Going Down A Dark Rabbit Hole With Vera Farmiga, Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin of “Bates Motel”


(PCM) Season 3 of the hit A&E series “Bates Motel” is off to a fantastic start and only being two episode’s in we are already on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the drama and suspense will unfold throughout the new season.

Recently, we were able to catch up with “Bates Motel” actress Vera Farmiga who plays “Norma” along with executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin to chat about the new season.

Here are few key points from our conversation:

On why Carlton Cuse chose to set both “Bates Motel” and his new series ” The Returned” in the Northwest. 

Carlton Cuse: “I think the physical environment is a big part of both shows. And while the second season Bates was sort of warm and summery, you know, Kerry and I felt very strongly that we should go back to a sort of bleaker, more monochromatic winter, late fall look for Season 3 of Bates and that it was narratively appropriate.

You know, for “The Returned”, the physical environment, the presence of nature; the kind of overwhelming influence of nature is I think a big part of the storytelling. It just, you know, there’s this really weird phenomenon that’s happening. And it – I think it – I think kind of metaphorically using nature to represent that there are forces much larger than our characters was an important part of the storytelling.”

On Norma’s sense of personal growth throughout Season Two carrying over into Season Three

Kerry Ehrin: “I think Norma’s whole plan in going to White Pine Bay was to have a normal life. And it – although she had a hell of a lot of trouble since she got there, it has forced her to have to deal with a lot and interact with a lot of people and find parts of herself that were stronger than she probably ever knew. And that actually has had the affect of making her stronger.”

Vera Farmiga: It’s pretty nutty to see now what we explore with this character this season like the height of righteousness that she possesses and the depths of manipulation and depravity almost that she is capable of. And there just is so many antics and adventures for me to explore.”

On knowing Norma knowing about Norman’s blackout’s and ever allowing him to be part of the regular world again.

Vera Farmiga: “I mean you’re going to see a more unraveled Norma this year. You know, I mean there’s mammoth stress in dealing with Norman’s mental state, you know. It has a whopping physical and emotional torn toll on Norma the way it would on any parent of a quote unquote special needs child.

And I think following the events of last season, Norma is more aware, she’s more circumspect, she’s more attentive to Norman’s fragility. I think you’re going to see her playing I think her cards really close to her chest in the beginning of the season but she’s got to reach out. She’s as protective of him as ever and determined to help him out as best she can. But she doesn’t always know how. And I think she’s going to start reaching out to others. And they’re going to I think that relationship evolves as they allow more people in their lives. And you’re going to see how the mother son bond kind of withstands that – those pressures.”

On upcoming guest star Joshua Leonard and the role in which he will be playing in “Bates Motel”

Vera Farmiga: “Norma’s determined to make her business a success. And so she starts enrolling in business classes at the local community college. And so there she meets James Finnegan. And he kind of launches her into a whole new path of discovery. James – I rooted for Joshua to get this role. It was a very interesting and bazaar dynamic between the two of us. I – it’s a character that Norma bonds intensely with. And, you know, he’s just – he’s phenomenal. And it was a – but I – I’m not going to – it was a quirky experience to embarking on. We were so close and this is just a weird twist.”

Carlton Cuse: “Kerry and I strive to create characters who are quirky and odd but yet believable within our sort of larger than life pulpy world of White Pine Bay.

And he did – Joshua did such an incredibly great job of fitting that mold exactly. He’s odd but he’s really compelling. And over the course of a few episodes, I think the audience will find themselves incredibly engaged in this relationship with these two characters as it starts to deepen and unfold.”

Bates2On keeping both the characters of Norma and Norman so fresh and innovative. 

Vera Farmiga: “It’s a great acting challenge for me and Freddie as well. And I think, you know, as they sort of head towards what seemingly is going to be their inevitable Hades, you know, these emotional scenes also come at such high frequency and duration that sometimes I honestly am just sort of running out of ideas.

And it’s, you know, it’s really interesting the closeness and the best friendship and the respect and the trust between Freddie and myself. From an acting perspective, it’s just – it’s really intense work. And Freddie has become really particularly adept at sort of instigating me and knowing my soft spots emotionally and treading like a bulldozer over them.

And it’s like in this last season in particular he can be a real prick when it comes to helping like that endurance and the emotional (earnesty). But I’m going to say it’s hard. It’s hard. But it’s like it really is – it comes down to what Freddie and I have together as colleagues and as team players, you know.

And there’s so much trust that we can get pretty wily with each other. And certainly that goes for the entire cast and with every year. We just draw nearer and dearer to each other and can push each other’s limits. And we push each other’s for better, for more, for deeper.”

Kerry Ehrin: “Carlton and I like to change up the storytelling a lot. And so, you know, you are telling a very intimate story of two people over a very specific and somewhat small period of time. So it does require a lot of thought about how is this going to be different.

