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.
Pic joins a busy Highland Film Group slate at Berlin’s EFM
Vera Farmiga is set to star in relationship comedy “Prima,” which was written by Evan Greenberg(“Sex Farce”), who will also direct.
“Prima” (aka “Dance of the Mirlitons”) turns on 12-year-old Jesse Urchin, who shocks everyone when she gets into to a posh dance school, forcing her mother to adapt to her daughter’s new milieu.
Producer Daniel Dubiecki (“Up in the Air,” “Juno”) and Lara Alameddine produce along with Canadian Screen Awards winning producer Karine Martin (“Moth Diaries,” “Maina”) under her Mediamax banner.
Highland Film Group (HFG) reps worldwide sales rights at the Berlin Festival’s European Film Market.
Clea DuVall, Sheryl Lee, Emily Alyn Lind and Ryan Bingham have joined the cast of contemporary romance “Your Right Mind,” which HFG title is also repping in Berlin.
“Mind” stars Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. Ami Canaan Mann directs from her own screenplay. Principal photography is currently under way in Utah.
Molly Hassell is producing with Canaan Mann and John Jencks. Jon Avnet, Rodrigo Garcia, Highland Film Group’s Arianne Fraser and Delphine Perrier, and Main Street Films’ Craig Chang are serving as executive producers.
The HFG slate also features Kelvin Tong’s new suspense- horror film “Email,” with Nikki Reed; Kevin Connolly’s “The Wright Girls,” starring Jessica Alba; and “Sanctuary,” from Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego.
“The Wright Girls” and “Sanctuary” are both from Atlas Independent, the affiliate company of Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment.
With her recent appearances headlining New Line’s horror hit The Conjuring as well as the A&E prequel series Bates Motel, one could be forgiven for thinking that the chiller genre is Vera Farmiga’s exclusive wheelhouse. However, the Up in the Air Oscar nominee has a long and storied resume (including Higher Ground, her 2011 directorial debut), and her most recent turn in director Glenn German’s At Middleston (now playing) bespeaks her range as a performer.
The charming rom-com, about a meet-cute during a college tour, pairs Farmiga with fellow Oscar-nominee Andy Garcia, and also features her sister Taissa in the role of her daughter. I recently had a chance to speak with the actress about what drew her to this particular project, what advice she’d give to young women trying to get ahead in the industry, and whether she prefers to work in television or film. What follows are some highlights of that conversation:
We’ve already had two brief teasers for ‘Bates Motel’s second season and now we have 3 images to share as well! The popular modern day origin story of Norman Bates has been a smashing success. Most likely due to the amazing performances of “mother and son” duo Vera Farmiga (‘The Conjuring‘,’Orphan’) and Freddie Highmore (‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’,’The Spiderwick Chronicles’) who have exemplified the creep factor of this twisted family quite perfectly.
The show returns on March 3rd, 2014, and will be including a slew of new faces such as: Paloma Kwiatkowski (‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’, ‘Whatever It Takes’) who is going to be another potential love interest for the son who loves his mother more than anyone else. Michael Vartan (‘Alias’, ‘One Hour Photo’) as a love interest for Norma (another future victem of Norman’s?), Michael Eklund (‘The Call’, ‘Watchmen’) who will be involved in the drug business, Rebecca Creskoff (‘Hung’, ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’) as the first friend Norma will seem to have on the show and finally Kenny Johnson (‘Sons Of Anarchy’, ”Dexter’) who will be playing Norma’s brother.
The premiere date for “Bates Motel”Season 2 has finally been revealed. Coming in at around the same time Season 1 premiered in 2012, the A&E series will return on March 3.
There have been plenty of promotional images and teasers released for the second season of “Bates Motel.” The new season will deal with the death of Miss Watson and also the introduction of Norma’s brother, Carlton (Kenny Johnson).
When Zap2it spoke to Nestor Carbonell, he teased that Season 2 will resolve some of Season 1′s cliffhangers fairly quickly. “One of the great things about this show is, even with cliffhangers, they’re pretty much dealt with head-on, so the payoff is always going to be there,” he says. “We definitely tackle [Miss Watson's death] pretty quickly in Season 2 and the ramifications of what happened with the teacher at the end of Season 1. Not that it’s all wrapped up in a neat bow, but it’s definitely being dealt with for sure.”
Season 1 of “Bates Motel” was one of the best new shows of 2012, so the upcoming Season 2 is something people should either be counting down the days to, or catching up on what they’ve missed to get excited.
Actress in a Series, Drama
Vera Farmiga – Bates Motel (A&E)
Olivia Colman – Broadchurch (BBC America)
Robin Wright – House of Cards (Netflix)
Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black (BBC America)
Abigail Spencer – Rectify (Sundance Channel)
See full list of nominees at site.
