Creating A Legend - Sleepy Hollow

Tim Burton: we love him. Starburst visits the set of his new movie Sleepy Hollow and meets the great man himself.
By Jason Caro

selected from Starburst #255

Author Washington Irving’s American classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a dark, dream-like fable. It tells of a horrifying headless horseman who hacks his way through the inhabitants of the titular upstate New York town, and the unusual hero who tries to put a stop to this reign of terror without losing his head.

One of the eeriest graveyards you'll ever see... in Sleepy HollowFilled with spooky atmosphere and fairy-tale romance, it’s unthinkable that anybody other than Tim Burton could be behind the camera on Paramount’s new screen version.

Originally involved in the on-off-on again Superman movie, the director found himself drawn to this seemingly tailor-made project.

“I had been working on something for like a year and didn’t know what I was gonna do", says Burton. "They sent me the script. I just really liked it. Andy Walker (Seven’s Andrew Kevin Walker) did a really strong script. I was more familiar with the Disney cartoon, their actual story. But it’s funny, in America most kids never read the story but they know the story of the headless horseman.”

When it came to recreating the town of Sleepy Hollow – a real place in upstate New York – circa 1799, the director chose to film in England. Why so?

“Strangely enough, New York is such a great city and has so many great artists (but) in terms of film artists there’s not the resources there. Here, there’s so many great people and artists that way and then we were able to find some place that had the feeling of it. If we’d done it in America, I don’t think we’d have worked with some of these guys like Michael Gambon and Michael Gough, you know, Richard Griffiths. It just feels like a good mix.”

A production crew of 80 toiled for four months in Lime Tree Valley, a private estate about an hour’s drive North of London, on the livery stable, church, blacksmiths, general store, bank and half a dozen other buildings. And the creepiest graveyard you’ve ever seen.

“It’s like going into a weird fantasy land, it’s like a Dutch recreation. You go to this little town and people are dressed like this, churning butter and dipping candles like wax figures and it’s just like this weird culture... "

Online feature:
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 here
If you like what Tim Burton does half as much as we do, have you seen our previous features in these back issues of Starburst?
Exclusive 2-part interview on Batman in Starburst #133 & #134 (1989), plus more Batman coverage in #132, #135
Exclusive interview on Edward Scissorhands in Starburst #155 (1991): – 10 pages plus cover and poster
2-part interview on Batman Returns in Starburst #169, 4 pages plus poster & #170 – currently out of stock, sorry (1992)
interview on Mars Attacks in Starburst #224 (1997)
Please note: links are to details of each issue. Features are not necessarily on-line

All Sleepy Hollow images © Paramount. Feature © Visual Imagination 1999. Not for reproduction
More from this interview here >>>
Read the full on-set Sleepy Hollow feature (six photo-packed pages) when you get Starburst 255
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