MovieChat Forums > Anthony Perkins Discussion > The one and only Norman Bates

The one and only Norman Bates

No one else should be Norman other than him


Vince Vaughn proved that. (And he's a good actor)


I think part of the reason for that is that Alfred Hitchcock "re-created" Norman Bates(from the 1959 Robert Bloch novel) to BE Anthony Perkins.

Norman in the book is a fat, forty-year old bespectacled, balding creep of a man. Hitchcock, working under the "star system" of a waning Old Hollywood, figured that would have to change.

At the same time, Hitchcock had had his eye to work with Anthony Perkins on SOMETHING ever since seeing the handsome young Perkins play a basket case baseball player(the real-life Jimmy Pearsoll) in Fear Strikes Out(1957.) I'm guessing that Hitchcock saw villain qualities in Perkins that would match the casting of boyish Robert Walker as a psychopath in "Strangers on a Train." (1951.)

Said Hitchcock, many times, about his handsome psychopaths: "They have to be good looking, otherwise their victims would never come near them."

Perkins in 1960 was a very handsome young man, a beauty. He also had that nervy, tic-ridden presence. Nobody playing Norman has matched that yet. Not strapping Henry Thomas(all grown up from ET) in Psycho IV; not Hulking Giant Vince Vaughn, and not even Freddie Highmore on Bates Motel(Highmore has the boyish quality,but not the beauty -- Perkins had sex appeal, young women went nuts for him.)

And Hitchcock turned Norman Bates into Anthony Perkins -- a star for just that one movie.

Irony: ANTHONY PERKINS could not match his work as Norman Bates in 1960 with the ever lessening sequels of the 80s and 1990. Perkins was still thin, and kind of boyish, but his face aged into that of a wizened older man and his acting deteriorated into "too many tics" with a sing song , robotic vocal quality.


You've missed a bigger point: Perkins was more than handsome (handsome is the best he was, in my opinion; "beautiful" describes a young Monty Clift or Newman). Perkins' "Norman" is actually the first victim in the story...long before he murders people of both genders. Perkins' "Norman" is hauntingly vulnerable and so profoundly shy with women, he can't even say the word "bathroom" to "Marion."

Ironically, it's this shyness that all but ensures "Marion's" fate. Despite the rain, the creepy motel, her own crime and the consequences surrounding it, she feels totally safe with "Norman" because she sees in him someone even more trapped than she herself. This has nothing to do with his looks, which are pleasant, but hardly sexually striking.

If a better looking actor than the somewhat anemic-looking Perkins had been cast, "Marion" would've never entered "Norman's" office parlor, much less cabin one's shower.


exactly. dude crushed the role


10 or so years ago I would have agreed with you but Freddie Highmore changed my mind.

Bates Motel was a triumph.