Exclusive Interview: Nestor Carbonell on ‘Bates Motel’

Nestor Carbonell

If you’re waiting until the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Bates Motel” to catch up on the series, this interview will be a bit of a spoiler for you. 

To promote the Sept. 17 release, we got to speak with Nestor Carbonell, the actor who plays Sheriff Romero on "Bates Motel." We asked about events all the way up to the season finale, and looked ahead to season two. 

We’ll also give you a spoiler warning for “Lost” and The Dark Knight Rises which we also took the opportunity to discuss. “Bates Motel” tells the story of Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) setting up her motel with son Norman (Freddie Highmore), whom we know from the classic film Psycho. Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin created the modern day take on the Bates family for A&E. 


CraveOnline: Were you really waiting the whole first season to show how important your character really is?

Nestor Carbonell: You mean because my presence grew a lot more in the last couple episodes? 

Yes, and certainly in the finale we see how much he controls.

I did. I remember I got the call from Carlton initially to see if I’d do an arc on the show. When I told him, “Yes, I’d love to work with you guys, of course,” I think he went back to the drawing board and re-examined that role and I think about a month later I got another call saying, “Look, we want to add you to the show in a more significant way beyond just an arc.” So I think it grew from there, from that first conversation. That was my guess. 

Then he sent me the first six scripts and he said, “Look, here’s the first six. We’re writing the last four right now and your character will factor more significantly in the end of it. And then second season you’ll be a bigger part of the show as well.” So it just sort of grew I think from that but yeah, he gave me the heads up and said, “Yeah, you’re going to have something pivotal to do at the end of the season.”

Was that big confrontation between you and Norma in the police station a real turning point for you?

The one where I say I’m going to burn her down to the ground?

Yes, where you not only refuse to help her but show her you won’t take any crap.

Exactly, yeah. I remember reading that and it’s such great writing because I think the previous episode, I bailed her out. I basically said that what had happened was that I killed Keith Summers and that I killed the deputy who was corrupt and running the sex ring. So I took that on as my own thing but also to cover my own ass basically, to not get any heat for not being aware of what was going on in my town.

So on the one hand, in that episode you think, “Oh wow, he’s suddenly her ally” and then he turns around in this next episode, she tries to come to me for a favor and I turn around and say I’m not her friend and if she tries to pull any stuff on me, I’ll burn her down to the ground. I love those great character twists, and they still continue to play and I love that stuff.

Was that a great scene to do with Vera?

Oh, just about any scene is great to do with Vera. She’s obviously a phenomenal actress and really giving and gives you something different every time, so it’s always great to work with her. Yeah, that particular scene was a lot of fun to do just because she came with such a playful attitude as Norma and it was just such a great thing to have to shoot her down in such a harsh way, but it’s a lot of fun to butt heads with her in those scenes.

When do you go back for season two?

We’re shooting it now. We’re actually shooting episode five right now. I’ve read up to episode seven and I still have no clue how this season’s going to end. The twists are so amazing and we’re in the thick of it right now.

Where does it pick up from the season finale?

Well, the cliffhanger is the death of that schoolteacher so the ramifications of that are pretty much what we have to deal with the first episode. That’s about as much as I can give away but the aftermath of that is a pretty big deal.

Like Carlton said you’d be, are you heavily involved in the second season?

Yeah, I am. The story takes different turns. I think the world of White Pine Bay really opens up in season two, so we’re introducing a number of characters that we haven’t seen before, that we haven’t alluded to. The underbelly kind of opens up. We get to find out more of the drug trade and yeah, definitely my involvement picks up, especially towards the latter half of the season. Right now it’s really picking up.