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posted: 3/3/2014 5:30 AM

Farmiga says 'Bates Motel' drama is only on-screen

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  • "At the beginning of season two, she thinks she's got her neuroses under control," says Vera Farmiga of her character Norma Bates in the A&E series, "Bates Motel," which returns Monday, March 3.

      "At the beginning of season two, she thinks she's got her neuroses under control," says Vera Farmiga of her character Norma Bates in the A&E series, "Bates Motel," which returns Monday, March 3.
    Associated Press File Photo

  • In real life, Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga say they have a much healthier bond than they do playing Norman and Norma Bates on A&E's "Bates Motel."

      In real life, Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga say they have a much healthier bond than they do playing Norman and Norma Bates on A&E's "Bates Motel."
    Associated Press File Photo

 
By Lauri Neff
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- In the television show "Bates Motel," Vera Farmiga's character has a dysfunctional relationship with her future serial killer son Norman, played by Freddie Highmore. In reality, Farmiga says, she and Highmore share a much healthier bond: He's even her child's godfather.

Farmiga says Highmore immediately bonded with 5-year-old Fynn in Vancouver, where "Bates Motel" is filmed and Farmiga and her family moved for the duration of the series. The Oscar-nominated actress says Highmore, whose family is in London, has become something of a surrogate son himself, playing swords and Legos with Fynn on the weekends.

Farmiga, who also has a 3-year-old daughter with her husband, musician Renn Hawkey, says Highmore has become such a fixture in Fynn's life that she and her husband decided it's "a relationship that deserves the title."

On screen, though, the relationship will not go as smoothly between Farmiga's character, Norma Bates, and her son in season two of A&E's modern-day "Psycho" prequel, which premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, March 3. Farmiga says Norma seems optimistic at the start of the season despite the violent and deadly encounters of season one, her reveal that she was sexually abused as a child and the question of whether Norman murdered his high school teacher.

"At the beginning of season two, she thinks she's got her neuroses under control," Farmiga said in a recent interview.

Norma is also open to romance again with Michael Vartan ("Alias") joining the show as her love interest.

Norma, the actress says, doesn't think she has any choice but to persevere.

"You're a single mother of this child that you feel is potentially unraveling," she said of Norman, who maintains his newfound interest in taxidermy in the hotel basement.

Anyone familiar with "Psycho" knows this is a story that doesn't end well, and Farmiga says despite Norma's attempt to put a positive spin on their lives, the situation quickly worsens. Farmiga says the teacher's death "is a big source of this orientation and terror for Norman, which in turn Norma will try to sort of solve."

And despite an upturn in business at the Bates Motel, work begins on that pesky bypass road that threatens to divert traffic away and Farmiga notes that "there's still a stigma attached to the property." Ever the optimist, Norma sets out to change people's minds and that means going into the community, and, Farmiga says, "That's going to be challenging for Norma."

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