After the explosive events that occurred in the first season of Bates Motel, things are only going to keep getting tougher and more dangerous for Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), especially with the economic livelihood of the motel being threatened. On top of that, Dylan’s (Max Thieriot) business is in a precarious position, Norma’s brother (Kenny Johnson) is in town, and there are new love interests for the characters.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Olivia Cooke (who plays quirky teenager Emma Decody) talked about what most surprised her about Emma’s journey in Season 1, what she most enjoys about playing this character, how anxious she is to get tidbits of information about what’s to come, the status of Emma’s friendship with Norman, how close Emma is getting to Norma, what Emma’s new love interest will be like, that Emma will have a scare involving her Cystic Fibrosis, and that she’d love to see Emma caught up in a murder. She also talked about her work in the upcoming feature films The Quiet Ones, a horror movie about a university physics professor who assembles a team to help create a poltergeist, and the thriller Ouija. Check out our Olivia Cooke interview after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
OLIVIA COOKE: I was very surprised that Emma started working at the motel. I was really thrilled when I heard that. I was like, “Oh, that’s great. She’ll be more embedded into the Bates family.” And when she got stoned, that was awesome. That was fun.
What have you enjoyed most about playing Emma?
COOKE: I’ve enjoyed her eccentricities. In life, I’m pretty low-key and quite non-descript. But Emma is so eccentric. She’s so emotionally available, all the time. She wears her heart on her sleeve. Having Cystic Fibrosis has made her a lot more open. Time is of the essence. There’s no point beating around the bush. She just states it as it is. I love that in her. That’s so great to play.
After how things were left, at the end of Season 1, were you anxious to learn where Season 2 would go and what her journey would be?
COOKE: Definitely! I was like, Will she go back to Norman? Will there be someone else? If she goes back to Norman, I’m gonna be really pissed off at her ‘cause she shouldn’t let people treat her like that. I’m quite protective.
Did the writers and producers give you any indication of what her journey would be this season, or do you have to find out with each script?
COOKE: No, not at all. I have to find out as it goes. Sometimes they’ll say something like, “Oh, if it goes to Season 3, then here’s a little thing that might happen.” And I’m like, “But, I want to know about now. I don’t care about Season 3, that this moment in time.”
Where is Emma at, at this point?
COOKE: I think she’s just trying to get over things, as best as possible. There’s still a bit of bitterness because she has to see Norman every day at school and at the motel. So, she has to just eat some humble pie and get over it. She’s very cold and very clinical toward Norman. It’s just friendly small talk.
Having had a season of this show behind you, did this season feel any different? Did it feel like revisiting and old friend, or were there new discoveries, as well?
COOKE: There was a very different feel because we shot it in the summer. Instead of all these moody, dark, foreboding images, it was very light and the motel had a revamp. It all felt quite positive, but then it was juxtaposed with all these crazy things happening around us.
As these characters fall further and further into the abyss, is it fun to be the one nice, sympathetic character on the show?
COOKE: It is! But also, I feel like I’m being left out sometimes. I’m like, “I wanna do some crazy stunt where I get hit by a truck or jump off a bridge, or something.”
Will Emma and Norman’s friendship get back on track, or will they drift further apart?
COOKE: It’s very much up and down with Norman and Emma. Something may happen that brings them together, but then when they’re on the precipice of friendship again, something happens where they’re pulled apart. It’s just very strained between them.
One of the great things about Emma working at the motel is that there’s been some really fun interaction between her and Norma. Will we get to see more of that, this season?
COOKE: For sure! There are so many awkward questions that Emma asks Norma. She sees Norma as a mother figure, so she feels very open towards her and like she can ask her questions that she would have asked her mother, if she was around. So, Norma has to step in as this motherly figure for this girl who’s never had a mother. It’s pretty funny.
At this point, would you say that Emma is closer to Norma or Norman?
COOKE: She’s definitely closer to Norma and feels like she can talk to her more, and interact and divulge information with her. As close as the Bates family is, she’s still very much on the outside. She’s never really allowed to take a step in.
Last season, there was a love triangle between Emma and Bradley and Norman, but there’s a new girl in Norman’s life, this season. Does Emma interact with her, at all?
