A&E’s spine-tinging new series Bates Motel premiered Monday night, and this contemporary take on one of the greatest slasher films in history has been getting some serious buzz. Starring Freddie Highmore as the infamous Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother Norma, the 10-episode series plans to create a picture of Norman’s early days before being a serial killer. Here’s what you should know about the new psychological drama.
1. The Show Will Explore the Origins of Norman Bates
The new Psycho TV prequel will explore what made Norman Bates into the killer we all knew in the films. In the pilot episode, we see Norman and Norma moving into White Pine Bay to start a new life after the death of Norman’s father. Viewers will see the mother and son relationship between the two characters as well as Norman’s descent into darkness after seeing his mother kill her attacker at the motel and making a few discoveries in his new home.
2. Freddie Highmore Plays Norman Bates
Norman Bates is portrayed by British actor Freddie Highmore, who’s known for the many movie roles he played as a child. The former child star appeared in blockbuster movies like Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Spiderwick Chronicles. Freddie spoke with the Daily Beast about his scariest role to date:
When the show is pushed slightly too far, the audience is left to wonder if their relationship is normal or not.
3. Vera Farmiga is Norma Bates
Acclaimed actress Vera Farmiga takes a stab at her first TV role as the Psycho killer’s caring but incestuous mother Norma Bates. The Up in the Air actress will portray Norma as a mother doing whatever it takes to start a new life while protecting the son she loves so much. The series will show the secrets that the mother will carry along with her son as the series progresses. About her new role, she told the CS Monitor:
It’s a very typical portrayal of maternity and its function and dysfunction and its victories and defeats. She doesn’t always make the right decisions.
4. Audiences Will See Another Member of the Bates Family
The pilot showed audiences another member of the Bates household in a scene where Norma talks to her estranged older son Dylan. In the upcoming second episode, he will appear at the motel trying to fix things with his mother and half-brother, which as we all know will end miserably for them. Played by Max Thieriot, Dylan will bring a whole new level of trouble for Norman as we will see him abuse Norman up to his breaking point. Norman’s relationship with his brother will impact his life in school as well as his personal life.
5. Friday Night Lights and Lost Producers Come Together
Bates Motel wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for producers Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano. This trio of executive producers are known for creating some of TV’s most provocative series to date, like Lost and Friday Night Lights. EPs Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin told Entertainment Weekly that this version will be a new story and will not be a remake or a retelling of Psycho. Cuse said:
Kerry had this idea, thinking about this in terms of being a tragedy, which I instantly responded to. We just made it ours. It really became our story, taking these characters as launching points.
6. A Lost Star Plays a Sheriff
Bates Motel includes an actor from cult fave Lost playing a prominent role. Nestor Carbonell, who fans know as Richard Alpert in the J.J. Abrams series, will play sheriff Royce Romero. Deadline describes his character as a law enforcer who has “something almost sinister about him.” He is joined by Mike Vogel, who plays the deputy who has an affair with Norma during the series. Nestor is no stranger to playing an authority figure on TV, playing an FBI agent in the defunct series Ringer.
7. The Last Airbender‘s Nicola Peltz Has a Recurring Role
You may recognize Nicola Peltz, who starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s take on Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, which did horribly in the box office. Nicola has a recurring role in the TV series as Bradley Martin, a girl from Norman’s high school who befriends him and becomes a love interest. She is in the running for the next Transformers movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
8. The Season Will Run for 10 Episodes
It was initially ordered as a pilot, but A&E immediately made Bates Motel into a series of 10 episodes. Its being shot in Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada. A&E released a press release about its newest project last summer after the channel’s President and GM Bob DeBitetto and Executive Vice President of Programming David McKillop made the announcement:
We are proud to be partnering with Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin on their thrilling reinvention of one of the most compelling characters in cinematic history.
9. There Are Some References From Psycho
When fans of Psycho watch the prequel series, they will notice a couple of reference’s from Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece in horror. The motel that the Bates move to is an exact duplicate of the film right down to the details like the framed bird sketches on the walls where Marion Crane met her untimely death. Other details include the part where Norma stabs her attacker with the same kind of butcher knife that Norman will soon use in his killings and the clean-up scene where Norman and Norma dump the body into the bathtub in Cabin No. 1.
10. This Isn’t TV’s First Attempt at a Take on Psycho
Before the AE series came to fruition, the Psycho TV spin-off was attempted back in 1987 when NBC produced a TV sequel to the timeless slasher film. The show had Bud Cort as troubled teen Alex West who ends up in an asylum where he meets the imprisoned Norman Bates and befriends him. After Norman dies, Alex inherits Norman’s hotel and tries to renovate it but he experiences strange occurrences within the building. The pilot was originally intended to be a TV show but wasn’t picked up by the network due to low ratings and negative reviews.