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Bates Motel Welcomes Rihanna as Marion Crane: The Unlikely Story Behind the Superstar's Casting

TVLine logo TVLine 3/20/2017 Michael Ausiello
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Bates Motel exec producer Carlton Cuse experienced his Rihanna-as-Marion-Crane epiphany while flipping through the pages of a magazine.

“I was reading a profile of her in Vanity Fair and all of a sudden she says that Bates Motel is her favorite television show, and I was like, ‘What?'” Cuse recalls to TVLine ahead of the singer’s debut as the ill-fated Psycho icon (10/9c, tonight on A&E). “We had been talking about introducing Marion Crane and the challenge was doing it in a way that wouldn’t be a pale imitation of Janet Leigh from the original.”

Cuse says he immediately pitched his idea to Bates showrunner Kerry Ehrin (“She loved it,” he shares), after which he approached Rihanna’s team. “What was the worst thing that could happen? She says no?” Cuse muses. “Turns out… she wanted to be a part of it. And she stepped out of her [Anti] World Tour to come to Vancouver to shoot a couple of episodes. And that was just an amazing thing for us.”

The EPs maintain that they had zero trepidation about handing such a monumental role to a singer with limited acting experience (save, most notably, for 2012’s Battleship). “She’s an exciting presence,” Ehrin offers. “She’s very charismatic. She brought something very unique to it. Above everything, we wanted it to feel new and unique to the retelling of Marion.”

Adds Cuse: “There is a long history of singers being successful as actors, from Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand. And we bet that she would be able to do a great job with it [and] spin the role in a way that was going to be completely modern. And we were very happy.”

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