Jussie Smollett And Yazz Talk Empire’s Theme Of Family And Love

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(PCM) Last nights season one finale of the hit FOX drama “Empire” was nothing short of explosive. The two-hour finale gave us so many game-changing moments that we don’t even know where to begin. Some relationships were repaired, others were destroyed and the one particular catfight that was inevitably going to occur finally went down.

**Spoiler Alert** Plot details about the season finale are mentioned below

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The first major reveal of the finale occurred when we learned that Lucious was actually misdiagnosed and is no longer suffering from ALS. However, after taking some new medications for his new far more treatable illness he hallucinates in bed and confesses to the death of Bunky just as Cookie enters the room.

Upon hearing his horrific confession, Cookie is understandably distraught and nearly decides to take Lucious’ life into her own hands and attempts to smother him with a pillow. Lucious later sends out a warning to Cookie in the form of gifting her with a gift-wrapped pillow, when he is handing out apology presents to his family.

Hakeem decides to court his father’s rival record label Creedmore and even releases a new rap song in which he publicly slams Luscious and sleeps with his father’s ex-Anika. Jamal has mended his relationship with Lucious  and receives the key to become his father’s successor in taking over Empire. We also see Jamal, in an attempt to prove himself to his father, dangle Creedmore record executive Beretti over a balcony to get him to agree to sign over Lucious’s original demos back over to Empire. Definitely a major change in character.

Cookie is cut out of the company after Lucious learns about her relations with security guard Malcom and turns Jamal against her after he shows him footage of Cookie attempting to smother him with the pillow. Hakeem and Andre join together in an attempt to forge a hostile takeover and regain control of Empire from Lucious and Jamal. They enlist the help of sworn enemies Cookie and Anika and of course a major catfight reminiscent of something out of Dallas in the 1980’s ensues between the two before they begrudging agree to work together to bring down Lucious.

Vernon is accidentally killed when he visits Andre in an attempt to work together when things get out of hand and we learn that Andre’s wife Rhonda is now pregnant. Just as Lucious is about to hit the stage for the tribute concert, he reveals to Jamal that his real name is Dwight Walker and is then promptly arrested for his involvement in the murder of Bunky. As he marched out of the venue in handcuffs he immediately thinks that Cookie sold him out, but as he is marched past both Hakeem and Andre he sees the true culprits who sold him out. The episode concludes with Lucious behind bars with the haunting line “The day will come when Lucious Lyon will return. Game time, b**ches.”

We were recently able to catch up with Empire’s Jussie Smollett (Jamal Lyon) and Yazz (Hakeem Lyon) to talk about the epic finale and what will be in store for season two.

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On their wonderful on-screen chemistry and the way in which their relationship has evolved throughout the season.

Yazz: “As you’ve seen throughout the season, the brothers, they’re clashing. There is a lot of success going on. They’re making a lot of money and it’s about if they’re going to stick together through the new adventures that are going on in their lives. The season finale is where you get to see that. It’s going to be crazy.

Jussie Smollett: “Yea, and as far as the relationship and the chemistry between both Hakeem and Jamal and, obviously, essentially, myself and Yazz, the thing about Hakeem and Jamal is that they compete and there are other people that really have their hands in the pot of their brotherhood, but at the same time they always find themselves back to each other. They always find their way back to each other somehow.

I think that’s the beautiful thing about them is that families fight; families have issues. Not exactly as many issues as the Lyons family, but, families fight and they have issues and then they come back together at the end of the day and they’re a family. I think that it speaks volumes about brotherhood, the fact that Hakeem is so supportive of Jamal. Jamal is so supportive of Hakeem, but then it leads into our friendship and our brotherhood outside of the work.

I feel like I watch the show sometimes, like when Yazz was performing “Nothing but a Number,” my character was excited, but my character was excited because I was genuinely excited because that was the first time I heard the song and I loved it and he was killing it. There’s that brotherhood and camaraderie that we share. I think that’s what you see.”

On whether or not they are happy and satisfied about where their character ends up after the finale. 

