In the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock horror film Psycho, we were introduced to Norman Bates and is murderous ways. What the new A&E series The Bates Motel wants to do is provide some insight into just what would make a loving son keep his mummified mom sitting around the house while he killed motel guests.
Bates Motel tells the story of the young Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), a bright, sensitive teenager who after his father’s death moves to a dilapidated motel on the coast — with his smothering mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga).
What attracted Highmore to the project?
“You’re trying to discover what goes on inside their minds, what makes these characters tick and what side of the line does Norman and Norma’s intimate relationship fall? And I liked the way that things are kind of suggested and hinted at as opposed to being too explicit.”
Freddie talked to Vulture about the comparisons of the show to Twin Peaks. He said, “I can see the comparison. If you drove through White Pine Bay on a nice day, you’d think it was a lovely town. “Such nice people! Isn’t it pretty?” But once you’ve moved in you realize there’s a whole other side to it. Yeah. It’s set up a bit with that notebook Norman finds in the pilot. Like, Hang on, maybe this town isn’t as pleasant as it seems. And you’ll see that. Norman will have his own life to some extent. He goes to school. Norma isn’t there babysitting him every day. He’s let loose. And Norma similarly will develop relationships with characters Norman doesn’t meet.”
Farmiga didn’t have a lot to use in creating her character because Norma was dead in the original film. She’s basing a lot of her performance on how Norman turns out and what his mother must have done to make him that way.
“I got into this wanting to defend who that woman was. I was sent the first three episodes, and she was just such a beautiful portrait of valiant maternity to me. The story is just a beautiful love letter between a mother and her son, and that’s how I perceive the character,” says Farmiga. “That’s how I approach it.”
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