And I think what personally is so fascinating is that it is a psychological thriller. And you can, you know, if you – if you’re in a bad marriage let’s say for like two years, every single day is going to be specific and different and fascinating. And it’s going to feed into what happens the next day.

So I think the joy of it is getting under that and playing with it and exploring it so that it’s constantly growing and moving forward, you know, in ways that surprise use because as Carlton and I like to be surprised.”

On what the ingredients are that make “Bates Motel” so special.

Vera Farmiga: “There is so much darkness and yet so much humor watching these characters navigate in some ludicrously improbable situations, you know. But that’s what makes it for me so exhilarating.

You know, yes, it’s acute, it’s intense, it’s agonizing most of the time but it’s balanced so beautifully. There’s a lot of joy and beauty and friendship and love.”

Carlton Cuse: “The label of the show would be that it’s about a guy who’s growing up to become a serial killer but we strive really, really hard to, you know, provide, you know, to make it feel so, you know, human and real and part of that is humor.

And I think that that’s something that really the sort of the humor and heart of our show is what distinguishes it from other shows in the genre.”

On if we will be seeing more of Norman beginning to manifest himself as Norma throughout this season.

Carlton Cuse: “We try to make the relationship between Norma and Norman different every season. And, you know, we’re watching a progression here. And we are, you know, it’s the story about a mother and who desperately loves her son and is trying to prevent him from becoming this guy that’s he inevitably going to become.

And this season he starts to slide much more significantly into that character. He becomes less able to the kind of modulator or be conscious of his decline. And that causes, you know, just really serious consequences in his relationship with his mom. And, you know, I think we explore that in a lot of different ways and, you know, it’s – and we – and that’s really the journey of the season.”

On whether or not Dylan’s opinion about Norma and Norman’s behavior have an effect on the way that Norma attempts to balance their relationship.

Vera Famiga: “Yes indeed. I think she’s relying on Dylan in a way that she’d never expected to. And that relationship really deepens. And they both share the same concern. They, you know, and they both want to help Norman. So I think she is relying on him, you know, for a male perspective on how to care for Norman. And that’s going to trigger somebody something they’ll in Norman.”

On what was the biggest challenge going into Season Three

Carlton Cuse: “I think that we work hard on the, you know, the kind of the crime story aspect of the show is something that, you know, kind of trying to have – the show for us is just a cocktail of super nuance, the character writing combined with this intentionally pulpy crime drama.

And so getting that right is something that, you know, is really hard to do. And, you know, we have this character of Chick Hogan who played by Ryan Hurst is, you know, is a very – was like a very dangerous character for us to create because he’s right on the edge of being ridiculous or being terrifying. And that was something that I think we were very nervous about being able to pull off. And, you know, I think we got on the right side of the line.”

Bates4On the roles of other upcoming guest stars this season such as Kevin Rahm and Tracy Spiridakos.

Kerry Ehrin: “Kevin Rahm plays a White Pine Bay local, a prominent person, wealth, affluent and somewhat of a antagonist. The really cool thing about his role is that he is someone who grew up with Alex Romero. And through the storyline this season we get to peel back some layers of Romero, which is so much fun as certainly as writers.

But it just, you know, as a viewer I think it’s going to be so interesting to get inside this incredibly stoic guarded person and see a little more of what makes them tick and what they need and what they’re hiding from themselves, you know. So that’s just been a really fun storyline.”

Carlton Cuse: “Tracy plays this sort of mysterious beautiful enigmatic woman who checks into the Bates Motel and she really becomes the catalyst for our entire crime story this season. You know, it may sort of seem at first blush that it’s, you know, kind of an obvious storyline out of the movie Psycho but that’s not – it doesn’t turn out to be that way at all.

And but, you know, we really – we – we’re sort of – we’re sort of teasing Norman’s confused, you know, sort of sexual perspective. And, you know, the – her fate and, you know, her whole back story is sort of the big mystery that sort of drives our plot and our narrative over the course of the, you know, the season.”

On the eventual ending of the series

Carlton Cuse: “We have it mapped out for five seasons. Kerry and I have a pretty clear roadmap. So we – we’re just finishing the third season right now and, you know, we feel pretty strongly that there’s two more seasons in the show and, you know, we have a pretty, you know, we have a pretty clear plan of where we want to go and we want to bring this story to its inevitable conclusion.”

On Bradley’s return to White Pine Bay this season

Kerry Ehrin: “It’s not what you would expect it to be. It’s – we get to see what Bradley has been through since we last saw her, which was pretty daunting. And she’s kind of on a journey of her own in returning back to White Pine Bay. But it does not directly intersect with Dylan.”

On how this season of “Bates Motel” could be described in eight words or less.

