Remember that Fox show from a few years ago, Sleepy Hollow? It was kinda like Bones meets Supernatural, and followed a time-traveling Ichabod Crane (way hotter than the beanpole geek from the cartoon) who fights evil alongside a modern cop, played by Nicole Beharie. The show lasted four years, and in the third season finale, they killed off Nicole’s character. Which was wild, because she was the lead.
Last year Nicole finally revealed that her main reason for leaving was illness. She was suffering from an autoimmune disease. Now, while promoting her new movie, Miss Juneteenth (her first major role since leaving the show in 2016), she revealed more about how she was treated on set, and her experience being labeled “difficult” post-exit.
Nicole tells The Los Angeles Times (via People):
“My costar and I were both sick at the same time but I don’t believe that we were treated equally,” said Beharie, referencing her her white male costar Tom Mison, who played Ichabod Crane. “He was allowed to go back to England for a month [to recover while] I was given episode 9 to shoot on my own. So I pushed through it and then by the end of that episode I was in urgent care. And all the doctors, including the doctors that the studio was sending, were all confirming, ‘Hey, she can’t work right now.'”
Nicole says it was a ton of pressure, since everyone’s jobs depended on her, but knows it wasn’t personal, it’s just how “these structures are set up”. But once she left the show, she was labeled “problematic”, and blacklisted by some people. In another interview with The New York Times, Nicole shared that she had to hire a lawyer to fight for her to get her “hours down” (Sleepy Hollow, like a lot of TV shows, had 16-18 hour workdays), and this added to her “difficult” label:
“When you’re a person of color or a woman of any race, you can be labeled in a way that can change the trajectory of your life, health and career,” she said. “I lost out on a lot of jobs and opportunities because of how somebody labeled me. I tried to get work afterwards and people were like, ‘We heard you were difficult,'” she continued. “But no one can say I was late or unprofessional or negative.”
After her character, Abbie, was killed off, there was major backlash from fans, and the hashtag #AbbieDeservesBetter trended. Nicole was shocked by this, but believes that her fan base “picked up on something”. She says that, at the time, she was too busy healing from her illness to “really take it in”, and that she “didn’t have the voice yet”. She went to say that her situation was difficult, but she’s “learned a lot”:
“I am reconciling what it means to be an actor and an artist and a woman of color. The consequences of making a mistake or causing a ripple in the water are greater. And ultimately, nobody wants to be [deemed] trouble. So those situations hold you back and you keep quiet, not wanting to upset anyone or ask too many questions. But I feel like I, and the world as a whole, are in a different place now and I’m happy about that.”
Fox has yet to comment. At the time of Nicole’s departure, they released a statement about their “bold move” and Abbie’s “poignant conclusion”. The show only lasted a year after Abbie was killed. I mean, I never watched it, but it’s a miracle Sleepy Hollow ran for four full seasons. A time-traveling Ichabod Crane fighting Death? Sexual “will they, won’t they?” tension between the leads? It’s all so stupid, aaaaand who am I kidding, that kinda Buffy shit sounds right up my alley! WHERE DO I STREAM?