There aren’t many new shows that can impress audiences to the degree that Bates Motel has. It’s already built a rabid fan base largely due to the popularity of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Psycho. With a fresh cast and a modern spin, Bates Motel has everyone’s attention, especially the fans at San Diego Comic-Con.
At today’s panel, fans saw the Bates Motel cast including Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Theriot, Olivia Cooke and Nestor Carbonell. They were accompanied by writers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin. Almost everyone hopped into their seats, everyone except for Highmore. Where was he? At first we were all confused, thinking that he missed the event. After what appeared to be an uncomfortable exchange between the moderator and Cuse, they rolled this mysterious footage
Once that was shown it was time to get down to business. First, they asked Farmiga about playing a character who has to deal with a child with a mental illness:
Vera Farmiga: The first part of the process was to go to the Google search window of my laptop and type in parents of psychopaths. There’s a well spring of information, so many testimoties, and that’s where my compassion grew for the character. I really do approach Norma, and I chose to see her in the light of the way she’s being strong and loving and nurturing. She’s incredibly flawed, yes, she comes with a really warped history and a lot of pain that she’s damning up but I think for me, the approach for her, she’s a mother of a child with mental issues and there’s no way that a parent can say my child has a mental illness without their spirit imploding. To me I always approach Norma with a great sense of compassion and reverence.
What should we expect from the second season? They left Norman in an interesting situation. How will he gradually transform or devolve into the psychopath we all know?
Freddie Highmore: It really does set things up nicely for season 2. I think we see more of a transition for Norman, not only norman his transition towards being psycho but his awareness…
Then there’s the question of Norman’s brother Dylan (Theriot). The actor spoke about his character’s fate which he sweats about every time he gets a new script:
Max Theriot: As Norman’s brother I’m rooting for whatever keeps me alive at this point, and I don’t know what’s going to make him turn. Obviously, it’s kind of something I want to see explored but at the same time I’m a little bit nervous about it because of [Norman].
Normal’s affections are for the beautiful Emma (Cooke), whose heart has been stolen by Dylan. Will their relationship blossom?
Olivia Cooke: I like where it is right now. I think to pursue anymore… I can’t keep getting rejected all the time. I can’t just keep trying to kiss you when you’re not responding. I think it’s nice the way it is, what could be and the what if is nicer than if it actually happened.
Then there’s Carbonell’s sheriff who’s not as clean cut as his profession would lead him to be…
Nestor Carbonell: He’s a guy who pretty much has his own way with dealing with the law. The interesting thing about the first season you think in the one hand Norman goes into this town with Norma and you think they’re the kooky ones but then you find out more about the characters… When Carlton says you want to play an ageless sheriff I said why not. It’s a guy with his own moral code.
Cuse explained the balance between the original Psycho lore and the new material:
Carlton Cuse: You wouldn’t want to see Norman Bates check into a split-level ranch. We wanted to keep the house and the motel, but doing it as a prequel it kind of liberated us to do our own story. We didn’t think it was going to be interesting retelling something we couldn’t do as well as Alfred Hitchcock. Taking these characters and putting it in this modern setting, it gave us the liberty to tell our own story. The way which Norman delolves and what happens between his mother, his brother, his potential future girlfriend, these things are all yet to be written and we will do our own version of that story and for us that’s really exciting. It was a great opportunity to take these iconic characters and reimagine them in a new way. We were fortunate to take this incredible cast. We’re taking this story that people have an idea, know it’s not going to end well but the path is super fun for us.
He also revealed a little more about the upcoming season:
Carlton Cuse: We made reference to Norma’s brother last season and that character might show up this season which we think would be pretty interesting. There’s some new romance for Norman and Norma this year. not with each other, okay? …Vera [Farmiga] did pitch a story to us that appears in episode. 2. I don’t want to spoil what it is but it’s really great and we’re really invited to do it. I’ll give you a one-word description; sandman.
Highmore also spoke up about how he deals with Norman’s blackouts:
Freddie Highmore: You just think about what the character ‘s thinking and pretend. I just pretend. It was fun working with Vera on developing, I think in episode seven, the voice of mother speaking through Norman, so he kind of repeats her word and the similar cadence so that’s a form of preparation. When I’m there, I do the preparation beforehand then go on set and see what happens. I never feel pressure to get to a certain emotional moment or beat.
How long will the show last? Cuse briefly touched on how many seasons we might get out of it:
Carlton Cuse:Bates Motel is a story with a beginning, middle and end. We want to tell the whole artc of that story. Hopefully by the end of the season we’ll have a pretty good idae of how long the story should last. We’re talking aouut that right now. I think people do want to get to the end of the story. It’s not an endless journey. I don’t think we’re doing 14 years of Bates Motel. Our idea is to tell the story as best as wel can in the right amount of time. The same thing was true on Lost. Around the third season of the show we figured out how much time we needed for that show. We’re getting in a place where we’ll know exactly how soon the show will last.
How many seasons do you want Bates Motel to last?