COOKE: Yeah, we have a few interactions. What Emma learned with the whole Bradley fiasco is to just brush it off. They’re very cordial to each other. There are no big mishaps. They’re just two girls who happen to have feelings for the same boy. There is an element of respect.
Will Emma get her own love interest?
COOKE: Yeah. You’ll see Emma get it on with someone who’s not Norman.
COOKE: I think it’s definitely individual. She needs to get as much from someone as she can, so she delves into experiences. This person that comes along isn’t Norman, and she’d rather be doing it with Norman, but he is a really great person and he cares for her. He’s a really, really good second best.
Will her illness become more of an issue, at any point?
COOKE: There’s definitely a scare in the season, where her illness is prevalent again and she realizes that she’s not as invincible as she’d like to be. I think the character is everything but her illness. That is just a tiny part of her that she deals with, really well. She doesn’t let it stop her from doing things that any other girl would do.
What was your working relationship with Freddie Highmore like, this season?
COOKE: Me and Freddie got even closer this season. Because we were always working with other people, it felt so nice when me and Freddie actually got a scene together. We really relished in the fact that we’d get to spend time with each other. It was always really lovely to see him.
With Emma being around the motel, and Norma’s brother and a new love interest for Norma coming into play, do you also have contact with either or both of those characters?
COOKE: I don’t have contact with the brother. Emma is not let into that secret, right away. But she definitely comes into contact with her new love interest, and it’s very awkward for all three of them.
What’s it been like to work with Vera Farmiga?
COOKE: She’s amazing. She’s so emotionally available, all the time. She just gives it 100%, and she’s so effortless. She’s so humble, and such a real woman. I never went to drama school or studied acting, so just to see her is a lesson, in itself. It’s really, really beautiful to see.
Is there anything you’d like to see Emma get to do or go through, that she hasn’t gotten to do on the show yet?
COOKE: I’d love her to get involved in a murder that has happened at the hands of Norman and Norma. I don’t know if Emma would ever kill someone. Maybe she would, if it was for Norman. But I’d love her to be involved in it, and maybe try to hide a murder or try to dump a dead body. It’s so weird, but that would be cool.
You have The Quiet Ones coming out, and you’ve also done the Ouija movie. Are you the type of person who gets creeped out with scary movies or TV shows, and do you ever get creeped out on set?
COOKE: When I was filming Ouija, there were some elements in that that really creeped me out. The Quiet Ones was my first film, let alone my first horror film, and I had so much fun. I had such a laugh, every single day. I look like such a feral child in it. It was awesome. I loved it. I love going to watch scary movies. I love going with all of my friends and seeing them cringe in fear. I think it spoils it for me because I’m like, “Oh, I know how they did that. I wonder how they did that. I wonder how long they spend in prosthetics this morning.”
Was The Quiet Ones physically and mentally exhausting to shoot?
COOKE: Yeah. I was living in London while I was doing it, and I’d go home to my agent’s house, because I was staying there, and I’d have a new bruise or a new cut. My hair wouldn’t wash properly because it was layered with so much grease. I’d just feel so exhausted, but I’d lie down on my bed and feel like I’d just given everything that I could. It was a really good feeling.
How did doing Ouija compare to The Quiet Ones?
COOKE: My character is definitely not at all mentally challenged, as the one in The Quiet Ones is. She’s just a normal girl that stumbles on these really unfortunate circumstances and has to deal with that. She has to be the heroine in the story and try to fix what’s been broken. In that sense, it wasn’t as mentally demanding, but it was definitely physically demanding. There were a lot of stunts in it.
Do both of those films rely on the build-up of tension and scares more than they do the gore, or do they have a fair amount of gore, as well?
COOKE: It’s not really gore. There are definitely elements of psychological thriller, and they’re very character-driven. You have to rely on the actors and the music to build that tension that you need to get the audience to feel chilled and scared for these people.
Are you personally drawn to this kind of dark material?
COOKE: No. If I love the character, then that’s all that matters to me. It doesn’t really matter what genre it is. But, I think I’m definitely moving away from horror now. I think it does take its toll on you. When you’re living in that heavy, dark world for awhile, you definitely feel it.
Bates Motel airs on Monday nights on A&E.