'Bates Motel:' Vera Farmiga defends 'valiant' Norma

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol


6:09 PM CST, March 2, 2014


The "cocktail of madness and maternity that is Norma Bates" may seem like a psycho, but "Bates Motel" star Vera Farmiga defends her character.

"I admire her tenacious love for her child," the Emmy nominee told me during a conference call for the show's second season. "She goes to extreme lengths to give her child the life that she imagines for him. And that is really valiant to me."

In the first season of A&E's modern-day "Psycho" prequel, those lengths included moving across the country to run a motel in White Pine Bay, Ore., just to give oddball Norman (Freddie Highmore) a better life. Oh, and she lied, seduced, cajoled and even killed to protect him.

"Yes, there is the flip side of Norma Bates. Her hardware is working; her software is a bit faulty," Farmiga admitted, laughing. "Look, she does wrap Norman in bubble wrap all the time.

"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."

An uptick in the motel's bookings may have Norma feeling more optimistic as the new season begins at 8 p.m. March 3, but she'll circle the wagons even closer when a series of stressors exacerbate Norma's own neuroses. Construction on the bypass that threatens to stop traffic to her motel is proceeding. Norman is spending way too much time in his basement taxidermy workshop. Her estranged brother, Caleb Calhoun (Kenny Johnson), comes knocking on her door, which Farmiga said will bring up "poisonous feelings."

And there's the question of whether Norman killed his high school teacher, Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy).

Despite meeting Christine Heldens (Rebecca Creskoff), her first friend outside her relationship with Norman, and being open to romance with George Heldens (Michael Vartan), Norma still is preoccupied with Norman.

"Imagine it for yourself," Farmiga said, "the faint-heartedness, the doom, when you discover or suspect that there's something not quite right neurologically with your child. It's not a job for the faint-hearted, so every ounce of energy is her struggle with raising Norman as a typical child, doing it as single parent."

Farmiga believes Norma is doing the best she can. The actress, who with her musician husband Renn Hawkey has two children, 5-year-old son Finn and 3-year-old daughter Gita, says Norma's negative qualities help her to be a better parent.

Being a parent and wife, she added, keeps her grounded and relaxed while playing Norma.

"There's so much pardon from work in the love of my husband and children," she said. "I'm a very lucky woman. My home life is storybook. My kids are so cool. And my husband is so hot and gorgeous and cool and loving. But honestly I just fall into their arms. And it's all good."

Farmiga and "Bates Motel" executive producer Kerry Ehrin answered a variety of questions from reporters during the conference call. Find more of their answers after teh video below.



Vera Farmiga

Kerry Ehrin

Want more? Discuss this article and others on Show Patrol's Facebook page