'Bates Motel': Will it be a well-received prequel to the 'Psycho' legend?

As director Gus Van Sant learned when he remade the film, taking on the classic Hitchcock film 'Psycho' is no easy task. How will the A&E series 'Bates Motel,' a prequel about Norman Bates and his mother, fare?

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
'Bates Motel' stars Vera Farmiga (l.) and Freddie Highmore (r.).

Before the movie “Psycho” was in theaters and after its release, director Alfred Hitchcock went to extreme lengths to preserve the secrecy of its twist ending, from telling stars Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh not to do interviews to forbidding latecomers from going into screenings of the movie and asking for signs to be put in theater lobbies requesting that moviegoers not spoil the plot for their friends.

But sorry, Hitch, the secret’s out – Norman Bates and his best friend (his mother) are now indelible parts of pop culture. Are there any secrets left to dig up about the antihero?

Director Tucker Gates says yes. He's helming the new TV series “Bates Motel,” which will air on A&E starting March 18. The show will star “Up in the Air” actress Vera Farmiga as Mrs. Bates (her first name is Norma Louise), while “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” actor Freddie Highmore will play the young version of Hitchcock’s memorably spooky character.

Ten episodes have been ordered for the first season. Other cast members signed on for the show include Nicola Peltz as Bradley Kenner, Olivia Cooke as Emma and Max Thieriot as Dylan Massett. (Your guess is as good as ours who they are.) “Lost” actor Nestor Carbonell will appear as Sheriff Royce Romero and Mike Vogel of “The Help” will play Zach Shelby.

The show “promises to give viewers an intimate portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years,” according to A&E. “Fans will have access to the dark, twisted backstory and learn first hand just how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma, truly is and how she helped forge the most famous serial killer of them all.”

Farmiga told USA Today that when she started acting as Norma, the actress “want[ed] to defend what she does,” she said. “She's a beautiful portrait of valiant maternity... at the same time she's an absolute train wreck.”

Psycho” came out in 1960 and was remade in a critically savaged adaptation by director Gus Van Sant in 1998 in which actor Vince Vaughn starred as Norman and Anne Heche played Marion Crane. Will “Motel” be a better-received take on the Norman Bates legend?

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