Yazz: “I’m definitely happy about where my character is.”

Jussie: “I’m excited because there’s so much more to come. The dope thing about Season 1 is that there are still questions to be answered in Season 2. You know what I’m saying? I feel like Season 1 was the set up and then Season 2 will be, okay, let’s go back and let’s clean up all of the Lyons’ stuff, if you will. I’m very happy. I’m very excited where Jamal, where his journey has taken him, from beginning to now, and where it’s going to end up going. I’m very excited.”

Yazz: “And we’re excited about Andre. Where he goes, he gets better and better. I feel like his story is real important and it grows and people can learn from his experiences”

On who would be their dream guest stars for Season Two

Jussie: “For me, it’s Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson and Brandy. I really want them just because I want to sing with them.”

Yazz: “For me it’s Madonna, Queen Latifah, and Rihanna.”

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On fan reaction to the series

Yazz: “The fans are amazing.It’s just pandemonium, but it’s a dream come true. We’re working with the greatest, Oscar-nominated, actors and directors, so it’s great. I’m in a great place. Jussie’s in a great place and we’re blessed.”

Jussie: “For me, it’s been a really wonderful experience thus far. Everybody has been really supportive and loving. I just get the most beautiful letters from kids, both homosexual children and heterosexual children, telling me that somehow they relate to Jamal in so many ways and I feel like that’s the – as an artist, we don’t always get these types of roles to come along, that really say something about what you care about, but when they do, you jump at the chance.

I feel like that’s what we all did. I feel like we all, in our own individual ways, fought so hard for these roles because of what it meant and what it said. It’s so entertaining and it’s so glamorous and fantastic, but it also is saying something about where our society is today and that means so much. When I get those letters, I’m a crying fool anyway, because I’m a Cancer, but it’s just really, really emotional and I love it. It’s been wonderful.”

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On working with Snoop Dogg in the finale

Yazz: “It was great to work with Snoop. I can’t tell you what we’re doing, but we had to prepare for our scene for like an hour in his trailer. It was good to vibe out with the legend Snoop Dogg and to get some jewels I can take into life and use and to apply them to my everyday life.”

On what they have both personally taken away from working on the series.

Yazz: “There were many elements, darling, but no, it’s family, family, family. You got to talk to your family. You got to stay grounded. You need to pray a lot. You need to eat healthy. There are a lot of things that tie into it but definitely staying prayed up, and keeping the family involved.”

Jussie: “For me, it’s been like to piggyback on what Yazz was saying, it is, what we took away from it is I think that Yazz and I, separately, in our own ways, are so, so, so dedicated to our families and then what we came away with it, it was another – more additions to our family, if you will, with this cast and the crew. Such incredible people but, also, I feel like what I’ve seen is the stereotypes that society tries to push down our throats actually are not real.

That what we’re seeing is we’re seeing the very people that society wants us to believe would not accept someone like a Jamal, those are the very people that are coming up to me being like, brother, I love you. I respect you. Keep doing what you’re doing. So for that, it’s really – I don’t know if it’s opened my eyes because I feel like my eyes saw that already, but I feel like what it did is that it killed that cycle that started to feed itself of, that there are really, really genuine and good, honest, respectful, and loving people in the world. So, I really love it. That’s why I love the viewers so much, because that’s what they show every single day.”

On what they hope that viewers will take away from the show

Jussie: “Love.  Just love.”

Yazz: “Family. It’s love and family conflict in situations. It’s a family show, so you get to experience family situations that you can learn from in your household. Stuff that Hakeem does, idiotic stuff he does, you would teach your son, like, that’s going to happen you if you keep going that route. It’s great. The fans keep watching each week and it’s loving.

Nobody’s perfect and you’ll get that on the season finale. Everybody is an enemy. Everybody is a villain. Nobody is safe in Empire.”

On their human activist work

Jussie: “My mom didn’t even really give us a choice growing up. Look, we had a choice what sports we played. We had a choice in what music we listened to. We had a choice in the careers that we chose. We did not have a choice in being activists because that was the one thing that she said, if you do nothing in your life, you’ve got to give back. So, what you do is you’ve got to collect your own stuff so that you can properly give back.

