat essentially.
HitFix: Well, but it looked like his costume was much lighter.
Katia Winter: His is much lighter than mine. For sure.
HitFix: Does anyone understand what you're going through?
Katia Winter: Not really. [She laughs.] There's only the stunt doubles I have that have to get dressed in the same costume, they always come up to me and it's like, “How do you do this every day. It's so hot.” And you can't really breathe because the corset is tied so tight. It's intense.
*** Interview: 'Sleepy Hollow' star John Noble on Season 2 and what drives War, Henry and Jeremy?
*** Interview: Nicole Beharie on 'Sleepy Hollow' Season 2 and North Carolina summer heat
*** Tom Mison on 'Sleepy Hollow' Season 2 and an odd 'Silence of the Lambs' comparison
*** 'Sleepy Hollow' star Orlando Jones on Captain Irving's legal woes and interacting with fans
“Sleepy Hollow” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.