Executive Producer Kerry Ehrin and Freddie Highmore, Noman Bates himself talk season 3 of Bates Motel.
Freddie, how do you get into character because it doesn’t seem like you’re – you have – you have far to go to get there.
Freddie Highmore: It doesn’t seem like I do or it does?
Well, it seems pretty natural.
Freddie Highmore: Well, I mean…
I guess it’s all that practice. I don’t consider myself to be very similar to Norman. I think in – I mean the American actor did obviously one thing and I just try and stay as much as possible sort of on set in Vancouver and off stage as well. And then the rest of it is a character I guess now that’s having done two seasons before this one, you’re more aware of and you can easily slip into.
And this season was more changing him and making him a bit more mature with the self-awareness that he gained at the end of the second season and so perhaps trickier than giving a look or finding out who Norman was in this third season, it was more about discovering in what ways he would change and grow up.
Kerry, do you have anything to add? How you’re creating this character?
Kerry Ehrin: It’s definitely an evolution where Carlton and I began with the character in the first season. It’s a very different person at this point – and a lot of that has to do with self-awareness and also the natural development of teenagers to start seeing their parents as real people as opposed to gods or goddesses in their universe.I think there’s a bit of that in it as well. And also this season very much playing with the game of control between him and Norma and the power struggle which is really delicious.
Now Norman is such an iconic character and horror. And of course Anthony Perkins did such a legendary performance in the role. Now that you’ve been doing the show and the role for three years, how much influence does the original Perkins’ performance have on your performance and how much are you trying to just sort of completely make it your own?
Freddie Highmore: I guess potentially now they are less comparisons that are made to it because people see the Norman on Bates Motel as being his own entity opposed to necessarily precursor to Anthony Perkins’ version. But at the same time I’ve re-watched Psycho before every season and in some ways tried implementing what Anthony Perkins brought to the role especially as the show continues because I’ve always seen that the end of Bates Motel not necessarily as the end of Psycho.But the end of Norman is a lot closer to Anthony Perkins’ version than the boy that we saw at the start. But certainly we, I don’t think any of us feel tied constrainingly to Psycho or to any performance that came before.
Now the house and the motel are also iconic horror images. I know that it’s a new version of it built up in Canada but does working around that atmosphere add to the sort of creepy feeling both as an actor and as a writer.
Freddie Highmore: Yes it does. I think the first time I stepped on the set, it kind of has this weight already behind it when you look up and you see a very similar version of the house and the motel to the one that was in the original. And then over time it seems to become in view with your own memories and events that took place n Bates Motel. Like from the set, for example, leading up, there’s still the blood stain or whatever they used to pretend to be blood from Deputy Shelby’s death in last season.So there are little reminders to us all of how far he’s come.
Kerry Ehrin: There’s definitely a texture to that set that is emotional and you feel it when you’re there. It’s very cool.
Now that Norman knows about Norman’s blackouts, do you think that he’s going to ever let him back out on her own, on his own or is she sort of try and keep more and more control of him even though she’s already been overprotective towards him to start?
Kerry Ehrin: Yes, it’s sort of like any mother. If your child had something wrong with him, especially something you couldn’t control, your instinct would be to literally tie them to your ankle. I mean you would want to be in as close proximity to them at all times as you possibly could be.And then you add to that all the dark undercurrents and suspicions and that a terrifying ordeal for Norma. And yes, her instinct is to keep him as close as possible.
Tony Tellado: Hi guys. It’s a pleasure to talk to you. It’s a, love this version of Bates Motel and the whole Norman Bates mythology here.
Kerry Ehrin: Thank you.
Freddie Highmore: Thank you.
Tony Tellado: I wanted to ask you, there’s a couple new characters coming into the show this season and no spoilers but, you know, especially actor’s like Tracy’s going to be joining for the season. How are they going to kind of stir things up a little bit because the show seems to be really about relationships and it really starts with Norman, his mom and kind of works its way up from there.
Kerry Ehrin: Well one of the really interesting things in structuring this show that Carlton and I have faced since day 1 is weaving together two worlds that don’t necessarily, you wouldn’t think go together. And the, you know, part of that is these dark secrets that exist in White Pine Bay and are told through various peculiar characters that emerge from the society? And this year we have, we have some amazing actors, Ryan Hurst plays such a cool character who’s this kind of bent mountain man who, he does such a brilliant performance.You don’t quite know, he feels threatening but at the same time he seems incredibly, you (die) at certain times and then Dylan does not know what to make of him but he definitely brings some mystery and trouble with him.
And then another really wonderful character is played by Kevin Rahm and this is a very prominent head of a very exclusive, elite hunting club. Very old school high buy-in and he’s just such a great antagonist. He’s a really fun character.
He is a, he’s a bad buy that really likes himself, that enjoys his life and his senses and his body and dresses great. And Kevin Rahm just is so amusing in this role and so great.
And then it also takes a darker turn because he’s also someone from, who grew up with Alex Romero and the storyline reveals a lot about their own history growing up together but also Alex Romero’s history and he’s this great stoic character who we know nothing about. So we get to peel back some layers and look inside, which is really fascinating.
Freddie Highmore: We need to say though, you called him Alex Romero because I don’t think any of us have really referred to him as that on set. Nestor’s like, he’s like Sheriff Romero or we just call him the Sheriff especially in the fifth episode of the season (that Nestor) directed for the first time.
Kerry Ehrin: Yes.
Freddie Highmore: I mean it’s absolutely…
Kerry Ehrin: Amazing.
Freddie Highmore: …amazing. And so, you know, it certainly amuse us just to see him in his sheriff’s outfit, directing away. He was very much the Sherriff/director.And then the other relationship I think to tease in this season is the one between Norman and his fictional version of his mother that he conjures up this persons moments and entices him and repels him various times into or from doing things.
And that’s a really interesting dynamic, the way that Norman not only, I guess Norman starts to struggle with knowing whether he is talking and whether he’s interacting with this fictional version of his mother or the reality.
Tony Tellado: And speaking of Norman, because we really didn’t know his mother. She was already dead in the movie. You guys really I think, and I want your opinion on this, have kind of a wider latitude as far as both of those characters.Because you’ve got Norman so young, we don’t know much about him at that age and you don’t know about his mother. So you might be boxed in in some ways but you also have a lot of freedom in a lot of ways, if you both can comment.
Freddie Highmore: Yes, Carlton and I from the very beginning wanted to tell a story about Norman’s mom that was different than what you hear in the movie because what you hear in the movie is from Norman when he’s completely gone crazy.So, you know, people carry many different versions of their parents inside of them from different memories and different times and, you know, that when you went through with them. And we definitely wanted to broaden out the scope of who this woman was and then, you know, the same thing with Norman.
He’s really in many ways such an endearing person and the concept that someone who had a good heart was trapped in this situation and in this body and in this circumstance was so compelling and, you know, just gave, it opens up so much storytelling that we were always excited about and continue to be excited about.
Tony Tellado: And Freddie, you have a little bit of room too to kind of mold him and kind of do your own version of him a little bit.
Kerry Ehrin: A lot of room.
Freddie Highmore: Yes, of course. Yes. And I think also the contemporary setting has given us a certain freedom too in sort of reimaging this odd duo.
Tony Tellado: Well I’ll tell you, it’s a lot of fun to kind of watch this deconstruction. I hate to say it about somebody else but they’re fictional so it’s – and it’s Norman.
Kerry Ehrin: That’s good. Thank you. I’m glad. Thanks.
Freddie Highmore: Thank you.
Special thanks to A & E