But it’s just who we are. It’s literally like, it’s the thing that feeds me the most. If I didn’t do it, then I would feel empty. But I talk to the young youth in the city, I talk to young LGBT youth. I talk to young women with babies that have been raped or have suffered through domestic violence and have gotten out of it. That’s what I do, you know what I’m saying? So, as far as, has it changed me? No. It’s just further cemented who I am in my own life and the work that I know that I’m here, put on this earth, to do.”

Yazz: “And to piggyback a little bit off what he said, I had a close friend get killed from violence in the streets and, from 16 years old, I went out talking to the kids, because that really touched me internally, that somebody that got killed was that close to me. I went out, at 16 years old, me and my mom would pack up a Camry and drive to Michigan, use our own money, and we weren’t really that fortunate, and we would go out to these schools and I would perform.

I would talk to the kids and give them a little bit of inspiration because I was really hurt from that situation and from there, I kind of built a fan base through talking to the kids and letting them know, this is possible. You’ve just got to follow your dreams. If I’m here on stage from Philadelphia, you can be just like me. I did that since I was 16 years old and from there it just – I got Empire.”

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Producer Of The Simpsons Sam Simon Dead At Age 59

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(PCM) We are deeply saddened to report on the passing of “The Simpsons” producer Sam Simon, who tragically lost his battle with colon cancer at the age of 59.

Simon has earned nine Emmy awards for his work on the series, which is the longest running primetime series in television history. Simon was one of the original developers for “The Simpsons” and worked on the series until his departure in 1993. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of 2013.

In addition to “The Simpsons” Simon has worked as a showrunner for the sitcom “Taxi” and as a writer for both “Cheers” and “The Drew Carey Show”. He is also credited as being the creative force behind comedian George Carlin’s FOX TV series and more recently a consultant for Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management” on FX.

Simon was also a very strong advocate for animal rights. Executive producer of “The Simpsons” Al Jean said in a statement “He was a genius and a great humanitarian in ways public and private. I personally owe him more than can be repaid, but I will do my best to help every animal I can in his memory”.

Simon founded the Sam Simon Foundation that rescues stray animals and also worked very closely with PETA, Save The Children, Mercy For Animals and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Sam Simon during this incredibly difficult time.

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Why Cookie Lyons Is One Of The Best Characters On TV

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(PCM) It is no secret that we are fans of the new smash-hit FOX television series “Empire” and we could easily create a laundry list of reason why we love the show, but definitely at the top of that list would be the cut-throat, snarky, yet vulnerable character of Cookie Lyons, exceptionally portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson.

We just adore the character and find ourselves tuning in week after week just to see what in the heck she is going to say or do next. She is TV’s newest most loveable diva with a capital D. Whether it was planned or not, Cookie steals the show and she has certainly stolen our hearts as well.

If you have been following the Lee Daniel’s produced and Timbaland-scored series, that you are aware that Cookie spent some time behind bars taking the hit for rap artist turned record label executive Lucious Lyon (her then husband at the time). It was Cookie’s money that initially funded Empire and now that she has been released from prison, she has set on a course for taking back what she believes is rightfully hers.

The series has rightfully been compared to Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, however many critics have been complaining that the show’s dialogue has been poorly written, however we beg to differ, as the one-liners that fly out of Cookie’s mouth every week are more than enough to keep us hooked. As the story-line begins to pick up steam, we see that Cookie was way more than just Lucious’ wife, she pretty much the brains and the brawn behind the creation of his entire music career.

The sacrifice she made by spending 17 years in prison was just heartbreaking and watching her rise from the ashes and make her triumphant comeback is certainly the thread that will resonate the most with viewers as we delve deeper into this series. Of course there will be setbacks along the way, especially when watching her try to reconnect with her children, as gay singer/songwriter Jamal show acceptance and hardcore rap artist Hakeem won’t even giver her the time of day.

