The A&E original series “Bates Motel” takes its name and characters from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 thriller “Psycho,” but focuses on the life of a young Norman Bates and his complicated relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga). The series acted as a sort of prequel to the film, though changed details about the setting and story as it progressed through a five-season arc. Changes included inventing characters like Cooke’s Emma Decody, a teenage “old soul” with cystic fibrosis who becomes a friend and occasional love interest for the budding serial killer.
Cooke was a striking presence in the series, which marked a turning point in her career as a young actress. Just a year after landing the role, she would begin starring in movies. But in a recent profile piece for The Guardian, Cooke revealed that it was also one of the toughest times in her life.
“I’m so grateful for that job, but I had a really tough time on it. The way the schedule worked, we all had different storylines, so a lot of my time was spent in this apartment in Vancouver, working once every two weeks.”
A number of unfortunate factors added up to an “awful” mental health experience. Cooke was 20 when she began working on the series and was far from home, having just moved to the Unites States from the United Kingdom. Not only was she settling into a new country, but grappling with the stakes of her career. It didn’t help that the schedule kept her working so infrequently, and being under the legal drinking age in America meant there were fewer chances and places to socialize and meet people during all of that downtime.
“It was a big old lovely cocktail: being homesick and not knowing it, having not stopped since I was 18, being on my own for large swathes of time.”