Rihanna to Play Janet Leigh’s ‘Psycho’ Role in ‘Bates Motel’ and Other SDCC Casting News

Freddie Highmore, Rihanna
From left: an Gavan/Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for FENTY PUMA
Freddie Highmore, Rihanna

The juiciest bits to come out of any Comic-Con are casting coups. And this year’s con in San Diego is no exception. But no one would have guessed that one of music’s biggest stars would play an iconic role.

Rihanna has been cast as Marion Crane during the fifth and final season of the A&E drama Bates Motel. We all know who RiRi is, but who is Marion Crane? That’s the role Janet Leigh played in Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1960 film Psycho. She’s the one who checked into Bates Motel, stepped into the shower and… well, suffice it to say, she didn’t check out. And her death is one of the most famous movie scenes of all time.

“We wanted to thrust the iconic role into a contemporary spotlight and redefine it in a meaningful and exciting new way,” executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin said in a statement. “We also heard Rihanna was a fan of the show, and we were huge fans of hers, so it was the perfect collision of creativity and fate.”

So, we now have the biggest clue ever that Norman (Freddie Highmore) will go full-on, wig-wearing homicidal during the last season. With the death of his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) at the end of Season 4, the stage is set for a few of his classic film moments to make it to the small screen. Fans of Psycho know that Norma spends the movie indisposed (read: dead), but she’ll remain a central figure in the fifth season of Bates Motel as the object of Norman’s murderous obsession.

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Here’s a video of RiRi making the announcement during the show’s panel today:

In other casting news:

Kristen Chenoweth is slated to play “Easter” in the new Starz series American Gods. Why is this significant? Because American Gods is produced by Bryan Fuller, and the two worked together on the late, lamented ABC series Pushing Daisies. Considering Chenoweth won an Emmy for the show, it’s a pairing that has been good for her. In her new role, she plays Ostara, goddess of spring, who renames herself “Easter” and embraces the jellybeans and chocolate bunnies, just to ensure she’s contemporary and relevant.

Here’s a look at the trailer:

On The Big Bang Theory, we’ll finally get to meet Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) family in the season premiere. Katey Sagal will play her mother Susan and Jack McBrayer will play her brother Randall. Susan’s had to deal with Randall’s crap for his whole life, and even though he’s a cheery guy (when does McBrayer play anything but?) he’s also a drug dealer and an ex-con. So to say that Susan is stressed out and a bit neurotic is an understatement.

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The casting is notable for two reasons: Sagal and Cuoco have played mother and daughter before, on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules. It also means we’ll get to see Sagal and McBrayer play opposite not only the BBT cast but Emmy winner Christine Baranski, who plays the uptight, chilly mother of Leonard (Johnny Galecki). Oh, and it seems like neither character has a last name, which means we still don’t know Penny’s maiden name. If we don’t find out in this episode, we’ll probably never know.

Meanwhile, on Warner Bros. day at the con on Friday, they announced two new cast members for their second-year show on NBC, Blindspot. Luke Mitchell (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) will be playing a character named Roman, and Michelle Hurd (Daredevil) will play a member of the secretive organization that sent the tattooed Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) to the FBI in the first place. This comes on the heels of the announcement that Archie Panjabi would also join the show, whose second season starts Sept. 14.