Comic-Con 2013: ‘Bates Motel’ Live-Blog

07.20.13 3 years ago 2 Comments

A&E

Time for another busy day of Comic-Con live-blogging.

Because the “I’m Just Following Orders and I Have No Immediate Superior You Can Talk To” Comic-Con fascists have placed tight restrictions on computer charging in Ballroom 20, I’m gonna be live-blogging, rather than taking notes at panels and writing later. It’s just easier.

I’ve got “Bates Motel” now and then “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Arrow” in the late afternoon.

But for now? Let’s hear about Season 2 for our favorite Mother-Son team of Norma and Norman Bates…

10:01 a.m. We’re in Room 6 a for a packed panel.

10:01 p.m. We’re already cheering for Vera Farmiga’s Emmy nod and she isn’t even on-stage yet.

10:02 a.m. Big applause for Nestor Carbonell and Carlton Cuse and Vera Farmiga. I’m cheering loudly for Olivia Cooke. Also for Kerry Ehrin, I suppose. Freddie Highmore is a no-show.

10:03 a.m. How did Vera flesh out her character? “I think the first part of the process was to go to the Google search window of my laptop and type in ‘Parents of psychopaths,” she says. She says that she viewers Norma as being strong and loving and nurturing. “She’s incredibly flawed. Yes, she comes with a really warped history and a lot of pain, but I think for me the approach to her is that in her defense, she’s the mother of a child with mental issues. And there’s no way that a parent can say, ‘My child has a mental illness’ without their spirit imploding.”

10:05 a.m. Oh. The Freddie thing is a gimmick and we’re pretending it’s something they can’t discuss. Cuse is hemming and hawing about “what happened.” So that means… Film clip!

10:05 a.m. It’s behind the scenes at Universal in the writers’ room. They’re pitching ideas about Norma’s mother and whatnot. Freddie comes to visit, all British and polite. He tells the writers that he’s getting ready to return to shoot and he wants to look at the writers’ board. He discovers that Norma only has a few scenes and Vera is getting all of the good scenes. This makes Freddie a little unhappy. Cuse volunteers to take Freddie to see the Bates House on the Universal lot. Cuse is recording his “Previously on ‘Bates Motel'” voiceover and he shows Freddie the new ap, which features a huge picture of Vera and a tiny picture of Freddie. He’s very unhappy, Freddie is. Cuse warns him that he may drive himself psycho. They arrive at the Bates Motel house and Freddie seems entranced. “Welcome home,” he says to the house. A tour bus drives by. “This will be a treat for them! I’m actually here,” he says. “Be careful. It looks like Norman Bates is home,” the guide says. Freddie sees a man leaving the motel and this also makes him unhappy. Very unhappy. Minutes later, he’s taking a body out of the motel and throwing it in a car trunk, covered in blood. [This clip is funny, but it’s WAY too long.] There’s a running joke about all of the languages Freddie speaks. It was nine earlier. IT’s up to 17 now. After hitting on a woman on the bus, he’s taken away by security and…

10:12 a.m. Oh look! Freddie Highmore’s here!

10:12 a.m. The moderator wants to know about the murder of Miss Watson in the finale. He dodges. Apparently Freddie Highmore spent his hiatus interning at a law firm in Spain? It was part of his course at Cambridge. But serious… About the murder. “It certainly sets things up nice for Season 2,” Highmore says, but he admits that he doesn’t know much about Season 2. He says this continues Norman’s transition to both being psycho and being aware of it.

10:14 a.m. What is Max Thieriot’s take on the Dylan-Bradley relationship. “As Norman’s brother, I’m kinda rooting for whatever’s going to keep me alive and I don’t know what’s going to make him turn,” he says. “That’s the good thing about being Norman Bates. You know you’re going to be there til the end,” Highmore adds.

10:15 a.m. Olivia Cooke says that she likes where things are with Emma and Norman right now. “It can’t end well either way for them,” she admits. “It becomes like a family show. It just becomes Emma and Norman running the hotel,” Cuse jokes.

10:16 a.m. “He has a own way of dealing with the law,” Carbonell says of Romero and his code. “When Carlton called and said ‘Do you want to play an ageless sheriff who dies last?’ I said yes,” Carbonell jokes, while Cuse mentions the flashback episode for Romero. There’s lots of joking about doing a Hawaii episode. You see… They worked together on “Lost.”

