While Johnny Depp was Burton's first choice for the role of Ichabod Crane, Paramount required him to consider Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson and Daniel Day-Lewis. Depp was cast in July 1998 for his third collaboration with Burton. The actor wanted Ichabod to parallel Irving's description of the character in the short story. This included a long prosthetic snipe nose, huge ears, and elongated fingers. Paramount turned down his suggestions, and after Depp read Tom Stoppard's rewrite of the script, he was inspired to take the character even further. "I always thought of Ichabod as a very delicate, fragile person who was maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side, like a frightened little girl," Depp explained.
Depp modeled Ichabod's detective personality from Basil Rathbone in the 1939 Sherlock Holmes film series. He also studied Roddy McDowall's acting for additional influence. Burton added that "the idea was to try and find an elegance in action of the kind that Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing or Vincent Price had." Christina Ricci, who worked with producer Scott Rudin on The Addams Family, was cast as Katrina Van Tassel. Sleepy Hollow also reunited Burton with Jeffrey Jones (from Beetlejuice and Ed Wood) as Reverent Steenwyck, Christopher Walken (Max Schreck in Batman Returns) as the Hessian Horseman, Martin Landau (Ed Wood) in a cameo role, and Hammer veteran Michael Gough (Alfred in Burton's Batman films), whom Burton tempted out of retirement. The Hammer influence was further confirmed by the casting of Christopher Lee in a small cameo.
The cast was excellent, and Johnny Depp, despite his good looks, is more than believable as the mousy Ichabod Crane. The movie is a must for viewing during Halloween, the fall, or any gloomy Saturday night when you want to see a good movie. Some of Tim Burton's movies go over the top, but Sleepy Hollow is nearly perfect. While Depp is definitely the star of the film, watch out for the great Christopher Walken who nearly steals the movie away without ever uttering a word. I've said too much already, I wouldn't want you to take off my head!
MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10