“Psycho” protagonist Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, on the big screen once said, “I think I must have one of those faces you can’t help believing.” Season two of the small screen adaptation “Bates Motel” premiering on A&E at 9pm on Monday, March 3rd, will test this statement after he becomes a person of interest in the murder of his teacher Miss Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy). Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) suspects Norman, played by British actor Freddie Highmore, knows more about her demise than he’s letting on.
We spoke to Carbonell ahead of Monday’s premiere to find out how successful Sheriff Romero will be at avoiding Norma’s (Vera Farmiga) charms, how the drug trade storyline will be amplified, and whether or not he’s afraid his character could die at any moment.
Romero is a very mysterious and intriguing character. Will we find out what drives him this season?
“I’ve been very intrigued by the character myself ever since Carlton [Cuse], who I had the great pleasure of working with on “Lost,” called me to join the show as the sheriff. He sent me the first six scripts and I was blown away by the story and the character. [Romero] is sort of enigmatic, but as you will see more of in season two, struggles with his moral center. On the one hand, this is a guy who has to juggle allowing the town to survive off of the drug trade, and on the other hand enforce some level of law that he can, and certainly the town, live by. You’ll see his conscience, definitely tested this season in a number of ways. I don’t want to give away too much but he will certainly be tested within the drug trade and also as it pertains to Norman and Norma Bates.”
Season one was focused on the Bates family. Where will the storyline go in season two?
“I loved the emphasis last season on the family—- the triumvirate of Norma, Norman, and Dylan (Max Thieriot). It was a beautiful exploration of this highly dysfunctional family. Now in the second season, it really opens up the world of the town and you’ll see all the machinations behind the drug trade and who the real power players are. Also how Norman, Norma and Dylan assimilate further into the town. There are a lot of great actors coming in as guest stars and they will show how things are run and how the Bates family navigates in those crazy waters.”
No one is safe from Norma's charms, not even her son Norman. Will Romero fall for her too?
"What Vera brings to Norma, and every character I've ever seen her play, is above and beyond what exists on the page. It's a beautifully written role by Carlton and Kerry [Ehrin]. She's an extremely complex character, and one of the things that Vera brings to it is an incredible warmth and empathy that only certain actors can bring to a role like that. You can't help but root for her and yet you know that the relationship she has with her son is just so highly inappropriate so often! [laughs] But you're still drawn to her and that's really the power of who Vera is as an actor and as a person. She's pretty incredible and it's a joy to work with her.
But yeah, everyone falls under her spell and Romero is no different. He's a little tough on the exterior so he's a little harder to crack but he is at once mystified by her strength especially in this town where things only run one way. She seems to go the other way and he finds himself mystified by how strong and stubborn she is but he's also taken by it as well. He's admired by it. You'll see in season two that there will be a lot of give and take between the characters and perhaps a little bit of attraction-- we shall see."
With so much delinquent behavior going on around town, doesn’t Romero feel the responsibility to bring in arrests?
"You have to take every case individually. I think Romero really has his own code-- a moral code-- and so with the sex trade case, he had to take matters into his own hands. But I think in his mind he justifies those as proper ways to deal with that level of crime. With Norman, it's a totally different scenario because now we're dealing with the death of the teacher. We don't know if he has killed her, we're not sure, he was seen last with her. That will certainly be explored very quickly early this season and throughout. Without giving anything away, you'll see how this affects Romero in a different way than perhaps other murders he might justify."
Isn’t he afraid he might end up dead like all the others who have crossed the Bates?
"I think the actor playing Romero is afraid! [laughs] So I have now befriended Freddie Highmore, we've become very close friends, and he has assured me that even if it is scripted, he will not kill my character. I have two kids and mouths to feed so he will not do that to me!"
"Look, no one is immune to Norman or Norma for that matter, even Dylan Massett, so who knows? We're all susceptible, we're all vulnerable. I love this show and I love playing Romero with this amazing cast. I love working with Carlton and Kerry and I wish that it would go on forever. I know the story will have to play out as they see fit and I just hope to do it justice. I'd also like to stick around as long as possible."
For a sneak peek into what will happen in season two, check out the trailer below: