By one line of thinking (mine), "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was the best movie of 2005, a peak moment for director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman and actor Johnny Depp. And in the title role was the thoroughly likable Freddie Highmore ... the same actor who now brings shivers as Norman Bates in "Bates Motel." The show starts its season Monday (March 7); here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
Freddie Highmore has
already been pure good and pure evil. The rest of his career should
be easy, just filling in the in-between stuff.
The good came first.
At 13, he starred in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005),
playing the only kid worthy to enter Willy Wonka's wonderful world.
And the evil is
right now. At 24, he's starting the fourth season of “Bates Motel.”
This is the “Psycho”
prequel. It's the show that asks, as producer Carlton Cuse has put
it: “How does Norman Bates become the guy who's in that movie?”
At first, he did it
slowly, as a shy and teen; now, however, “Bates” is gathering
speed. “It sort of races toward that end point now,” Highmore
said. “He's becoming more like the Norman Bates that we kow.”
As last season
ended, Norman (who had temporartily transformed into his mother)
committed murder. There's more horror ahead; fortunately, Highmore
has also seen the pleasant side of life.
Born on a Feb. 14 --
“at least, you know you'll always have something to do on
Valentine's Day” -- he grew up in British show business. His dad,
Edward, is a successful actor; his mom is an agent whose clients
include his friend, Daniel Radcliffe.
Freddie is three
years younger than Radcliffe, which he says was enough to avoid any
sense of competition. “When you're young, the difference between a
13-year-old and a 16-year-old is big.”
Highmore was only 9
when Radcliffe landed the Harry Potter role. His own breaks came four
years later: He did “Finding Neverland” with Johnny Depp, who
then recommended him as his “Charlie” co-star. “What's so
amazing about Johnny is that he doesn't see himself as a star,”
There were other
movies, big (“August Rush,” “Spiderwick Chronicles”) and
small. And then “Bates.”
This season, that
leads into a new show (“Damien”), in which Damien Thorn learns
he's the antichrist. These sound like demanding roles, but Bradley
James (the “Damien” star), insists he enjoys the work. “I had a
lot of fun” making the pilot, he said.
But “fun” is
relative; “Bates” films in Vancouver. “It rains the whole
time,” Highmore said back in the show's first seasion. “It's
almost quite nice for the show, because you have that darkness.”
Highmore insists his
child-star days were pleasant enough: “You're always around other
children .... It's anything but lonely.”
But as a young
Englishman in Vancouver, he could easily become lonely. Fortunately,
Vera Farmiga, who plays his mother, has a home there. “I guess
we've become best of friends in Vancouver,” he said. “Her husband
and their kids let me go out with them.”
Those kids, ages 7
and 5, are lucky to know the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
guy. Knowing Norman Bates may be another matter.
-- “Bates Motel,”
9 p.m. Mondays, A&E.
-- Season-opener is
March 7. That day, there will be reruns from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,
plus a “Bates” recap at 8:45 p.m.; “Damien” debuts at 10.
-- The “Bates”
season-opener reruns that night at 12:16 a.m.; also, at 3 p.m.
Tuesday and 4 p.m. Sunday (March 8 and 13)