Actor John Noble (Fringe) is the latest addition to one of the most intriguing and cool casts on network television. As The Sin Eater on the Fox fantasy series Sleepy Hollow, Henry Parrish is a reluctant savior who has already helped out Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) once. And considering that he’ll be returning for three more episodes this season, and possibly more for the already announced Season 2, there is sure to be more trouble coming.
During this recent interview to promote his role on the new hit series, John Noble talked about why the premise of Sleepy Hollow appealed to him, how Henry Parrish is different from Walter Bishop, his favorite moments so far, how much he’s enjoyed working with both Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, and why this show is special. He also talked about his dream to be a part of the Star Wars franchise. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
JOHN NOBLE: I think I got a call through my management first, and then Alex contacted me, and we took it from there. He rung me while I was in Australia.
What was it about this premise that appealed to you?
NOBLE: I knew the evolution of the show because I had remembered talking to Alex and Roberto at the 100th episode party for Fringe. They said they have this new show, and actually said to me, “Would you come on and do a guest role in the pilot?” And then, nothing happened. One of my favorite reading topics is early American History, and this is about the Revolutionary War. I find that whole period absolutely fascinating, and have read widely on it, so that would be enough to make me watch it or be interested in it. But when you link it in with this extraordinary legend that was written in 1826, or something, that is so rich and potent. It’s almost a perfect combination.
What can you say about who this man is?
NOBLE: Henry Parrish is a reluctant savior. He has this ability, in a sense, to remove evil from a person, hence the name, The Sin Eater. Even though he doesn’t want to, he’s called into action basically to save Ichabod’s life, and he does. That is our first introduction, and we establish a relationship that you can see that there is some sort of chemistry between him and Ichabod, and the other principals.
What do you find unique about Henry Parrish?
NOBLE: I thank Alex and Roberto for this, but he’s another one of these really complex, multi-layered characters. When I did Walter Bishop, the great joy of him was the layers that he had. It gave me so much room to play with the psychological levels of the character, and Henry offers me the same. From what I’ve been told by the writers, that’s what we’ll see, as time goes by. That makes going to work a joy.
How different is Henry Parrish from Walter Bishop?
NOBLE: As far as I know, he doesn’t have that extreme range that Walter had, with the mentally damaged character that he was. I don’t see that type of range. What I do see is the depth and the secrets and the psychological twists that I find very appealing about this character. He’s a mysterious man, and we will reveal these mysteries. As time goes by, those revelations will be quite a shock to the other characters and to the audience. That’s great fun to play. But, he’s not a crazy like Walter was.
How did you approach finding your performance for this character?
NOBLE: Very often, the best place to go for these characters is to the script. I don’t know how I absorb things, to be honest with you, but I do. I just absorb them. I don’t over read the script, and I don’t really ever spend much time learning it. Apparently, it just sits around in my ahead, according to my wife. Then, you go and see what the costume is, and you discuss possible costume looks and hair and make-up looks. Some things are obvious, and some things you wouldn’t dream of doing. It’s not one single thing that does it. It’s more the internal chemistry, which comes out in whatever he looks like, however he walks and sounds, and the voice he uses. I do always do some research on how he speaks. I certainly spoke to the writers, at length, as to what accent he may have. That tells you a great deal about things. But, it’s quite an organic process, actually.
NOBLE: It’s funny, believe it or not, but the favorite moment is the first time that the character is exposed. No one has any idea who this character is and, in this situation, it’s a knock on the door. And then, we open the door and meet Henry. I only had two scenes, in the episode, but they were two very big scenes, and both of them were beautifully written. I enjoyed it.
What has your experience been like, working with Tom Mison?
NOBLE: The whole experience with the company was good. Tom, in particular, is a beautiful man. He’s also a fantastic actor, so we had a lot in common. We also found that we had common ground and that we both have a theatre background, so we were able to talk across a whole series of issues and topics, in that way. But really, it was the connection we had on set that was special. When it happens, it’s terrific.
What was it like to work with Nicole Beharie?
NOBLE: She’s such a pro. She’s so prepared. It is very easy to engage, very quickly and at a quite deep level, with actors that prepare like that. She’s gifted, that goes without saying. I enjoyed very much, and I am really looking forward to doing more work her, as well. I just got a sense that we’ll probably develop something quite special. I don’t know. That’s just a guess, at this stage, but my sense is that we can develop some quite interesting chemistry, based on what I have already done with her. I have great respect for her.
NOBLE: What’s amazing to me about it is that it feels like the perfect combination of all the favorite genres. It’s fantasy, it’s science-fiction, it’s horror, it’s historical, and it’s also almost a procedural. The writers have linked them all together incredibly cleverly, and the look of the show is fantastic. They’ve managed to do something with alchemy and make it all work, and it seems to be working really wonderfully, at this stage.
Will your character be in quite a few of the upcoming episodes?
NOBLE: I’m going to do three more this season. I’ve done one, and I’m going to do three more. And then, I’ll probably be back next year, for quite a lot.
Do you know how much your storyline will be interacting with characters, aside from the few that you’ve been interacting with?
NOBLE: I don’t know that yet. I only know the scripts that I’ve read. As time goes by, it’s highly like that there will be some cross-over, but up to this point, the main work is with Nicole [Beharie] and Tom [Mison].
After being on Fringe for five seasons, do you enjoy doing guest spots on shows like Sleepy Hollow and The Good Wife?
NOBLE: I’m just actually in the process of shooting a guest spot on The Good Wife this week. It’s great to come in and to work with good actors. This time, I am working with Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles. I know them. They are great actors, so that is a joy, in itself. It can be difficult doing guests. The one with Sleepy Hollow is more than a guest. It’s not a one-off where you come and your job there is to serve as a plot device, which is what a lot of guest actors have to do. There is a growth in this one. But sometimes, guest acting can be very difficult. In the past, I’ve found it’s tricky, but not at present. I’ve done a few in Australia this year, and they have been great.
Since you’ve been in a lot of genre shows, is there a specific franchise that you would like to get involved with?
NOBLE: You’ve been reading the rumors about Stars Wars, have you? The big franchise that is going to open up is Star Wars. We know that. That would be a dream, if you got that. I don’t know. It’s not that I wouldn’t certainly consider other things, but Star Wars is the one that appeals to me most.
Sleepy Hollow airs on Monday nights on Fox.