In the course of just a few episodes we have seen so many different sides to this character and we feel like we have only begun to scratch the surface. We have seen her business savvy side, her bravery in defending her gay son Jamal when he was being abused as young child by Lucious, her impeccable sense of style, the love and loyalty she has for her children, her ability to throw shade like no other, and of course the fearless way that she confronts her adversaries.

Let’s hope that Empire’s Cookie never crumbles (although she may have come close a few times) and we certainly can’t wait to see what’s to come!

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New Television Shows You Should Be Watching (But Probably Aren’t)

(PCM) We always get incredibly excited during the start of the new year, as this is the time when many of the networks begin rolling out their previews for everything we can expect to grace of TV screens for the coming year.

From the looks of things, 2015 is well on its’ way to becoming another great year for television and there are several new shows that have certainly grabbed our attention.

1. FOX’s Empire 

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Wednesdays at 9/8c
After watching an early screener of the premiere we were hooked and this series appears to be gaining steam with each and every following episode.

From Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, Emmy Award winner Danny Strong, and Brian Grazer, Empire is a drama about a family dynasty, set within a world of music, glamour, danger and power. Featuring music by prolific producer Timbaland, the series stars Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson

2. Syfy’s 12 Monkeys 

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Fridays at 9/8c

Based upon the highly acclaimed 1995 Bruce Willis film by the same name, 12 Monkeys is an apocalyptic tale about a deadly virus that has been unleashed by a group known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

The new series is a gripping and edge of your seat thriller as we follow the journey of James Cole, brilliantly portrayed by actor Aaron Stanford on his quest to both save the world and find himself some sort of redemption for things he has done in his past.

3. ABC’s Marvel’s: Agent Carter

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Tuesdays at 8/7c

Despite lackluster ratings, Marvel’s Agent Carter is definitely a show that we find ourselves compelled to tune in and view. The series is set in a very film-noir styled 1946 and explains the origins that we have come to known as S.H.I.E.L.D.

What we love about the series is the way that it is trying in both the Marvel TV and film franchises, as Peggy Carter aka. Agent Carter was once the love interest of Steve Rogers aka. Captain America. Carter believes that Rogers perished in a plane crash and while she was only featured briefly in the Captain America film, the new seven episode series truly gives her a rightful time to shine.

4. FOX’s Backstrom 

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Thursdays at 9/8c

Always one of our favorites during his time on “The Office”, actor Rainn Wilson stars as Backstrom, as special-crimes detective who has a special knack for solving mysterious murders.

In the series Backstrom hilariously just about hates everything, which brings a certain level of humor to the tense crime scene situations. We are hoping that Backstrom will get picked up for a second season, as we are sure that over time more details of his backstory and just how he became the way he is will surely be revealed.

5. HBO’s Togetherness

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Sundays at 9:30/8:30c

The new HBO comedy from brothers Jay and Mark Duplass is both smart and wickedly funny. The series focuses on the life of a long-time couple with two children who have their world tuned upside down when her sister and his best friend are forced to move in with them as well.

The series shows that the grass is not always greener on the other side of scenario and everyone is hilariously pushed to their limits in a variety of creative ways.

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Sammy Hagar Says “I Have Finally Made It” After Appearing On The Simpsons

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(PCM) A true renaissance man, rocker Sammy Hagar has just about done it all! He has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, enjoyed the success of several number one albums, taken home Grammy awards, had a New York Times best-selling book, owns 10 restaurants and two spirit companies and of course graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine! Is there anything that this man hasn’t accomplished?

Now, Hagar can add the honor of being featured in a episode of The Simpsons to his list of career accomplishments. Hagar played himself in the recent episode titled “Covercraft” where Homer decides to take up the bass guitar and forms a cover band with some of the other dads in town, but their modest early success is soon overwhelmed by the breakout potential of their most unlikely star, Apu.

We had a chance to catch up with Sammy Hagar to discuss The Simpson, his holiday plans which include a free New Year’s Eve show at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Los Cabos, Mexico and more!

