Freddie Highmore Q&A: ‘Bates Motel’
Freddie Highmore is happy with the “fantastic pay-off for the story set-up” over the first four years of “Bates Motel.” “It feels worth it,” he says during our recent webcam chat (watch above) about a plot that took many wild and surprising twists before ending up, at season’s end, where it had to go in order to be in synch with the classic “Psycho” film: with the death of Norman’s mother (Vera Farmiga).
TV viewers suspected that wacko Norman might kill her, but didn’t know for sure that he’d dare to harm his beloved mom. And how he offed her turned out to be a shock that made grotesque sense in retrospect: smothering her in gas meant to kill him, too, so they’d be bound together eternally. “They’re both just so broken and at their lowest point that he’s going to do what he believes is right,” Highmore adds. It’s a last act of love for the two of them.”
As an actor, Highmore faced a lot of fierce challenges over the past year while striving to portray a psychotic, budding serial killer in a sympathetic way so that TV audiences would continue to root for him. “As long as we know what’s guiding Norman, what’s going on deep inside, then we can’t help but feel for him because, in the end, he’s just a boy who wants his mother,” he explains.
But Norman is so crazy that he actually thinks he is his mom at times, of course, and those scenes were the hardest for Highmore to perform. “The trickiest stuff is when we see Norman transition into Norma. We’re skeptical as an audience, saying, like, ‘What do you mean he just turned in this moment into another person?’ So finding solutions to that transition was a challenge and giving it the right space and time, which (producers) Kerry (Ehrin) and Carlton (Cuse) always did.”
Ehrin and Cuse invited Highmore to join the writers’ staff in season 4 and now he’s due to return to the writers’ room for the final season, which begins production this September. “It’s been incredibly exciting,” he says.