Freddie Highmore‘s mentally unstable protagonist goes from snuggling with his mom to spying on showering strippers when A&E’s “Bates Motel” returns on Monday for its Season 3 debut. But the 23-year-old British actor is used to playing a rather peculiar Norman Bates.
“He’s a bit of a perv, isn’t he, at times,” Highmore told TheWrap. “But a nice guy, too.”
Highmore revealed much of Season 3 deals with Norman’s borderline incestuous relationship with his mother Norma (played by Vera Farmiga): “The first shot of the third season is Norma and Norman spooning in bed, so that sets the tone,” he said.
But while their physical relationship grows stronger, he says turbulent times are head for them emotionally.
“There’s that physical closeness … that becomes increasingly more so as the season develops,” Highmore said. “The kiss we saw at the end of Season 2 is just the start of them growing closer physically, but, emotionally, they start to break up during the third season.”
Sharing a bed with an actress old enough to be his mother might be awkward enough for an actor, but on “Bates Motel” the 43-year-old Farmiga actually plays his mom. But Highmore said shooting those scenes can actually be quite hilarious, which helps them stay grounded in reality.
“There is always humor you find in it. So much about ‘Bates Motel’ is pushing it up to the point where it would cease to be believable and stopping there, because you always want it to be grounded in reality and to have Norma and Norman’s relationship be real, even if it becomes increasingly bizarre,” he said. “I think with those intimate scenes with Vera, after an especially long nose rub or cuddle, the desire to laugh is somewhat useful in order to guide you to how far you can push it without it being fake.”
Highmore also spoke about Norman’s promotion to motel manager and two other burgeoning relationships on Season 3: with Emma (Olivia Cooke) and a new woman who visits the motel.
“Bates Motel” returns to A&E at 9 p.m. on Monday.