Hagar is a fairly active social media user, so we were curious about this thoughts on the fan reaction from this appearance on The Simpsons. He says “I really enjoy my fans’ comments when I do different kind of things. My fans are used to me being a rock star, probably a couple other things, but it’s really fun to do stuff like this and see how they respond because some people really like it and some people don’t. But you learn from what your fans like and you say either I like doing this, so I’ll keep doing it, or fans don’t like it, so I won’t do it anymore, but I’m sure they’re going to love this. I’ve seen it; it’s pretty funny.”

Many celebrities have made guest appearances on The Simpsons over the years and it is looked at as quite an honor. Hagar tells us what was going through his mind when he was asked to be on the show, saying “I liked the list of people that have done it before me and I was honored just starting right there. It’s like something new, something different. I’ve only done a few voiceover things in my life and I really like doing it. I’m kind of like I like being a little bit of a character myself, you know what I mean? Like I get to overdo it and every time I overdo it around the house, I get criticism from my kids and stuff, so it’s really nice to be able to overdo it and get away with it.”

Hagar reveals that what he enjoyed the most about the experience of being on The Simpsons was that “it was something different for me. Like I’ve been a character on some various cartoon shows or stuff or in magazines or stuff, but I never got to do my own voice. They usually made up my own voice or they made up my voice and so I think getting to experiment with my own personality, I know it sounds like, this sounds deeper than probably it may seem like it was, but for me it was fun with the director saying, “Oh, now try something a little more high energy; now try something like you’re laid back like you’re high or something” and try this and try that, so it kind of fun to experiment with my own personality I got to tell you. And when I heard it back when I finally I saw the episode, they let me see it ahead of time and I heard my voice, I thought that wasn’t me, you know what I mean? So it was kind of cool just jumping out of character.”

We also wanted to know how he liked seeing the cartoon version of himself, as well as just who his favorite Simpsons character is, Hagar tells us “You know a Simpson is a Simpson. I don’t care who you are if they make you look like a Simpson, I don’t think anyone can relate to themselves being a Simpson. When I saw it, I went, whoa, hey, hold on here, it’s pretty funny. But no, like I said, I can’t relate too much to the character except you know they got my tennis shoes really right; and they got my flowered shirt on, my kind of semi-Hawaiian lifestyle look, but no, I couldn’t relate to the body and face look.”

He jokingly adds “Sammy Hagar, he’s my new favorite character.”

Hagar is also happy to discuss his upcoming free concert at his Cabo Wabo Cantina is Los Cabos, Mexico saying “I go to Cabo quite often. I play down there 20, 30 times a year unannounced and stuff, so we’re going to do a New Years Eve thing, because New Years Eve is such a big deal in Cabo, so many people come down for it. And I thought it’d be a good opportunity, we have a big donation box we’re going to put up at every entrance in the Cabo Wabo and I always play for free and unannounced usually, but we’re going to announce it and we’re going to take donations for a great children’s charity down there that I’ve been supporting since the beginning of time. But we’re going to kick it up a little bit, so it’s a good opportunity to try to help directly to some of the kids down there and a good time of the year to do it, too.”

As many know, Cabo recently got hit pretty hard by a recent hurricane. Hagar comments “Yes, like really hard. This has happened many, many times. I’ve been doing my birthday bash down there for 25 years and we’ve had about 10 occasions in October, which is kind of the end of hurricane season, where we got hit pretty hard, but we’ve always been able to go through with the birthday bash. This was the first one that was so bad that I couldn’t do the birthday bash. The hotels were beat up; the town really got hurt, so we moved it to Las Vegas and did it, had to honor all those people that had planned their lives around it, so this is my first trip down since all that, but not because I was afraid to go or something.

I’ve been really busy and I’m going to go down there next month and spend a lot of time down there and assess all the damage, but the Cantina has done so much for the community over the years. Every time this happens, we’ve gone so far as to I’ve played charged at the door, next they went and bought food and supplies and water and stuff and diapers and went down to the area that got hit the worst where was an [indiscernible] one year that got washed out where people had moved into it that hadn’t had water run for like ten year. And then all of a sudden a big flood came though there, went directly down there with all 130 of our employees and handed out everything we had until we had nothing left, so we’ve done stuff like that every time.