Kerry Ehrin: “Going down a dark rabbit hole”

Vera Farmiga: “Going to leave our audience open mouthed and panting”

On what there is going to be more of this season .. sex, drugs or murder?

Vera Farmiga: “Murder.”

Kerry Ehrin: “I think that the story I mean just if you look at Psycho it’s like we’re telling the prequel of that and the story of someone sinking into insanity is – if you put it on a graph, it has to get more and more intense and crazy and weird as they sink further into it. You know. So yes. We’re definitely getting into a very meaty part of the storytelling. And, you know, it’s very exciting part of the storytelling.

Vera Farmiga: “There’s in all sort of sex, drugs and rock and roll there’s wicked bombshells thrown this year. There’s some pretty rude awakening to be had. There’s some flabbergasting shakeups. But I can’t tell you what they are. But yes, there’s going to be some extermination, some butchery, some crazy absurdity, yes.”

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Ryan Hurst Checks In To Bates Motel Season 3

(A&E) Former Sons of Anarchy stars Ryan Hurst and Kenny Johnson reunite! Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst) is Dylan’s intimidating new neighbor who is first introduced in episode 2 (Monday, March 16th at 9pm). While Dylan(Max Thieriot) tries to make a fresh start, Chick will complicate things with his illegal firearms business. Chick will become further entangled in Dylan’s life when he butts heads with Caleb (Kenny Johnson)—who has returned to White Pine Bay without Norma’s knowledge.


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Ground-breaking New Trailer Give Us A Look At Bates Motel Season Three


(A&E) A&E has put together a ground-breaking new trailer for Season Three of Bates Motel which will premiere on March 9th at 9pm. The network partnered with artist and photographer, Steven Sebring to develop the art and technology behind the piece and this marks the first use of it in a broadcast.

The technology uses 100 cameras and covers 360 degrees and features stars Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. The goal was to tap into the show’s roots while also conveying Norman’s transformation into his Norma persona.

The trailer is underscored by the haunting song “Mama’s Gonna Give You Love” by Emily Wells.

What’s coming up in Season Three

“Bates Motel,” returns for a gripping third season filled with family strife, murder and mystery lead by Vera Farmiga (Norma) and Freddie Highmore (Norman). This season focuses on the evolution of the Bates family and dives head first into Norman’s waning ability to stay in denial about what’s happening to him and the lengths he will go to gain control of his fragile psyche. The dramatic events of last season leaves Norma (Vera Farmiga) reluctantly more aware of Norman’s mental fragility and is fearful of what he is capable of. From executive producers Carlton Cuse (“Lost,” “The Returned”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) “Bates Motel” serves as a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film Psycho and provides viewers with an intimate portrayal of how Norman Bates unravels through his teenage years.

After a blissful summer of closeness with his mother, living within the safe confines of home and the Bates Motel, Norman’s fears about what really happened with Blaire Watson resurface and Norma questions what really happened. Forced to look at the truths about Norman for the first time, their deeply intricate relationship continues to evolve. Norma finds herself turning to the other man in her life, Norman’s half-brother, Dylan (Max Thieriot) and begins to rely on him in ways that she never expected. This relationship inevitably triggers jealousy in Norman and a new kind of love triangle between Norma and her two sons erupts. Estranged brother and uncle, Caleb (Kenny Johnson) returns to haunt the family throughout the season challenging the family bond even further.

Pressures of the outside world take a hold of the family when newcomers Kevin Rahm (“Mad Men,” “Desperate Housewives”), Tracy Spiradakos (“Revolution”) and Ryan Hurst (“Sons of Anarchy”) arrive at White Pine Bay. After a summer of living at the Bates Motel, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Norma have grown closer but there will always have that troubling question mark surrounding Norman. Something doesn’t feel right, but spite of his instincts, Romero finds himself continually drawn back to the Bates family — and to Norma. Emma (Olivia Cooke) also determined to find out what is happening to Norman becomes more emboldened, fearless, goes after the things she wants. Familiar face, Bradley (Nicola Peltz) returns to surprise the family and digs up old memories.

After the Season Three premiere of Bates Motel be sure to stay tuned in for the series premiere of A&E’s new series The Returned at 10pm ET/PT.

About The Returned:

“The Returned,” from executive producers Carlton Cuse (“Lost,” “Bates Motel”) and Raelle Tucker (“True Blood”), focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people, who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, bringing with them both positive and detrimental consequences. As families are reunited, the lives of those who were left behind are challenged on a physical and emotional level. Interpersonal relationships are examined with intrigue and depth as strange phenomena begin to occur. “The Returned” is based on the popular and International Emmy®-award winning French suspense series adapted by Fabrice Gobert and inspired by the feature film, Les Revenants, directed by Robin Campillo.