She’s already been nominated for an Academy Award, and now she’s up for an Emmy for her turn as Norma Bates in A&E’s ‘Psycho’ drama ‘Bates Motel.’ The beloved Farmiga talks to Anna Klassen.
How do you breathe life into a character whom audiences identify as nothing more than a corpse sitting in a basement?
Ask Vera Farmiga, the star of A&E’s Psycho prequel, Bates Motel[. The actress plays Norma Bates, who became a Hollywood horror icon in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic. But in Psycho, Norma is never seen—alive, that is—though she’s often heard inside the head of her deranged serial killer son, Norman.
Praised by many, Farmiga’s performance in Season 1 earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. “It’s the most powerful form of encouragement,” she tells The Daily Beast. “I know that the category is cutthroat and there are a lot of deserving women. It’s so darn special.”
Says series producer Kerry Ehrin of the nomination: “It is very deserved. She blows your hair back on a daily basis.” And Carlton Cuse (Lost) echoes his producer-partner, saying: “I’m glad she did get the nomination because if she didn’t I would literally be holed up on the floor someplace in depression.”
If you’ve seen a single episode of Farmiga as the modern-day Psycho’s mom, you know what all the fuss is about. Equal parts compassionate and neurotic, Farmiga plays Norma with an intense level of adrenaline. She murders rapists and hides their bodies, finds a dead man she used to sleep with in her bed, deals with the surprisingly never-ending list of Norman’s female admirers, and defends her son to the bitter end, her end—all the while looking smoking hot in a pair of 1950s pumps and an apron.
“It’s so rare to encounter in female characters this level of complexity,” says Farmiga, who compares Norma to her son’s Legos: “He wants the imperial shuttle with the double rotating doors. Norma Bates is the imperial shuttle.” But according to producer Cuse, it’s just as rare to find an actress like Farmiga to take on the powerhouse role. “Vera was someone we always wanted for the show, but in television you don’t always get lucky and get your first choice, especially when your first choice is an Academy Award-nominated actress,” he says. “She just killed the part.”
Like Norma, Farmiga is a mother who uses her real-life circumstances to fuel her performance. “In the [Psycho] house, if you look around, there are photos of my own children. There’s photos of my daughter Gytta and my son Fynn,” she says, a wide smile forming on her lips. “It’s such an emotional role. We do take after take. It’s such a rapid pace that sometimes it just takes a glance at a certain photo and it puts me in this real place of compassion.”
Compassionate, however, is a word few would use to describe Norma Bates. Playing a character historically blamed for her son’s illness, Farmiga feels a distinct need to shift viewers’ perceptions of Norma. “She comes with a lot of projections onto who she may have been, and assumptions, but really she’s just a pile of bones,” she says. “I’ve been appointed by Kerry [Ehrin] and Carlton [Cuse] in her defense to present to the jury and the audience a completely different notion of who she is.”
With Vera’s emotion-packed, high-anxiety performance, we just might buy it.
Nestor Carbonell (Lost), who has jokingly described his character on Bates Motel as “an ageless sheriff with guyliner,” went out of his way to sing Farmiga’s praises at the show’s Comic-Con panel in July. “She rarely goes into her trailer and is one of the most giving actors I’ve ever worked with.”
“I really hope doing however many seasons we do it, the audience will grow to adore her, respect her, and root for her, even though she reaches her demise.”
Freddie Highmore, who plays the emotionally distraught teenage Norman and who shoots nearly every scene with his on-screen mother, offers similar praise. “She’s great, isn’t she?” he says. “She’s brilliant. I’m very lucky to have worked with her. I’m so lucky to be able to act opposite of her almost every single day. She constantly brings new ideas and keeps you on your toes. She’s always alive on set.”
But fans of the 1960 original—that is, practically everyone who has or hasn’t seen the film—knows that one day, Norma must meet her end. Farmiga is aware of the conflict. All good things, even genre-defying performances, must come to an end. “I really hope doing however many seasons we do it, the audience will grow to adore her, respect her, and root for her, even though she reaches her demise,” she says. “This character is a real roll-up-your-sleeves job. I really, genuinely approach the character with the utmost integrity.”
Bates Motel won’t return for its second season until 2014, but Farmiga already has us anticipating what’s to come:
“I just finished Episode 3, and the complete unexpected has come my way. I wish I could share it with you. I can only tell you that I am terrified. The actor’s challenge for me to do what I need to do is something I did not anticipate. It’s a zoo. It’s a real zoo.”