But it’s gotten so big it’s like beyond being able to do those kinds of things and now it’s a government thing and the government has done a great job, but the place is rebuilt like crazy. They’ve done an amazing job of getting that place back together and some of my friends have already been down there and said it’s almost brand new again; and it’ll be better because the town always needs to get rebuilt every now and then and they probably wouldn’t have rebuilt it unless they had to. So now they had to, so the place is going to look fantastic by the first of the year, I’m really excited.”

We also asked Hagar to tell us what continues to keep him excited about recording and playing music. He says “I love to do it. If I don’t write a song every now and then, I get really frustrated. I sit down every morning before I did this interview I was sitting down playing my guitar. That’s what I do. I get up in the morning and have a little coffee, a little breakfast, I sit down play some guitar and go check my messages and so forth, but it’s part of my daily routine. And when I pick up a guitar every time, there’s a something towards a song, maybe not a whole song, but a riff or a melody or a little lick and I just save those things and if I don’t get to them, I get frustrated. I start thinking I got do this, I got to do this and that’s what drives me. It’s strictly the love of creativity.

And all my restaurants and my rum business and all those kinds of things that I do outside of music kind of satisfy that a little bit, but when you’re a creative person, you cannot turn it off. And I jump up in the middle of the night mad going damn it I can’t sleep because I got this thing I got to go write it down. I pick up my tape recorder and I sing into it and I’m that driven and hopefully always will be.”

When asked if there was anything that Hagar was surprised to learn about himself from experience on The Simpsons he replied “Yes, honestly I was surprised that I was so easily adaptable to different parts of my own personality. I didn’t know I had that many characters in me. You only got to hear the one that’s on there, but for me the outtakes, maybe someday they’ll do an outtake with me like saying like, “Hey, wow, man, I didn’t know that that’s the way it was” instead of “Hey, man,” so I kind of I really learned that I can do that and it made me want to do voiceovers. I told the guys after I did it that I wanted, I said, hey man, invent a permanent Simpson character for me and I’ll do it. It was fun. I’m telling you it was really, really fun. It’s like playing dress-up, it’s like Halloween on a vocal level.”

Also, with all of his various projects and endeavors were wanted to know if there was anything he would like to try that he hadn’t yet. Hagar reveals “I’ll try about anything, okay? I’m very interested in this stage of my life and career to do things that I’ve never done and this was one of them; and it was fun and it was easy. I was nervous at first, but to be honest with you once I got into it, I was going, man, this is a blast. I could do this all day. As a matter of fact I nailed it much earlier than we stopped. The director on the other end was saying you want to just have some fun, just go for it.

I said, okay, man, and I just started making up characters and things and so I enjoy doing things like that that I haven’t ever done before, so I’m interested in anything like that. I’d love to have a bit part in movie—not like a star trying to carry the movie. I wouldn’t put that on anybody, myself anyway, but I would love to do and try some things like that to where I can be some other character. I’m tired of being Sammy, you know what I mean?”

 

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Halloween Tales From Sleepy Hollow’s Neil Jackson

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(PCM) Just in time for Halloween, is British actor Neil Jackson, talking about a modern take on a classic piece of literature – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Neil Jackson has appeared in the films Quantum of Solace, Alexander, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and Push, and numerous TV series. He has a double bill on the Fox TV Series Sleepy Hollow.

In the modern-day version, Sleepy Hollow’s Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the nation’s founding fathers.

This is the tale of an unsuspecting modern-day Ichabod Crane, who was thrust through time and focuses on a lean, lanky and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt, the town rowdy, to marry 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the beautiful daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer.

Jackson currently plays the characters of Abraham Van Brunt and the Headless Horsemen, who embarked on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow, and this was just the first of many horrors to seep into the town.

