Oct. 13--Becoming a familiar face in television's revolving door of throwaway characters and shows that get cancelled as quick as they premiere is no easy task. But if you have been an avid viewer of such shows as "Grey's Anatomy," "The OC," "True Blood," "Law and Order: SVU" and "Two and a Half Men" in recent years, chances are you know Nicholas Gonazalez's face.
It's Gonzalez's latest gig, though, that will hit closest to home for most Cape Fear residents: a major guest arc on Fox's locally filmed and highly successful freshman series "Sleepy Hollow."
On the ambitious action/horror/romance/historical series, which was recently renewed for a second season, Gonzalez protects and serves as Det. Luke Morales, who first appeared in the second episode.
"Luke is very inquisitive and curious, as most detectives are," Gonzalez said of his character, who also shares a romantic past with Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), the show's female lead. "I think it is hard for him to watch everything that is going on and knowing that something is afoot, and not be in on it yet."
For those who aren't among the average eight million viewers tuning in to "Sleepy Hollow" each week, that "something" is the escalating struggle between Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a reawakened Revolutionary War soldier, and the coming apocalypse that has delivered a slew of freaky creatures and Crane's legendary foe, the Headless Horseman, to the quiet New England town.
In last Monday's episode, Luke's presence was amplified when a grisly killing took him out of the office to investigate. According to Gonzalez, it is no coincidence that this particular episode is when the detective begins to stretch his legs.
"I came in to shoot episode four and it went really well. They liked me and decided they wanted to introduce Luke Morales a lot earlier," Gonzalez said. "So my short scenes that (aired in episodes two and three) were all added in."
"Sleepy Hollow" isn't the first time the Port City has played host to a production featuring Gonzalez. Last fall, he visited Southeastern North Carolina to film the pilot episode of Lifetime's new series "Witches of East End," which premiered last Sunday. On the show, he once again played a detective. However, during post-production, the cast was retooled and Gonzalez retained only a few seconds of screen time in the final cut of the episode.
Behind-the-scenes tweaks also were to blame for Gonzalez's diminished appearance on ABC's upcoming drama series "Resurrection," which is based on the book "The Returned" by University of North Carolina Wilmington alum Jason Mott. Thanks to a decreased episode order from the network, Gonzalez's character will only appear in the pilot of that series if, as he wearily puts it, "I'm still in it."
But for Gonzalez, losing out on shows like "Witches" and "Resurrection" made him available for when the right project came along. And so far, "Sleepy Hollow" and Wilmington seem to be the perfect fit for him.
"I love Wilmington, and every time I come back, I get the chance to explore more and more," said Gonzalez, who mentioned Manna and Roko as two of his favorite haunts.
Gonzalez was quick to emphasize that the cast and crew have made his time in Wilmington an "amazing experience" that rivals even the three years he spent as a lead actor on Showtime's boxing drama "Resurrection Blvd."
"The cast and crew here just get along so well. I genuinely enjoy seeing these people every day," he said. "I look forward to coming to work, even for those early calls and long days. I don't seem to mind it like I used to."
When it comes to "Sleepy Hollow" itself, which has gained praise for its outlandish but entertaining story lines, Gonzalez said he is just as eager as viewers to see what happens next.
"My part just keeps growing as Luke gets more and more in on the action," said Gonzalez, who credits the show's distinct tone to the writers' ability to blend high-brow humor with dark, apocalyptic intensity. "It is a very interesting show because you can get killed and it still doesn't mean you are out of the show."
As for own Luke's future, Gonzalez says he will definitely be around for more episodes. Beyond that, however, it all depends on whether or not Det. Morales can keep his head.
Hunter Ingram: 343-2327
On Twitter: @WilmonFilm
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