One of the highlights of this past television season was A&E’s new drama “Bates Motel.” Inspired by Norman Bates, the sympathetic fictional madman created by novelist Robert Bloch and thrust into pop culture and horror history by director Alfred Hitchcock and star Anthony Perkins…
…“Bates Motel” is a contemporary prequel to the events portrayed in the original book and the classic 1960 film.
Now, to celebrate the first season’s release onto Blu-ray and DVD today, September 17th, series star Nestor Carbonell joins Dread Central for a discussion of his character (potentially treacherous small town sheriff Alex Romero), the first season, and what we can look forward to in the upcoming Season Two.
Dread Central: Can you tell us a bit about your casting in ”Bates Motel”? Was Sheriff Romero a role you pursued or you were approached with?
Nestor Carbonell: I got a call from Carlton Cuse, whom I’d had the privilege of working with on “Lost”. He sent me the first six scripts and I was up all night reading them. I couldn’t put ’em down. I was thrilled to get the offer.
Dread Central: ”Bates Motel” is, of course, based upon the Psycho franchise. Were you familiar with either Robert Bloch’s original novel or Hitchcock’s film when you were cast? Was there any excitement or apprehension for you in helping to retell a classic tale?
Nestor Carbonell: I was familiar withPsycho, and when I read Carlton’s and Kerry Ehrin’s scripts, I was blown away with their take on Hitchcock’s world. But no apprehension here. It’s all about what’s on the page for me. I couldn’t wait to hit the set.
Dread Central: Throughout Season 1, Sheriff Romero is a somewhat morally elusive character – a man who may either be a by-the-book lawman or a potentially villainous sort. How early on were you made aware of the season finale’s revelation regarding your character’s ultimate stance on White Pine Bay’s criminal lot, and how did it affect your portrayal of this largely ambiguous character afterwards?
Nestor Carbonell: I was privy to more information about the Sheriff than I have been on previous shows by virtue of the fact that I got to read the first six episodes before we started production. I wasn’t aware of how the character would end up in the season finale, though. And to be fair, I still don’t ultimately know where he’s gonna land on the moral spectrum. That kind of ambiguity makes him a lot of fun to play.
Dread Central: Did you feel as though you had a relatively freer rein to create a character set within this universe (than, say, either Vera Farmiga or Freddie Highmore), given that Sheriff Romero is wholly new and not based upon a pre-existing role?
Nestor Carbonell: I didn’t rewatch Psycho before we rolled because it wasn’t a strict prequel to the film. Carlton and Kerry reimagined Hitchcock’s world in present day time with an Oedipal dynamic at the series’ core that wasn’t explored in the film. They also reimagined the town as one fueled by the drug trade, which really sets it apart from the film. So, I never felt any obligation to study the role of the sheriff from the original, since we were creating such a different world.
Dread Central: Given the final moments we spend with your character in Season 1 (wherein – SPOILER ALERT – we’re surprised to discover that Romero is apparently both incorruptible and trustworthy), what can you tell us about Romero’s journey in the upcoming season?
Nestor Carbonell: I wouldn’t assume Romero or anyone on the show is beyond corruption. Again, that’s one of the reasons I find the characters so compelling. Our characters are all continually being tested, and even the ones who may appear morally sound make questionable choices.
Dread Central: One of the many great things about the first season is the antagonistic relationship between Romero and Norma. Will that continue on into the next season, given that they parted as uneasy allies in the finale?
Nestor Carbonell: Unfortunately, there’s not much I can reveal about Norma and Romero’s dynamic, only to say that we both seem to be control freaks of some sort, which makes for a lot of conflict. And, thank you, it’s a lot of fun to trade jabs with her.
Dread Central: Romero appears to be an intelligent and shrewd investigator with good instincts. Given the inevitability of Norman’s destiny, what are the chances that Romero will eventually recognize the telltale signs that Norman is a burgeoning psychopath?
Nestor Carbonell: Again, not much I can say here. Sorry. Romero will have more contact with Norman this season, though. I think that’s about as much as I can say.
Dread Central: ”Bates Motel” acts as somewhat of a ”Lost” reunion, with yourself and Carlton Cuse collaborating again. Can you detail any similarities or differences between the two productions? Do you see any parallels between the two tales and how they’re told?
Nestor Carbonell: It’s been a great “Lost” reunion for me, not only getting to work with Carlton again, but also with producing director Tucker Gates, director of photography John Bartley, and editor Chris Nelson. All of them are insanely talented and great people. There are some similarities in the way we worked on “Lost”: Our scripts all have our names on them, for protection/security; the cast is told a little more in advance on “Bates” with respect to story – but not that much more (I’ve read Episode 7 and I have no idea how the season ends); and, as it was on “Lost”, the world outside “Bates Motel” opens up significantly in Season 2.
Dread Central: Finally – can you tell us what excites you most about the upcoming season?
Nestor Carbonell: Getting my hands on next week’s script. I’m not alone. The entire crew and cast is always buzzing about when the next one’s coming out. That, and getting to butt heads with Norma!
Dread Central: Thanks so much for your time, sir. Good luck with the upcoming season!
Special thanks to Mr. Carbonell for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to check out Season 1 of “Bates Motel” in stores NOW!
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