Nestor Carbonell, 46, has starred in some of the most popular projects of the past few years, including Suddenly Susan, The Dark Knight movies and Lost.
The New York-born actor talks to Roger Crow about playing a shady sheriff in TV hit Bates Motel, balancing darkness with comedy and the joys of living in Hawaii.
Tell us about your Bates Motel character, Sheriff Alex Romero
He’s a bit of an enigma to me and just about everyone else who’s watched the first season.
Through the second season we get a bit more of an insight into how he feels being in his position, where on the one hand he’s trying to run this town by a certain set of laws, but on the other hand, there’s the reality that the town is largely sustained by the drug trade.
What is it about Norman Bates and mother Norma that has fascinated us for more than 50 years?
It’s the age-old Oedipus Rex complex. It’s a classic theme and that’s at the heart of the show .
I think the way (writers) Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, and (actors) Vera (Farmiga) and Freddie (Highmore) are tackling it, they’re obviously trying to understand the ‘why’ behind the dynamic; explore what’s at the genesis of it and how dysfunctional it is, but really understand Norma’s reasons for loving her son so deeply and caring for him.
I have kids in elementary school and I can’t tell you how many mothers have come up to me and say they love the show, but are starting to question their own dynamic with their sons.
What was it like working with Chris Nolan on the Dark Knight movies?
There were so many things I loved about working with him on those films. I’d never worked on a budget like that, the first one, The Dark Knight, and I didn’t know what to expect, but he runs an extraordinarily relaxed set. As big a venue as he seems to be filming under, he really keeps it very relaxed and has a nice pace to the way he works. It’s a wonderful working environment and he’s arguably one of the best storytellers we have around today.
What was the most memorable element of working on cult series Lost?
It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had; moving my family to Hawaii and working with that extraordinary writing and cast.The pinnacle for me creatively was to do a back story for my character; he was shrouded in so much mystery, not unlike this character on Bates Motel, Romero. But when I finally found out what his back story was and got to shoot it, that was definitely a highlight.