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Rihanna Joins ‘Bates Motel’ in Janet Leigh Role

Rihanna has been cast as Marion Crane – the role made famous by Janet Leigh — in the fifth and final season of A&E’s “Bates Motel.”

That announced marked the big news from the Comic Con panel for “Bates Motel,” eclipsing the news that Vera Farmiga would still be very present in the fifth and final season of the show (even though her character has been killed off) or that the fifth season would be its last.

After playing a video with Rihanna announcing the news, the biggest question was how this casting coup came about. “I read this article in which she said she was a fan of “Bates Motel,” executive producer Carlton Cuse explained. “We asked and she said yes. It was awesome. We’re really excited about it. It really feels very much like the version of the character that is different from the movie.”

In the film “Psycho,” which serves as the loose inspiration for the series, Marion Crane checks into the “Bates Motel,” where she has the misfortune of crossing paths with motel owner Norman Bates. Her shower scene — where she gets stabbed to death — has become one of film’s most iconic.

Cuse also said that the Marion character is one they wanted to make sure to include before wrapping the A&E series next year. “We wanted her to very much be her own character and we felt in order to do that we needed to find someone who was very, very special to play Marion.” Also on the panel with Cuse were executive producer Kerry Ehrin and stars Vera Farmiga (Norma), Freddie Highmore (Norman), Nestor Carbonell (Alex) and Max Thieriot (Dylan).

Of plans for the show’s final season, Cuse said he and Ehrin wanted to explore Norman Bates post-Norma’s death. “The final season of the show would really be Norman in his full blown psycho pathology more like the character in the movie but that doesn’t mean that Norma will not have a role. In fact, she has a huge role but she’ll be Norman’s imagining of her.”

For Highmore, who traditionally watches Hitchcock’s classic film before starting every new season, he’s excited to watch knowing what is coming for his character. “It will be fun to rewatch it but also just to start up a whole new show with getting to do some fantastic scenes with Vera but in a completely new way.” During the panel, a new scene showing Norman tending to a dead and frozen Norma in a freezer in the house’s basement was also shown as a preview of season five.

With Norman so far off the deep end now, should viewers see him differently than in previous seasons? Ehrin doesn’t think so. “Ideally you want to be on the ride with Norman because we’ve never been on the outside looking in…part of the goal of the season is to really create a fabulous, hallucinatory mother.”

Cuse also said not to expect “Bates Motel” to end the same way as the Hitchcock film ends. “I think that would be a real letdown and uninspired on our part. We are going to cross through some of the mythology of the movie, ‘Psycho,’ but our story will have its own distinct ending that is just like our show, it’s very much its own creation. What happens to Norman is not something that we’re going to say here but his fate is not exactly the same as it is in the movie.”

In other news announced during the panel, Highmore and Thieriot will join Carbonell in stepping behind the camera to direct episodes in the final season. Carbonell (who also directed last year) will direct episode 5, Highmore will helm episode 8 and Thieriot will tackle the fourth episode. Highmore will also pen an episode, as he did last season.

“Bates Motel” will begin production this fall in Vancouver and will return for a final season in 2017 on A&E.

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