Norma Bates has at least one defender: the woman who plays her,”Bates Motel” star Vera Farmiga.
“I admire her tenacious love for her child,” Farmiga tells members of the press during a conference call promoting “Bates Motel” Season 2. “I admire her generous heart. She has really disarming honesty.”
But even Farmiga knows that Norma’s obsessive love with her son Norman (Freddie Highmore) sometimes makes her a bit of a psycho.
“She does wrap Norman in bubble wrap all the time,” Farmiga says, noting that Norman is the “light” in Norma’s life. “This is a story, after all, about family dysfunction. … For me, the name of the game is to present to you a woman who lives every day in the trenches of maternity, and also in the trenches of her own stubbornness and denial.”
That denial manifests in Norma not realizing how dependent she is on Norman for her happiness. While Farmiga and executive producer Kerry Ehrin say that has prevented Norma from making a relationship with another man, Farmiga notes Norma doesn’t recognize that about herself.
Because Norma is still in denial, that allows for a love interest to come into the picture. As Ehrin previously teased to Zap2it, that new man is Michael Vartan’s character. “She believes she has room for love in her life,” Ehrin says of Norma on the call.
Farmiga adds of Season 2, “It very much is a journey of following [Norma and Norman] deconstruct things that are good.”
Because of Norma’s history of sexual abuse, she has her own series of dark problems in addition to her troubles covering up Norman’s mental issues. This darkness within Norma will continue to be a factor in Season 2.
“These poisonous feelings she has are rooted so deep in her psyche, and she’s never uprooted them,” Farmiga explains. “She’s totally preoccupied with Norman because, imagine it for yourself, it’s such a dark moment; the faint-heartedness, the doom, when you discover or suspect that there’s something not quite right neurologically with your child. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted, so every ounce of energy is her struggle with raising Norman as a typical child, doing it as single parent.”
Ehrin adds, “She’s valiantly doing the best she f***ing can, and you’ve got to admire that. That to me is being a mother.”
One big change for Farmiga from Season 1 to Season 2 is that she asked Ehrin and fellow EPCarlton Cuse to clue her in on key story developments early on. “I wanted to have the trajectory of the second season. I wanted to have more episodes at the start, which I was provided,” she says.
Farmiga hopes it helps her embodiment of Norma, for which she was nominated for an Emmy in 2013. Despite Norma being based on the character from “Psycho,” Farmiga says she’s felt freedom within her role.
“Everything we knew about Norma Bates was through the fractured psyche of Anthony Perkins‘ Norman,” Farmiga says of the movie. “To me it’s one of the most original characters I have ever encountered.”
Expect to have “Bates Motel” back for a third season, and for Norma and Norman to come close to achieving what they desire in Season 2. But as viewers have come to know from the A&E drama, there is always darkness looming in “Bates Motel.”
“I find dark stories uplifting. I think it’s during the darkest moments of our lives that we see the light. There’s a lot of darkness in ‘Bates Motel,’ but there’s a lot of joy. For me, I’ve always looked at things, and I choose to look at through the lens of positivity,” Farmiga says. “It’s a story about commitment and love and family and resilience and loyalty.”
“Bates Motel” Season 2 premieres March 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on A&E.