10:18 a.m. “No one ever told us that anything had to remain,” Ehrin says of what they could or couldn’t change, though they wanted to keep certain things, like the look of the house/hotel. “You wouldn’t want to see Norman Bates check into a split-level ranch,” Cuse says. “We didn’t think it would be very interesting to just do something we could never do as well as Alfred Hitchcock,” Cuse says. “I think the audience has some idea of the way it’s going to go,” he admits, but says the way the story plays out is still unknown. “We’re telling this story that people have some kind of idea ‘Well, it’s not going to end,’ but the path there is super-fun. For us,” Cuse says.

10:20 a.m. The freeway bypass will be dealt with in Season 2. “It’s just entire episodes in town council meetings,” Cuse says. “It’s kinda a Civics lesson.” Cuse jokes, “Norman’s going to be doing more taxidermy, stuffing bigger animals next year,” he adds.

10:21 a.m. How many more sinister industries are there in the town? “I think there were like 10,000 murders in whatever that place was where Angela Landsbury lived, so cut us some slack,” Cuse cracks.

10:21 a.m. Season 2 teases: Norma’s brother might show up this season. Nobody makes a noise. “Wow. That’s an overwhelming response. We’re going back to the city council meeting,” Cuse chuckles. “There’s some new romance for Norman and Norma this year. Yes. And not with each other, OK? Not yet, anyway. There’s some limits,” Cuse says.

10:22 a.m. Did they always know they were ending the season with that murder? No. They originally were doing six episodes leading up to Shelby’s death. “It actually worked out well, because it forced us to advance the storytelling in a way faster than we expected,” Cuse says. 

10:24 a.m. What was filming like? Any odd stories? Cuse recalls going out with special effects guys in a boat and tossing a dummy into the water to explore sink-rates. They kept throwing bodies into the water and a kayak tour group paddled by as they were tossing and the group paddled extra fast. Cute. Vera says that when they eventually shot that scene, the boat had a leak. Freddie says that the hotel set is next to a dump and it smells. They shot in the winter the first time around and he’s afraid what will happen in the summer. “Emotional scenes for that reason can be kinda easier to do. You just catch the wind,” Farmiga jokes.

Much more on Page 2…

10:26 a.m. Have he actors pitched any storylines for their characters. Actually, Cuse says that in season’s second episode, there’s a storyline that Vera pitched. He doesn’t want to spoil. Cuse’s cryptic tease for that episode? “Sandman.” INTERESTING. And MEANINGLESS. Cuse teases that Thieriot’s character will have some sex this season.

10:29 a.m. What is going through Freddie’s head when Norman blacks out? “I don’t know… You pretend,” says Highmore, who doesn’t like discussing his process. He admits that he enjoyed working with Vera to come up with Norman’s version of Norma’s voice. “I always do the preparation beforehand and then forget about it on set and see what happens,” Highmore says. He thanks Vera for constantly being alive and active in scenes.

10:30 a.m. How did Vera and Freddie bond beforehand? “He kept asking me out on dates. I have a two and a four-year-old at home who need some real mothering,” Farmiga jokes. She adds, however, that they hit it off right away. “We do disagree slightly on Norma and Norman’s relationship. I think it’s slightly dodgy and Vera thinks it’s really nice,” Highmore says. “What do you think? Do you think it slightly crosses the line?” Freddie asks us.

10:31 a.m. How do the writers approach that line? “IT’s a gradual process of two different psychologies. Norma is very needy, so she doesn’t always see what she’s doing. She has that drive… she’s lonely,” Ehrin says. “She really doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong.” “I think any mother in the audience will tell you that they grow up so quickly and you have to slather it on while you can,” Farmiga chips in.

10:32 a.m. Audience questions: Awww. First questioner loved the show when she was in the hospital recovering from cancer. The question? Will the book Norman finds in the hotel be available in print? “There were some print copies floating around and maybe we can get you one,” Cuse says, before promising to get one.

10:34 a.m. What is Dylan’s long-term purpose? “By giving Norman a brother, it basically signaled that we were not beholden to a literal reproduction of the Hitchcock storyline,” Cuse says. This character is looking in from the outside and looking at the Norman-Norma relationship. “In a way he’s sorta the audience’s way of objectively measuring that relationship,” Cuse says. Thieriot helped the character grow as the writers saw what he was bringing, calling it “an interactive relationship.”

