Highmore goes a little 'Psycho' as 'Bates Motel' starts second season

Tue Mar 4, 2014 12:44am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While most college students often use their year abroad to embrace the culture and nightlife of new countries, British actor Freddie Highmore opted to play one of the most notorious fictional serial killers, Norman Bates.

Highmore, 22, plays a teenage version of Norman Bates who helps his erratic mother run a hotel in modern-day Oregon in the A&E series "Bates Motel," which returns for a second season on Monday.

"Bates Motel" is the first television series for Highmore, who is currently finishing up his final year at Cambridge University, where he studies Spanish and Arabic. The actor started out his career playing wide-eyed young boys in films such as 2004's "Finding Neverland" and 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

But playing Norman Bates has presented a new direction in Highmore's career, playing an innocent, sensitive teenager who begins to transition into a psychologically disturbed young man with an abnormally intimate relationship with his mother, played by Vera Farmiga.

"I always did want to get to play a killer, so I guess that one's ticked off," the young actor said with a laugh.

"What's fun about 'Bates Motel' is that the characters change so much. The Norman that we see at the start of season one is markedly different to the end of season two," he said.

After a dramatic finale in season one that culminated with the suspicious death of Norman's attractive young female teacher, the second season opens with Norman trying to cope with her demise by embracing taxidermy. The hobby of stuffing dead animals may be an eerie foreshadowing of his future path.

"The biggest journey he'll go on is this growing sense of self-awareness about who he is or who he might become," Highmore said.   Continued...

British cast member Freddie Highmore takes part in a panel discussion of A&E's "Bates Motel" during the 2013 Winter Press Tour for the Television Critics Association in Pasadena, California January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas