Exclusive Interview: Nestor Carbonell on ‘Bates Motel’

Was playing a character who was not part of the original Psycho easier and less pressure for you?

Good question. You know, I made a point of not re-watching Psycho when I got the call, just because it was such a different world that Carlton and Kerry re-imagined. The whole oedipal dynamic wasn’t really explored in the film and obviously the drug trade wasn’t a part of the film as well. And it’s a modern prequel of sorts, so I didn’t go back to the film in any way. There was a Sheriff Chambers I believe. Romero was a very different role so I didn’t feel any pressure to go back to that. 

Is doing a 10 episode season a lot easier than doing “Lost?”

I find it very similar. Again, we’re dealing with sort of a psychological thriller which “Lost” was in many ways, and the last three seasons of “Lost” which is where I worked most predominantly, in the latter half of the show, it was more truncated seasons in terms of network style. They were shortened seasons, so in that way they were similar, and again we’re only privy to what we’re reading. 

We don’t really know much in advance like we did on “Lost.” We know maybe a little bit more but not much more, so it’s very similar in that way but I like the 10 episode arc. It really packs a mean punch. There’s no filler episodes, not that there were on “Lost,” especially in the last three seasons. But I think for network TV, when you have to do 22, you’re inevitably going to have those filler episodes and there’s nothing like that on this show, that’s for sure. Every episode counts in a big way.

Is working with Carlton just the same?

It’s been great. I’ve gotten to know him even more so just because I started on the show with him. It’s been amazing. It’s been a “Lost” reunion of sorts, not only working with him, but also with Tucker Gates who’s a producing director. He directed a number of episodes of “Lost,” and John Bartley who was a director of photography on “Lost,” Chris Nelson who’s the editor. So there are a number of “Lost” people on “Bates Motel” so that’s been amazing too. Yeah, getting to work with Carlton again has just been a real blessing, and just getting to hang out with him and know him personally as well has been great. 

This is my first chance to ask you, what did you think of the finale of “Lost?

I loved it. I loved it. I know that people were split on it but I loved it. For me it was always an emotional ride. It was less about the minutiae and answering every single question, but I remember reading the finale and thinking, “Wow, this is going to be tough to execute” because so much of it hinged on performance. It was so emotionally laden, but in the hands of Jack Bender, our great director, I think he definitely nailed it.

Obviously Matthew Fox was brilliant as was the rest of the cast, but I really liked it. For me I was fulfilled with the message at the end, the soul group message at the end, so for me I was satisfied. I know people are split on it, but I really loved it. My wife was a huge “Lost” fan before I even joined the show and was equally really moved by it.

Did you get the answers you were looking for?

I did, I did. I really did. That’s what I wanted to know. I wanted to know what that flash sideways was about. Was it a purgatory of sorts? Was it a group of soul groups waiting for you to pass to send you off into the next stage I suppose? I loved all that. That to me was what the heart of the show was about, this group of souls who had come together either by fate or circumstance and whether they were destined to be together in this life and the next.

And why you never aged.

Oh, that, it was nice to know that as well and to be sort of unhinged from those shackles that I guess my character felt tortured by, being immortal. I loved all that. I really was fulfilled. For me, It was about the emotional ride.

When you got the script for The Dark Knight Rises, were you sad about the mayor’s fate?

I was. I was thrilled to be part of the third part in the trilogy but yeah, I was like, “Well, if he does do a fourth one, if he does decide in the end to do a fourth one, I don’t think I’m going to be in it this time around.” Although you never see my body. There could have been a hatch or something to escape in. But it was great to re-team and get back together and work with obviously Chris Nolan and Wally Pfister and the cast. It was a lot of fun.

Well, they’re not doing a fourth one,  so you made it to the end.

I know, I guess I made it to the end. They are making another one but I don’t think Chris is involved.