With Vera Farmiga cast as the most terrifying mother in cinema in the Psycho TV series Bates Motel three weeks ago, we were dying to know who plays her on-screen son. And now we have our answer, except that it’s plural, as in sons. Hmm, already Bates Motel is shaping up to be a whole different animal than the Hitchcock film that inspired it.
Freddie Highmore, who broke our hearts as the bright-eyed youngster in Finding Neverland and has since grown up in The Art of Getting By, will play Norman Bates. And then there’s Max Thieriot, who plays Norman’s older brother Dylan, a James Dean type who rides motorcycles and doesn’t approve of Norman and mom Norma’s (yep) weirdly intimate relationship. Bear in mind that in Psycho Norman was an only child; indeed, that’s part of what made his bond with “Mother” so scary and isolated from the rest of the world.
However, it’s clear that Dylan has been inserted into Bates Motel as a foil, to comment on Norman and Norma being creepily entwined. According to a script leak via Shock Till You Drop, the pilot has Norma uprooting Norman and buying the property that will become the Bates Motel. Dylan only finds out when he returns to his family home to find it for sale and has to track those two down (on his motorcycle, because he’s a bad boy but actually better adjusted than the rest of his family).
What else do we know about the pilot? Well, there’s a rape; shy little thing that he is, Norman winds up getting befriended by a quartet of girls; and his first experience with his sexuality is sneaking a look at some manga filled with images of “young, Asian girls in various states of sexual slavery.” Eek. It’s a good thing Dylan is returning in subsequent episodes, because Norman clearly needs a strong male role model!
Max has had plenty of practice playing a disturbed young man in the upcoming horror thriller House at the End of the Street, so I’m interested to see him as the more normal member of this trio.
And of course I’ve forgotten the biggest change: The show is set in modern-day. So expect the usual teen angst of trying out for the track team, getting a boner in class, online bullying via Facebook, and texting with parents. Maybe that’s what sends Norman over the edge, his mother’s inability to write a proper text message.
Photos: Lia Toby/WENN.com and Relativity Media