Tonight is the night that Bates Motel opens back up for business. First made famous in Alfred Hitchcock's classic film Psycho, this new series will show viewers how Norman Bates came to be the person we meet in Psycho.
New new series, which premieres tonight on A&E at 10 p.m., stars Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as her son Norman. Farmiga sees the series as a "wacky love story" and says that it tells the tale of what happens to the Bates after they move to a new town following the death of Mr. Bates.
The two stars sat down with the Hollywood Reporter recently to talk about the new series. Here are some highlights from that interview (which can be read in complete form here).
THR: Had you seen Psycho before you signed on to Bates? What drew you to the script?
Farmiga: Piggybacking off of Psycho, we know it ends badly. The only thing we know about Norma is through the warped psyche of Norman Bates. The idea of creating who that woman was was really appealing to me. I boiled it down to simply being an extraordinary love story that goes awry. I don't know if the producers will ever get there in the show or what the plan is if you'll see that; these are the very challenging teenage years. To me, it read like the most beautiful, wacky love story between a mother and her son. That simple premise is what intrigued me. It's a dynamic relationship between mothers and sons. A woman through her sensibilities and the kind of nurturing she does shapes the man he will become. To see how such a loving, intimate relationship -- they're best friends -- that umbilical cord is still attached is fascinating.
Highmore:I had seen Psycho but none of the sequels. The question that's left unanswered in Psycho that Bates Motel attempts to answer is what made Norman Bates psycho? That was the intrigue for me. It's such an iconic character -- where did it all come from? It's that balance of all that debate between nature vs. nurture. Was Norman Bates always destined to become that serial killer or is it something that is brought upon him by him circumstances and his overbearing mother and this dodgy new town that they move to? Would we be slightly different if we'd have had his upbringing? Would we be slightly crazy? We all go a little mad sometimes.
THR: Norman is pulled in so many directions -- a new group of friends at school, girls, his mother and his half-brother. Where do find the balance between the good in Norman and his dark side bubbling under the surface?
Highmore: Hopefully people empathize with Norman and root for him, even though we know how he ends up. There's still this false sense of hope that he might change and manage to pull through and surprise us all -- even though he won't (laughs). He is a nice guy who just has a mad side to him that's unfortunate and awful, but there's two sides to his personality. It's developed further and that difference is made clearer as the show goes on.
THR: Are there any elements of Hitchcock that you've brought to your roles?
Farmiga: There's always elements to the Hitchcock blond -- this cool cucumber but when there's this heated animal side come out to her when she's put in danger or distress. There's a lot of that in Norma and certainly the Swiss blond, there's a little hat tip to that, too. I took more inspiration from other sources of literature since there wasn't much clue inPsycho for who this woman is. There's the image that morphs from Anthony Perkins' face to the skeletal Norma with the wig and I might have stolen that updo in episode five or six (laughs). Other than that, I took my inspiration more from literary sources like Hedda Gabler and Nora from A Doll's House.
Highmore: Hopefully there will be a few mannerisms that people will pick up on. That's the aim, to do it in a way that's subtle and doesn't detract from this new story that we're starting to create. For fans of Psycho, there's something that will remind them of where it all began.