‘Bates Motel’: 10 things we learnt from Freddie Highmore

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Starring Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as the shy 17-year-old Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga (The Departed) as his loving but manipulative mother Norma, Bates Motel looks set to cast these familiar characters in a new – but no less disturbing – light.

Episode 1 airs at 9pm on Thursday 12 September on Universal Channel.

> Read our preview of Bates Motel.

CultBox recently attended a Q&A with leading man Freddie Highmore, where we learnt a few things about the making of Bates Motel and what it was like going from Charlie Bucket to one of cinema’s most terrifying psychopaths.

Norman won’t be killing someone every week

According to Highmore, the series employs some good ol’ fashioned Hitchcockian suspense, meaning we’ll probably be kept waiting for Norman’s first brush with murder. Highmore describes the ten-part series as “solving the problem” of Norman Bates, in other words illustrating just how he came to be the murdering psychopath we all know and love.

Highmore did not draw upon his relationship with his own mother for the role

My goodness, that’s a relief.

Highmore is a fan of anti-heroes

Though we all associate Highmore with the innocent roles that made him famous – Peter in Finding Neverland and Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – he asserts that he’s loved playing Norman and is a big fan of ambiguous, complicated characters and psychological thrillers.

It’s all about the setting…

Though set in the present day, Bates Motel features some ‘60s flourishes, in particular the house which Norma and Norman move into. Highmore describes the house as possessing a “timeless quality” and explains that Norman’s twisted relationship with his mother is intrinsically tied to the Gothic setting.

Vera Farmiga is a very good mother in real life

Highmore was quick to assure us that – despite her onscreen self coming up somewhat short in the mothering stakes – his co-star Farmiga, who has two children, is a great mother and a good pal of his.

Norman’s half-brother Dylan will play an important role

One key new character joining the cast will be Dylan, Norma’s son from a previous marriage. According to Highmore, drifter Dylan (played by Max Thieriot) will take up the audience’s point of view, playing an onlooker to the increasingly disturbing events.

Freddie Highmore’s biggest fear is… who Arsenal are going to sign

When asked about his phobias, Highmore was hard-pressed to think of anything else!

The storylines will mostly develop around Norman’s transformation

A key part of the drama will revolve around the 17-year-old Norman’s transition from shy, sweet teenager into unhinged murderer – although Highmore is quick to assure us that he has no idea how the series will end.

Highmore juggles playing Norman Bates with his degree

Clever clogs Highmore is currently working towards a degree in Arabic & Spanish at Cambridge University, but – after receiving top marks in his first and second year – doesn’t seem too phased by the prospect of filming and studying at the same time. Which is good news as…

A second season is on its way!

Filming has already started, with ten brand new episodes set to air in 2014.

> Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.