TODAY   |  March 03, 2014

Vera Farmiga: ‘Bates Motel’ is ‘deeper’ in Season 2

Stars Michael Vartan and Vera Farmiga join TODAY to chat about the second season of “Bates Motel,” a TV series prequel to the horror classic “Psycho.”Farmiga calls the new season a “deeper, wackier, more intimate exploration” of severe family dysfunction.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> well, the tv series bates motel tells the story of how norman bates grew up to be a psycho as depicted in the 1960s classic that kept us all out of the shower.

>> she's best known from her 2009 film "up in the air." and michael vartan who made a name for himself in shows like "monster in law" and the hit tv show "alias." good morning.

>> good morning, guys.

>> season two, vieira, we saw in season one how the relationship between mother and son was verging on creepy. where does it pick up?

>> just a deeper, wackier more intimate exploration of that very strange dynamic of severe family dysfunction that is norma and norman. and, yeah, it's -- she's out of the gate quite positive, actually. so the tragedies of last season. she's succeeding as a moteliet.

>> you just made an interesting confession in the commercial break. you are scared out of your mind of horror movies, ghosts, all that kind of stuff. how did you end up in this role?

>> well, you know, it's make believe, thank god.

>> that's how it starts, michael.

>> but onset we used to joke how much it would cost to spend the night in the motel. no money on earth.

>> even on the set?

>> no.

>> how did you end up in this show?

>> just very fortunate to end up on the show. got a call from my agent and said there's a chance you might do a little bit on the " bates motel ." worked with vera, obviously, who is hands down the greatest actor i've ever worked with. tell anyone who will listen.

>> nice.

>> you play the love interest of norma , getting into that role. knowing in the end that norma is bat crazy. you worked that out.

>> george is a sweet soul. he doesn't know that.

>> not yet.

>> but as the season progresses, he obviously gets a few glimpses into her madness.

>> and she's nutty, she's neurotic, but she has a big heart. and kids don't come with instruction manuals.

>> oh.

>> true.

>> speaking of kids, you do have two of your own? a 3-year-old and 5-year-old.

>> i do.

>> out in vancouver with you?

>> yeah. i got the umbilical cord tightly.

>> it's one show they won't be watching.

>> no.

>> he babysits a lot for me. all the time.

>> that's convenient.

>> yeah, it's convenient.

>> co-star can babysit.

>> don't ask him.

>> i'm the only one childless. maybe on thursdays if they do martinis. we want to put your trivia to the test. are you willing? "psycho" trivia. i'll start off with the first question. what was the name of the character played by janet lee in "psycho"? the character janet lee.

>> crane?

>> yeah.

>> okay.

>> fantastic.

>> in "psycho" what was norman bates ' hobby?

>> taxidermy. you did research your characters.

>> come on, michael.

>> which character is heard the last lines of "psycho," and what did that character say? who speaks the last words in "psycho"?

>> a bird.

>> is she your character?

>> yes. it's sort of --

>> it's norma .

>> but through norman's fractured --

>> right. exactly. do you know what was said? the line?

>> i don't.

>> and they'll say --

>> wait, wait, wait. i'll let you read it in character as norma .

>> oh. and they say why, she wouldn't even harm a fly.

>> wow.

>> you know that signature head