Sleepy Hollow fans, get ready to meet the second First Lady. Michelle Trachtenberg joins Monday’s episode as Abigail Adams—and the role suits her. “My pale skin sort of lends itself to the era,” jokes the actress. But the character is true to life in more ways than one. This Abigail is “as historically accurate as possible, with a little twist. She is trying to catch the big bad evil that is ruining her era and becomes a profiler of sorts.”
Abigail calls on Katrina’s help in the fight. “I would like to say that they’re sort of a Sherlock and Watson combo,” says Trachtenberg. “Abigail Adams, because of her power and her wealth and her outreach in the community, would probably be Sherlock, and she looks to Katrina to aid her in her hypotheses.” Using witchcraft?
“I think when you have an amazing talent like witchcraft, why not use it?” Trachtenberg teases. The actress, who says that her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer trained her not to give too much away, won’t spoil much about the evil they’re chasing, though she will say, “It is a physical being, which is something that you technically have to say when dealing with Sleepy Hollow. It is someone that can travel from then and now, and someone that seemingly is captured and their intentions destroyed, but … evil has a way of magically reappearing.”
And there’s a chance Abigail might do the same. Trachtenberg says it’s “very possible” that her character could return, adding that she and executive producer Len Wiseman have discussed it. “He and his wife are very close friends of mine,” she says, “and that’s actually how this all sort of came to fruition, and how I had started watching the show in its first season. I couldn’t keep on watching every episode, because I live alone, and I have an overactive imagination, and I’m convinced that there are things in the shadows.”
The on-set experience is a lot less shadowy. “I mostly had scenes with Katia [Winter, who plays Katrina],” says Trachtenberg, “and we had a great time. We were mostly laughing. In fact, I was laughing and I sneezed right before a scene, and I popped out a rib from the corset. And it was totally worth it, because I looked great in those gowns. That was definitely the most fun costume to wear. And Tom Mison, who was on set, was just a joy to be around. I wish we had more stuff to do together. And Orlando [Jones]! We didn’t have any scenes together, but he was in the makeup trailer a lot, and made me feel like we had worked together.”
Trachtenberg describes this as her longest hair and makeup process; it took three women to lace her into her corset, but she says she enjoys doing period pieces even more than those set in the present. “It makes you feel like an actual actor, to put on costumes as opposed to just jeans and a t-shirt,” she explains. “And let me tell you, those corsets make you sit in a way in which you have to speak in a certain tone and dialect, because you can’t breathe.”
But don’t think Abigail Adams would let a little thing like breathing stop her in the fight against evil—especially if Trachtenberg can help it. “I always love a strong woman who kicks ass,” she says.
Check out the First Lady’s Sleepy Hollow debut, Monday, January 19, at 9/8C on FOX.