Freddie Highmore

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Hide the butcher knives: There's a new Norman Bates in town!

English actor Freddie Highmore has been cast as the budding serial killer in A&E's upcoming Psycho prequel Bates Motel, E! has confirmed. (TV Guide broke the news of his casting.) The 20-year-old actor, best known for his roles in family-friendly flicks like Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, will take an edgier turn in his latest project, an origin story for the infamous innkeeper who preferred to go about his killing while wearing Mother's clothes. 

The cable series finds a sheltered 16-year-old Norman moving with his impulsive and oh-so-resourceful mom, Norma Louise (Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga), to a Northern California coastal town for a fresh start after the death of his father. Long before the Psycho--who was played by Anthony Perkins in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed classic film--kept dear old dead mom in a rocking chair in the Bates abode, it seems Norman and Norma were close. Unsettlingly so.

Executive produced by Lost's Carlton Cuse and Friday Night Lights' Kerry Ehrin, the new series will incorporate DNA of both of those beloved, dearly-departed shows, with the daily dramas of high-school life unfolding in a town where all may not be quite what it seems.

Rounding out the deeply dysfunctional clan is Norman's hot older brother, Dylan, a moody, motorcycle-riding rebel who doesn't exactly share Norman's fondness for Mother. E! has confirmed that Max Thieriot (Kit Kittredge: An American Girl) has signed on to play the role; the news first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.

You can check out—make that check into--Bates Motel when it premieres next year.

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