10:36 a.m. Did the writers do any psychiatric research? “A lifetime,” Ehrin jokes. “The first question is what is Norman’s disorder? So we had to figure that out and do research and talk to doctors,” Ehrin says. They’re approaching it as a dissociative identity disorder. It stems from childhood trauma. “The Oedipal thing, that a whole other circus you get to lay on top of it,” Ehrin says, gushing about doing so many different perceptions of reality, comparing it to doing a puzzle.

10:37 a.m. How far do they envision carrying the story into Norman’s adulthood? “‘Bates Motel’ is a story with a beginning, middle and end,” Cuse says, hinting that they’re already talking about how long the story should last. “I don’t think that we’re doing 14 years of ‘Bates Motel,’ so our idea is to tell the story as best we can in the right amount of time. Creatively you figure that out as you go along,” Cuse says, referencing the “Lost” model, of course.

10:39 a.m. What drew the actors to the project? Oliva was drawn by the character. Nestor got the first six scripts, which he admits is unusual. “I just look at female characterizations the way my four-and-a-half-year-old looks at Legos,” Farmiga says, noting that her son likes the big fancy Lego sets and she likes big fancy characters. “Norman Bates isn’t such a bad gig, is it?” says Highmore, who signed on after Farmiga had committed. “We really benefited enormously from incredible support from A&E,” Cuse says, because the network encouraged them to write more scripts and ordered the show without a pilot, etc. “I think that by virtue of that, we were then able to create the material that then attracted these actors, so a lot of kudos goes to A&E for that,” Cuse says.

10:42 a.m. Will we ever get to hear the classic “Psycho” theme? “The idea of doing homages to the original I fear throws you out of the story you’re telling,” Cuse says. He says that doing subtle homages like the pilot’s body-in-bathtub was the right way to reference. The taxidermy stuff is another example. “We just don’t want to throw you out of our story by doing too large of an homage,” he closes.

10:44 a.m. What’s it like for Vera to play a dramatic character who exaggerates so much? “See, I don’t think she’s exaggerating,” Farmiga says, half-joking and half-serious. She calls the role “just exhausting,” but the writing is “so precise.” What was the most challenging scene? “I would say that it was the admission of incestry, either that or the rape scene,” Farmiga says. Carbonell praises Farmiga for carrying the emotional load and for not spending much time in her trailer.

10:46 a.m. A questioner claims to be a big fan of the “Psycho” sequels, but praises them for mixing in hints of “Twin Peaks.” He wants to know if any “Twin Peaks” people might show up in town. “We love ‘Twin Peaks’ and it was one of a number of things that we talked about when we were creating the show. All of those actors are so fantastic, but all of it is so circumstantial,” Cuse says, though it sounds like he’d like to cast something if “there’s the right alignment of role and actor.”

10:48 a.m. Creepy guy fell in love with Farmiga on “The Departed” and he’s glad that Farmiga and Jessica Lange are in two different categories. He wants more more shirtless scenes of Max and Nestor. He closes with, “This bear is demanding it!” Well… that was… something. “What about Freddie?” Olivia asks. “The show could turn in surprising ways. Well, we are shooting in the summer…” Cuse says, vowing to take the request back to the writers’ room.

10:50 a.m. Questioner thinks the characters of Max and Emma are like the equivalent of Hurley on “Lost.” However, she hates Nestor on this, but in a good way. She seems to like “Lost.” A lot. “That’s one of the reasons I was drawn to the role. I didn’t much care for him either,” Carbonell says. He promises we’re going to get to know more about his character and the pressure he’s under. “I never want to play likability. I just want to play what my character wants,” he says.

10:51 a.m. A mother of a child with cystic fibrosis wants to know why the writers chose that condition and she praises Emma for how abusive she is to her oxygen bottle. Ehrin has had friends with cystic fibrosis and she always admired that they didn’t let that define them. Ehrin also thought it was an interesting thing to create somebody with real life-and-death stakes. Cooke says she likes that the character is about “everything but her disability.”

10:53 a.m. Questioner wants to know if they’re going to touch on any of the revelations at the end of “Psycho 2”? “No. They had their own mythology and we have our own mythology,” Cuse says. Only the original “Psycho” is being brought into play. 

10:54 a.m. Last question: Will there be any storylines with more murders between Norma and Norman work together? “They’re starting a business,” somebody jokes. “You don’t really plan on storytelling that way,” Ehrin says, noting that it would be silly if every year they kill somebody and hide it from the police. But who knows? “You never know,” Cuse teases.

That’s all, folks…

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