Nicole Beharie is revealing more details about her shocking 2016 exit from the Fox series Sleepy Hollow, a departure that sparked an uproar by fans over the exit of the show’s female black lead. Beharie revealed in 2019 that she left the show, in part, because of an auto-immune disease. In recent candid interviews with The San Diego Union-Tribune and The New York Times, Beharie expanded on what she experienced at the time on-set, and how she had been “blacklisted” after her exit.
Beharie’s Detective Abbie Mills character was killed off in the season 3 finale of Sleepy Hollow.
“My costar and I were both sick at the same time but I don’t believe that we were treated equally,” she told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “He was allowed to go back to England for a month [to recover while] I was given Episode 9 to shoot on my own. So I pushed through it and then by the end of that episode I was in urgent care. And all the doctors, including the doctors that the studio was sending, were all confirming, ‘Hey, she can’t work right now.'”
Production shut down for two weeks because of her illness, she told the Times. She also said she had daily checkups “to make sure I was actually sick” — and when doctors told her she needed to rest, Beharie added, “that’s not what they wanted to hear.”
“There’s a lot of pressure in a situation like that where so many people are relying on you alone to get up and get going,” she said. “I feel like it’s taken me the last few years to really see clearly that it wasn’t personal, it’s about the way that these structures are set up. It was very difficult to talk about at the time because I wanted to get back to work. But I was labeled as problematic and blacklisted by some people.”
In the years immediately following her exit, she appeared in much smaller roles in Monsters and Men and Black Mirror.
Beharie had been with the series since its 2013 debut and was central to the show’s central myth arc. At the time of her exit, Fox released a statement calling death of Mills “a very dramatic ending and a bold move for the show,” but one that had been known for its shocking finales,” and that it was “a poignant conclusion” for her character.
“Sometimes I think that some people I was working with didn’t like that I was unwell but loved by the audience, Beharie told The New York Times. “I would think they’d support that. But everyone of color on that show was seen as expendable and eventually let go.”
In the years since, Beharie said she has come to terms with the situation and has learned from it.
“I probably could have been more diplomatic about things in some way,” she told the Times. “Since then, I’ve been making sure that I’m working with the right folks. It’s something that we’ve seen with #MeToo and Time’s Up, where people who’ve asked questions have been discarded. It’s not a new story [but] I never thought it would be my story. Unfortunately it is, but healing takes time and I feel like I’m on the other side of it. I learned a lot. I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, though.”
Beharie is currently starring in Miss Juneteenth.