Suspending some disbelief and with some camera magic and trickery, some of the characters see him as Van Brunt and some see him as the Headless Horseman. Katrina wears a magic necklace and sees him in his real life.

Since there are two actors involved, Jackson and stunt double Jeremy Owens, it takes hours to get a scene right. Jackson does the seen and then Owens has to do it with the same body language, while the camera cuts back and forth. The two men work well, and train together and have created a tight brotherly bond.

Jackson was an amateur boxing champion, who worked as a personal trainer before becoming an actor, which is fitting for this extremely physical role.

This show goes back to the timeless story of Sleepy Hollow from Washington Irving, one of the most iconic and enduring writers in U.S. History. The story was first published in 1820, along with Irving’s companion piece, Rip Van Winkle.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is among the earliest examples of American fiction with enduring popularity. The original story is set in 1790, (in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is renowned for its ghosts and the haunting atmosphere that pervades the imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors.

The most infamous specter in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman, said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during “some nameless battle” of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.”

Since this is that time of year to talk about All Hollows Eve and things that go bump in the night, this is Jackson’s behind-the-scenes look at Sleepy Hollow.

Q: The Fox television show Sleepy Hollow is a fantastical world of mythology, history, evil and romance – what is it like for you to be in the middle of all of this?

Neil Jackson: It’s a lot of fun to be in the middle of it. As an actor, the role that I play, Abraham Van Brunt, is a really interesting. Ostensively, he is the horse of death; he is the headless horseman. And there are two of us who play this character.

Q: Tell me more about this duel role?

NJ: You have Jeremy Owens, the stuntman, who plays the headless horseman and then I play the headed horseman. When ever you see him with a head, you see Abraham Van Brunt. So he is a bad guy, where it picks up in Season Two, he kidnaps Katrina, who he was engaged to, and the show flashes back to Season One, and he is desperately trying to woo her back and try to make her fall back in love with him. The challenge is this: how can he be the incarnation of evil and at the same time woo a woman and make her fall in love with him? So, it’s an interesting balance finding that fine line as actor.

Q: What do you think the show’s take and your personal take on the supernatural and creatures and monsters and some of what is going on here?

NJ: The show’s take on it is that anything goes. We have every single demon you have heard of and every single spooky story as a kid you have ever heard of as a kid – the golem, the tooth fairy, the pied piper or what ever happens to be around. These are characters that are real in the mythology of the story.

Q: And what is your personal take on it?

NJ: I believe there is something more out there. I don’t necessarily believe in things that go bump in the night, but there is something more out there – whether it be ghosts or latent spirit energy.

Q: Please tell me how do you prepare for your roles as Abraham and the Headless Horseman? I heard you train with your stunt double, and there is a lot of boxing going on.

NJ: There’s a lot of physicality that goes into the character. When we first met him in Season One, he had a long sword fight with Ichabod Crane, so there was a lot of fighting. There’s a lot of stunt training with the stunt double. We are always working on different ways to wield the sword and wield the ax and basically reinventing the wheel each time we do it so it feels like something different every time.

Q: What goes on behind the scenes with a show that can be so dark? Are things going bump in the night or in the afternoon? Is it kind of spooky as you are creating all of this mystery?

NJ: There are quite a few moments where you are doing a show like this where you stop and take a pause. I had a scene the other day where I had just had a big sword fight, a big battle and I had pinned someone against the wall and I’m screaming, ‘I am the horseman of death,’ while I have this wig on and this red coat and there are moments where you think to yourself, ‘I’m a grown adult, and this is how I make my living.’

Q: Please tell me more about this.

NJ: It’s such a wild fantastical world that’s been created by everybody for Sleepy Hollow and as a result we end up having a lot of fun on the set. There’s a fine line between a critical-horror-fantasy show and just being a little bit silly. And I think they skate that line perfectly by making it technically credible and taking it seriously. We have a blast – a great deal of fun while we are working.

Q: What’s scary to you personally?

