Aside from Rihanna being cast as Marion Crane for the final season of “Bates Motel,” there are still other questions lingering after watching that Season 4 finale. What we know for certain is that Norma is dead at Norman’s hand — leading the Season 5 story directly into “Psycho” territory. But, how will this all play out?
Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates) and Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates) spoke to Zap2it at San Diego Comic-Con about the changes to be expected in the upcoming season. As far as the shift in the Norma character, Farmiga’s only request is that she not be limited.
“I think it’s going to continue being a playground. That was my biggest fear, she would be minimized,” Farmiga says. “She was so robust, Norma Bates. I had no idea when I signed onto this that I would be singing and dancing and playing piano — being funny and being absurd. I had no idea that this female characterization embodied all of that.”
Farmiga continues, “I think there’s going to be more liberties and lunacy, given the fact that she is a figment … a ghost that he’s creating.”
And speaking of Norman … Highmore is stepping behind the camera yet again to write another episode for the show. Between juggling his on and off-camera responsibilities, it sounds like things can get quite heated on-set … but for all the right reasons.
A&E’s critically acclaimed Bates Motel will, unfortunately, be ending after season five. The final season will find Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) dead to everyone but Norman (Freddie Highmore) whose fragile mental state continues to erode as he carries on conversations with his deceased mother. During the 2016 San Diego Comic Con I had the opportunity to speak with Farmiga about her death scene in season four and what we can expect as the show heads into its final season. Farmiga hasn’t seen any season five scripts but says she’s game for anything series creators/writers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin have in store for Norma.
Vera Farmiga Interview:
It was so sad to watch Norma die. How was it to play that scene?
Vera Farmiga: “I loved it. I have been emoting so much for years and I couldn’t wait for serenity. I really couldn’t. I worked very hard for it, but it’s been an emotionally frantic thing to execute for me. And I actually, to be really honest with you, was really psyched to relax and fall asleep. I rubbed it into the boys’ faces. They had this thing where they would call me ‘Easy Money’ because all of a sudden they had to take over and they had to deliver really, really huge emotional stuff. But for me it was a chance to just fall asleep, nod off, and hover on that sort of sleep and that was the key for me to play. There was one moment which was really dark and it was the first time – the moment where they actually dug me six feet under, put me in the coffin, and closed the coffin and started shoveling dirt – I literally felt the fear and paralysis and the awareness for me like I don’t know what. There was literally a moment where my spirit just kind of jolted out of my body. I don’t know, it was just a really strange moment. That was the hardest thing for me.”
Was it sad?
Vera Farmiga: “It was sadder than I thought it would be. I thought I could rest on the laurels of my Eastern European stoicism about it. I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever. She dies.’ Like, I have these super-charged storytelling experiences my whole career, but this one really hit me hard.”
How has it been being in a TV series for going on five years? It’s the first time, isn’t it?
Vera Farmiga: “It’s the first time. I’ve done a couple of them where they only went to 13 episodes. I loved this role. I loved my collaborators. I have such close friends now, and you can see that chemistry on scene. You can see how we absolutely adore each other and how close we are, and how affectionate we are. I think it just comes across. You know, that’s a cool thing for me to experience because usually when you work so long with people, there’s no lukewarm attitude. You’re either going to love each other or you’re going to come out the other way, and I adore them.”
What’s your role as an executive producer?
Vera Farmiga: “I think in the capacity that I do I’ve always been very vocal about my ideas and keeping making sure… I mean I’m on set every day making sure that tonally everybody is on the same page. I’ve directed before and the boys will tell you that even though I haven’t directed a single episode I’m always directing them. I’m always bossing people around and doing my thing, and they let me. In that respect I think is where you see ‘executive producer’. I’m always kind of doing backup. It just has been the case.
And this year what I really love is that after I directed Higher Ground, I think one of the most enriching experiences for me to be a part of where I thrived, and probably if I didn’t do what I do I would be an editor. I love that process, and this year they made me privy to all the footage and I was able to see directors’ cuts and give them my impressions and ideas. That was really fun for me to do as an executive producer on the series.”
Are you looking forward to this next season where it’s more intimate scenes between you and Freddie Highmore because that’s all it can be with Norma dead?
Vera Farmiga: “You know what? I have no idea what’s in store. I don’t even know how I’m going to approach Norma. Until they give me some words…and I haven’t seen a single page of season five. I only imagine that they have no rules anymore. They’re throwing all the rules out because she’s there. They choose to push her out that season four window and she’s fallen 12 stories high like a Hefty cinch sack filled with vegetable soup and now Norman’s got to pick up all these pieces, these fractured pieces of his psyche, so I think it’s going to be very interesting. I have no idea what’s in store but I’m game for it.”
Do you really enjoy doing horror projects?
Vera Farmiga: “Bates Motel, I don’t look at it as a horror. There’s horrifying events that happen to real people but there’s nothing supernatural. To me I always treat it like a delicate love story and that’s my approach. Even in, to be honest with you, The Conjuring it’s like we’ve taken that genre and turned it on its head. When have you ever seen song and dance numbers and love stories as a part of a horror film? And so I don’t approach them in…I don’t even know what that means. I look at my characters and I’ll be wowed by them in terms of who they are and what they’ve come through in life and where they’re going. That’s how I approach it. If it happens to be in a drama film, great. The fact is I’d done almost probably around 50 films and only four or five of them have been horror.”
Vera Farmiga makes being frightened frightening to watch. Viewers of James Wan’s horror smash The Conjuring, in which she and Patrick Wilson enjoyed the hit of their careers as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, have this woman’s expressive screams and facial movements to thank for half their nightmares.
Even in person, Wilson is wary of sitting too close. When we speak, Farmiga hasn’t yet seen their follow-up, The Conjuring 2, with a public audience, only at a private screening where her on-screen husband kept his distance. “Patrick chose to sit about six seats away from me,” Farmiga says, “because he knows me by now – he knows I would have jumped in his lap right the way through, even though I know the story.”
The Conjuring 2, also directed by Wan, moves beyond the first film’s American hauntings to resurrect the famous case of the Enfield Poltergeist, which freaked out two young sisters in suburban London in the late 1970s.
After a spate of unexplained disturbances, including bite-marks on one girl’s neck and chairs sliding about with a life of their own, the Warrens flew to England to document these goings-on.
Naturally, the film takes the facts of the case as just a springboard for those churning, state-of-the-art scare tactics in which Wan (Saw, Insidious) has always specialised. (more…)
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