“The Returned” stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Smashed), Mark Pellegrino (“Lost”) , Jeremy Sisto (“Suburgatory,” “Six Feet Under”), India Ennenga (“Treme”), Sandrine Holt (“House of Cards”), Agnes Bruckner (“24”), Sophie Lowe (“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”), Tandi Wright (“Nothing Trivial“), Mat Vairo (“Revolution”), Kevin Alejandro (“True Blood”), Dylan Kingwell (“The Tomorrow People”), Aaron Douglas (“Battlestar Galactica”), Dakota Guppy (“Rush”), Leah Gibson (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), Michelle Forbes (“The Killing”), Rhys Ward (“The Strain”), Scott Hylands (“V”), Terry Chen (“Bates Motel”), Roger Cross (“24”).

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Intervention To Return In 2015

(LMN) LMN has ordered an all-new season of the Emmy-winning and critically acclaimed docuseries Intervention, it was announced today by Jana Bennett, President, FYI & LMN. The series, to be produced by the original producers GRB Entertainment, profiles people whose uncontrollable addiction to drugs, alcohol or compulsive behavior has brought them to the brink and follows them as they are presented with the life-changing opportunity of an intervention and rehab.

“Over the course of 13 seasons on A&E, Intervention wove itself into the fabric of pop culture and brought global awareness to addiction and treatment options,” said Bennett. “The stories profiled on this series are profoundly powerful and we are proud to continue it on LMN.”

Production will begin this summer and the series is slated to air in first quarter of 2015. Original interventionists Jeff Van Vonderen and Candy Finnigan will return.

Twice nominated and in 2009 awarded the Emmy® for Outstanding Reality Series, the five-time PRISM Award-winning series Intervention brings attention to the enormous social, economic and environmental cost of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and compulsive behavior. Each episode follows addicts through their daily life and the devastation their dependency has brought to their family and friends. Upon reaching the brink, their loved ones stage a surprise intervention conducted by a drug addiction specialist. In the end, they are pushed to get the help they so desperately need with the hope of turning their lives around before it’s too late.

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Wahlburgers Season Two

Whalb(A&E) In the new season of Wahlburgers Mark, Donnie, Paul and Alma are joined by an additional cast of characters, including Wahlberg brothers Arthur and Bob, their nephew Brandon and special guest, New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski.  “Wahlburgers” returns with nine all-new episodes on Wednesday, August 13 at 10pm ET/PT on A&E.

Wahlburgers goes behind-the-scenes of one of Boston’s most well-known families, the Wahlbergs.  Brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul join forces to embark on a hometown-based business venture, a hamburger restaurant that touts the family name.  An homage to their humble beginnings, the restaurant is home base for the gang from the old neighborhood, including Mark’s sidekicks, the real Johnny “Drama” and Henry “Nacho” Laun, Paul’s trusty assistant Kari Burke and of course, the matriarch of the Wahlberg family, their spirited mother Alma.

In the new season, Mark and Donnie juggle their roles at the restaurant while working abroad.  Mark heads to China to promote a film and convinces “Drama” and “Nacho” to tag along.  Donnie is on tour in London with New Kids On The Block when his fiancée Jenny McCarthy arranges for a surprise visitor to help stave off his homesickness.  Back in Boston, Paul gets in over his head when he decides to join a fantasy football league, so he seeks help from family friend Rob Gronkowski.  Brandon finds himself caught in a prank war with Kari, while Alma has a new love in her life – her new smartphone.

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A&E Network To Expand Into Africa & Europe

AEA&E will launch in German-speaking Europe, Iberia and Africa in the fall, announced Dean Possenniskie, Managing Director, EMEA, A+E Networks.  The channel will premiere to 10 million households across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and Portuguese-speaking Africa, following a rebrand from BIO.

A&E is home to original content that inspires and challenges audiences to Be Original.  The channel offers a diverse mix of high-quality, uniquely immersive entertainment with signature nonfiction franchises including Wahlburgers, Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, Barry’d Treasure, Bad Ink and Big Smo.  A&E will also feature locally-commissioned productions and local acquisitions.

“These A&E launches will significantly strengthen our channel portfolio across German-speaking Europe, Iberia and Africa,” said Possenniskie.  “In the US, A&E is recognized as a leading creator of quality content that features one-of-a-kind characters and fresh, innovative storytelling.  We are very pleased to bring this acclaimed programming to a wider audience in EMEA.”

The launch marks the debut of A&E in Africa, and follows the brand’s European debut in France in November 2013.  The rebrand of BIO to A&E in German-speaking Europe is scheduled for late September, while Iberia and Africa will rebrand in early October.

A&E first launched in the US in February 1984, and is a top 10 pay-TV channel with A25-54.  Worldwide, A&E is currently available in over 75 countries.

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