NJ: Hmmm. I think that the thing that scares me the most is just…the dark. As a kid I was always a little scared of the dark and always that kid who wanted the light in the hallway to be on just because I am a little scared of the unknown. If I can face something it doesn’t seem too scary, but my imagination runs wild, and if I can’t see into the depths of something, then I am imagining every thing is there. The dark has always been something that has spooked me.

Q: Do you have any Halloween plans or preparations this year?

NJ: We have a tradition every Halloween. My girlfriend’s birthday is the 29th, so we book a karaoke room and invite a load of friends who all dress up in Halloween costumes. So we sing karaoke for hours. That’s been our tradition for several years, so we are going to do that again this year.

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Q: What do you think you will dress up as this year? The Headless Horseman – maybe?

NJ: [Laughed]. I wish they would let me borrow the outfit. It’s the perfect outfit. No, I think I am going to go as The Crow this year – I was always a big fan of the movie The Crow.

Q: How much make-up involved in your characters?

NJ: Jeremy who plays the headless horseman has no make-up they put a green hood on his head so they remove it completely. Here is this hulking man with a Kermit the Frog head on it, which is kind of amusing.

Q: And your character of Abraham?

NJ: I have a big wig on. There’s a lot of make-up in the show with all the monsters and creatures in the show. But our characters don’t wear too much make-up.

Q: When you have intense scenes with sword fights, creatures and monsters and all of this going on – how do you decompress after work? Is it difficult to make that transition?

NJ: I don’t find it to be that difficult of a transition. When we are doing a big sword fight, the one thing that I find I need is a nice hot bath and a drink. Your body is just put through the ringer. All of us who do this work put our bodies through a lot. So the way to decompress is a nice hot shower or bath and a cold beer.

Q: That sounds good to me. Do you see a show like Sleepy Hollow spurring young people and older people to read the great material that it was based on?

NJ: That would be amazing if it did. I did go back and I have a book on Washington Irving and I have been reading these stories and they are fantastic. I think if it would spur anyone to read great literature that would be incredible.

Q: So what’s coming up for you work wise other than the show Sleepy Hollow?

NJ: I am also a musician. I am in a band. I had an album released two years ago called Little Things and I am in the process of recording our second album. The first single will be out in time for Christmas; we don’t have a title for that yet. My music is a side project and a passion of mine that I have been fortunate enough to have both side of my creativity tapped into.

Q: Talk about your dream of performing as a young child to the reality of making music and acting on television.

NJ: I think it’s hilarious. I had no aspirations of becoming an actor when I was a kid growing up in Luton in Bedfordshire, [England], because there was nobody in my family and nobody in our friendship circle that was involved in this. I didn’t even know any one who was doing this as an amateur so I didn’t know that it was possible to have a career in the entertainment industry – let alone Hollywood. My path was always sports. So I went off to the university and pursued sports.

Q: Please tell me more.

NJ: So the idea that the boy from this working class town, who used to run around and get into as much trouble as possible, is now living in Hollywood and acting in movies and working with directors that he used to watch and be in awe of and now they know my name, is so surreal. It’s also so humbling and I am so grateful to be a part of it. It is so far removed from my early life. I think if the seven-year-old me could meet the 38-year-old me he was just laugh and truly not believe it.

Q: What’s it like watching Sleepy Hollow with your girlfriend, friends or family members?

NJ: I am a fan of the show. I did one episode of the show last year and at the end of the episode my character was killed and his head was cut off so I thought there is no way they are going to bring me back I watched the show as a fan the rest of Season One. So when they called for Season 2 and said they were going to bring my character back, I was already a fan of the show. So it’s great getting and reading the scripts because I am interested in these characters. Now all my friends and family members are watching as well

Q: What is the appeal of the show to you and your friends and fans – what are they telling you?

NJ: It’s incredibly romantic in the way that it’s set, in my opinion, and then of course you have all of these incredible creatures and monsters and fight sequences. So there is something for everyone.

Sleepy Hollow airs on Fox on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET

The post Halloween Tales From Sleepy Hollow’s Neil Jackson appeared first on TV News.

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