Interview: Rachel Melvin
It’s one thing to join the cast of a series that has already been on the air for three seasons, but it’s another thing to join that cast when one of the lead characters was killed off.
Actor Rachel Melvin faced that situation when she was cast as Alex Norwood in the fourth season of the FOX series Sleepy Hollow.
Born in Chicago, but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, the up and coming actress already has an impressive list of credits. She appeared in over 300 episodes of the long running daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. She’s also appeared in the series Awkward, Bones, Castle and Heroes.
On the big screen, she was recently seen opposite Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber To and has also appeared in the films My Funny Valentine, Bad Fan and Zombeavers.
We sit down with Rachel to talk about joining the cast of Sleepy Hollow, what fans can look forward to in the fourth season and her thoughts on the supernatural.
Pop Culture Principle - Can you tell us what made you decide to sign on for Sleepy Hollow and the character Alex?
Rachel Melvin - I was really attracted to the character Alex because she doesn't fall into any of the traditional female archetypes. She's complex with so many different aspects of her personality that make her a real woman; she's guarded but loyal, smart, strong, and funny - and I love that her funny comes from being sarcastic!
Pop Culture Principle - Did you have any initial discussions with the writers about her backstory and will we learn more about her backstory before the season is over?
Rachel Melvin - You know, not that I recall. Our show runner, Albert Kim, definitely held the door open to have a conversation or ask any questions we might have had about our (new) characters, but the way they described Alex during casting was so clear- it just really resonated with me. I thought, "You know what? I know this person. I know what they're about."
Pop Culture Principle - Can you tell us a little bit about your character Alex and how she fits in the Sleepy Hollow universe?
Rachel Melvin - Alex has the mind of an engineer. She's interested in learning how things work and understanding the reason they do. And, because of her knowledge in that regard, she's able to help the team with anything machine or weapon related which, definitely comes in handy when fighting the supernatural.
Pop Culture Principle - Initially, Alex seemed very skeptical of the supernatural and Ichabod Crane? Why was that and how has her thinking changed over the season?
Rachel Melvin - Well, Alex is guarded so, it's natural for her to be skeptical. But, she's also got that engineer mind of hers that needs proof before committing to any sort of belief. In the case of Ichabod and the supernatural, the idea of both is ridiculous to her until she starts to see things with her own eyes and experience them for herself. It's still a bit of a challenge for her however, because, although it's proven to be real, she doesn't understand how it physically can be. She can't figure it out mathematically, so to speak, and that drives her a little nuts.
Pop Culture Principle - Alex is really good with weapons and machines. Did you have to do any preparation for this aspect of this character?
Rachel Melvin - Not really. Growing up, my dad was always teaching my and sister me about our cars and power tools. He never wanted us to have to worry or rely on someone to get us out of a jam if there was a way for us to get out of it ourselves. Very feminist of him! Suffice it to say, I know my way around a car enough not to get taken advantage of by mechanics, and I actually started using power tools to build my own furniture a couple years ago. I'm pretty comfortable around/with weapons and tools in general so having to work with them on set was actually rather fun for me.
Pop Culture Principle - We see an interesting relationship developing between Alex and Jenny. Can you talk a little bit about that relationship?
Rachel Melvin - I think Alex and Jenny are cut from the same cloth, which is likely what took them a minute to trust one another. They've both been surprised by what the other knew that they didn't, and that admiration has helped them to grow closer to one another and come together better as a team.
Pop Culture Principle - It seems the only person Alex really let’s her guard down at all is with Jake. Can you talk about their relationship and what it’s like to work with Jerry MacKinnon?
Rachel Melvin - I. Love. Jerry. Right after our table read the first day we were in Georgia I turned to him and said, "This is going to be so much fucking fun," because I could feel the chemistry right away. I knew he was going to be a blast to work with and that we would help each other grow as actors - at least for me. I knew I could learn something from him.
I think Jake and Alex's relationship is based on trust, admiration, and respect. They've been working together for so long that they know one another inside and out. There's a bond between them that's very special and rare.
Pop Culture Principle - Malcolm makes a deal with the Devil. How will this play out the rest of this season?
Rachel Melvin - Not to be a buzzkill but, you'll have to watch and find out.
Pop Culture Principle - What is your opinion personally when it comes to the supernatural?
Rachel Melvin - I believe in ghosts. Without question. I've been haunted more times than I'd like to remember, and the most recent was over Thanksgiving while we were still filming in Georgia. Ghosts are pretty much the extent of my supernatural beliefs...come to think of it, that's paranormal. So, I suppose I don't believe in the Supernatural then.
Pop Culture Principle - Did you have any concerns or reservations joining a show that has not only been on the air for three seasons, but one that killed off a major character?
Rachel Melvin - I did! Mainly because of social media i.e: the fans. People get so married to the characters whose stories they choose to invest in, as they should. It's tough to come on as the newby who is seemingly there to "replace" a fan favorite.
Pop Culture Principle - Do you feel the series has done a good job in paying tribute to Abby Mills?
Rachel Melvin - I do. The writers do a great job of keeping her memory and spirit alive with both the storytelling and in the way the characters speak of her. It sort of feels like she's right there with team witness, helping them, fighting by their side.
Pop Culture Principle - The writers have a great way of mixing humor and pop culture references into the series. Would you agree?
Rachel Melvin - I think the writers on this show kick ass. They have a very challenging job and they do it so well! They're current, funny, poignant at times, and they logically explain our historical past with supernatural reasoning! It's insane to me! I am always asking, how the hell do you all come up with this stuff?! I would die.
Pop Culture Principle - What have you enjoyed most about playing Alex on Sleepy Hollow?
Rachel Melvin - I love her sarcasm. It's my absolute favorite.
Pop Culture Principle - What can fans look forward to with your character and the series as we get near the end of Season 4?
Rachel Melvin - I think they can look forward to seeing a whole new side of every character they haven't yet.
We would like to thank Rachel Melvin for taking time to talk with us. You can catch new episodes of Sleepy Hollow every Friday night at 9/8c only on FOX. If you would like to keep up with all of Rachel's latest news and projects, you can follow her on Twitter @therachelmelvin and visit her official website here.
**Photos courtesy of Tina Rowden/FOX**