Currently best known as Norman Bates on the hit A&E show “Bates Motel,” at a young age Freddie Highmore has also made his mark in the film “Finding Neverland” and countless other roles. We recently spoke with him during a press run for his new animated movie “Justin and the Knights of Valour” presented by Antonio Banderas about the process, how he snuck showings of Captain America at sleepovers and much more!
Marvel.com: To begin, what interested you in taking on the film and this role?
Freddie Highmore: I guess the animation process has always intrigued me and having done a few before, you start to realize it’s a different challenge from acting in a film and you’re always kind of inspired by new challenges and being able to do different things.
Marvel.com: Did you talk to Antonio about the film prior to taking on the role?
Freddie Highmore: No, I never ended up speaking to him. That’s the funny thing about animation is that you think you’re gonna be there in the studio with all the different people but what actually ends up happening is you’re kind of on your own talking to yourself and then mash all the voices together afterwards. In fact, I’ve never met any of the cast of “Justin and the Knights of Valour.” I guess that’s one of the challenges of animation.
Marvel.com: Was doing this one any different than the previous voiceover roles you’ve done in the past?
Freddie Highmore: I guess with the kind of action and you learn that you need to lose any kinds of inhibitions or self-consciousness about being there in the room shouting and sort of imagining waving a sword around and being quite physical while you look completely ridiculous to those in the studio. Just standing there, wielding a fake sword and jumping up and down to get out of breath. And so I think as you do more and more of those animated films you become more and more relaxed and [stop] worrying about what people are thinking of you.
Marvel.com: Why would a Marvel fan like this film? What would you sell them on to get them to watch?
Freddie Highmore: To watch “Justin?” What I like is that it’s a new, fresh take on animation. You watch it and not that the animated films that come out of the U.S. or the UK are any worse in quality but I think that they have a slightly different guide to what makes a good animation. Sometimes it’s refreshing to see the Spanish take and a more Spanish sense of humor from the Spanish writer and director. And that’s what’s different about “Justin” and refreshing.
Marvel.com: A little Marvel word association: Spider-Man, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Freddie Highmore: His pose, his “thwip” when he’s getting his web out. His crouched down position.
Marvel.com: What about the Avengers, anything that comes to mind with them?
Freddie Highmore: I actually met Mark Ruffalo the other day and he was talking about “Avengers: Age of Ultron” so I guess he comes straight to mind.
Marvel.com: Did he spoil anything for you?
Freddie Highmore: No, nothing at all, unfortunately.
Marvel.com: What about Captain America?
Freddie Highmore: I used to see a lot of that when I was younger. I think it, a friend called Ben actually, we’d go to his house and we were a bit too young to be really watching. There’s a sense of being slightly edgy as you’re at some sleepover and the parents are gonna say you should have been in bed a long time ago.
Marvel.com: You always play such great and deep, deep, characters. You would probably be a good super hero.
Freddie Highmore: Yeah, it’d be fantastic. Norman Bates certainly isn’t a super hero as much as he’s a nice guy. I think he’s more of an anti-hero type. You never know, one day, it’d be great fun. It’s probably just the thing of finding new projects that are different and challenging for new reasons. Nobody wants to see you play the same old character again and again.
Marvel.com: What else do you have upcoming?
Freddie Highmore: I’m going back to Vancouver around September/October time to start up season three [of “Bates Motel”] and then that’s coming out next year in the spring. And then after that I’m not too sure yet but I’m sure there’ll be something.
Pick up “Justin and the Knights of Valour” now and watch Freddie on “Bates Motel” on A&E.