Hi Freddie! Norman’s a very intense character, to say the least. How do you switch off from the show?
“There’s never any sense of carrying Norman with me off set. I love to watch football, but we film in Vancouver so the times are a bit bizarre. It’s become a guilty pleasure as I have to get up at 5am on a Saturday to catch those key, unmissable Arsenal games.”
As a Brit in an American show, how have you nailed the accent?
“I try to stay in the accent as much as possible when I’m out and about in Vancouver. There’s one other Brit on the show – Olivia Cooke [who plays Norman’s best friend Emma Decody]. We maintain our Britishness from afar.”
You seem like a lovely guy – how do you prepare for such a gruelling role?
“I’ve read the book and I re-watch the film before the start of every season. Anthony Perkins’ performance is so iconic. There’s certainly no attempt to mimic exactly what he has done. We’re free to start the story afresh.”
What do we have to look forward to this season?
“I think what’s great about this season is the building of the character of the mother. At the end of season three, there is a scene when we see Norman get out of the car and morph visually into Norma [Vera Farmiga]. We have more of those scenes this season. It was fun working with Vera and building that character together. It was the first time I have ever built a character with someone.”
What’s your relationship like with Vera off-screen?
“Great! Her husband and kids are my family out here in Vancouver. We’re very close.”
And you’ve had a go at writing this series?
“I wrote the eighth episode of this season. I spent some time in the writers’ room in LA. It was good fun. I’m very thankful to the producers for giving me that chance. It feels odd putting so much into the character for five months but having nothing to do with the development of a character that you have been so close to. It was great to feel that constant involvement as opposed to this slightly artificial in and out.”
So what’s next?
“There’s one more season of Bates Motel. I’ve got a couple of projects that I filmed last year. I’ve got an independent film called The Journey with Timothy Spall [about the Northern Ireland Troubles], and a BBC Two mini-series called Close To The Enemy [also starring Phoebe Fox and Alfie Allen].”
You’re one of an elite group of child stars who haven’t gone off the rails. What’s your secret?
“As a kid it’s detrimental to not have a childhood and a normal life. You need to leave the bubble of work, keep going to school and have your friends. I’ve continued that separation between a private and a public life. I don’t have a Twitter account. It’s so much harder to maintain privacy when you encourage a certain familiarity with people that you don’t know.”
And finally, are you still in touch with your Finding Neverland and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory co-star, Johnny Depp?
“Yes – he’s wonderful. We’ve always remained incredibly close. He must be the most famous person in my phonebook. I don’t have President Obama on speed dial.”
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