Max Thieriot is no stranger to the screen having appeared in movies such as The House at the End of the Street, Chloe and Foreverland. The 25-year-old can currently be seen as Dylan Masser in hit A&E Network series Bates Motel.
The hit show is a modern retelling of the younger years of iconic serial killer Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his relationship with his emotionally unstable mother Norma (Vera Farmiga). For the series the new character of Dylan Masser (Max Thieriot) has been introduced as the older half-brother of Norman.
We caught up with Max to talk all things Bates Motel, discuss his character Dylan and to find out what’s in store for season 2.
Bates Motel has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD here in the UK. Tell us what the show’s all about.
The show is about the life and the early days of Norman Bates, his mom Norma and his brother Dylan. It’s about the three of them living together and it’s basically the progression of Norman Bates and why he became the psycho we know him to be now.
What attracted to getting involved in the show in the first place?
For me Psycho is such an important piece of film for our industry. Hitchcock is a huge icon in this industry as well so that was the initial interest. Vera (Farmiga) had already signed on and I was a big fan of her work. I think she’s just extremely talented. Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, the writers and producers of the show, had a lot of success and had written really great stuff on television so it was the whole team and the scripts were really well written.
For me the character of Dylan was different and a totally unknown element to the show. He’s something the viewer wasn’t expecting and wasn’t used to. He’s sort of a window into the life of Norma and Norman and their strange relationship and the madness that happens in their house. He was a character we had a lot of freedom in coming up with and could mould him because he is unknown and new. There was a lot I was interested in and excited about.
Retelling a popular story can go very wrong but thankfully Bates Motel gets it very right. Did you have any reservations getting involved as Psycho is such an iconic part of film history?
Yeah I did. I think it’s always a little bit nerve-wracking when you’re trying to basically be a part of something that was so great. Fortunately I was given the people who were involved and the scripts so I had a lot of confidence in what we were doing. If I didn’t then maybe I wouldn’t have been a part of it because obviously it can be a risky thing.
As you mentioned earlier Dylan is a new character in the world of Norman and Norma Bates. What are the challenges of playing a new character?
That gives us flexibility and takes a little bit of pressure off me because I’m not playing somebody who already exists. At the same time there is the added pressure of whether he will be accepted by the viewer because he’s not an original character. That’s the biggest thing you worry about because he wasn’t around in Psycho. Fortunately that hasn’t been the case so far.
When Dylan is first introduced in the show he’s established as the stereotypical bad boy but soon you realise there’s much more to him. Tell us a bit about what Dylan goes through in the first season.
You had it right there! When I first started reading the scripts I thought people were going to hate me. As I read further I realised he had a lot of redeeming qualities about him and I think it makes him that much more interesting. From right away you want to hate him but then you realise he’s not the person you think he is when he shows up or that Norma makes him out to be right away. I think it’s tough to make that transition with the audience.
Dylan is, I guess, the most normal of the family but I still wouldn’t say that he’s necessarily normal. Everyone in this family has some problems clearly; Norma is their mom. You get to realise that he’s also sensitive, he’s caring – not really compassionate – but he’s got a lot more to him than what everyone thinks.
It’s quite touching the way that Dylan forms a bond with Norman in the second half of the season. It’s almost like he’s trying to protect him from Norma isn’t it?
Exactly. I think it’s the idea that the bond between brothers is strong; even though they’re half-brothers. Dylan is jealous of Norman and the relationship he has with their mom. I think that Dylan has got into a lot of situations in his life that he wishes he hadn’t and made decisions that were poor.
Season 2 of Bates Motel is due to premiere in March in the US and it should be following here in the UK shortly after. What can fans expect from the new season for Dylan?
Season 2 is a really great season for Dylan. There’s a lot of really great stuff. The drug business has elevated and he’s still working his way up the food chain in there at a pretty fast rate. He handles stuff and gets stuff done as far as that business goes which is beneficial to him. The world becomes bigger for White Pine Bay and we meet people that we have been curious about but haven’t had chance to meet yet. The relationships between Norma, Norman and Dylan are explored more and there’s some romance with an insight into Dylan’s love life a little bit. There’s more killing and death all around town. We pick up where we left off last year and then it elevates. The stakes are higher.
What else do you have coming up this year Max aside from Bates Motel?
Nothing concrete yet. I’m in negotiations on something for one of the companies that A&E owns and it’s a Western which is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s not official yet so I can’t say any more about it. That’s kind of it right now along with Bates Motel.