Freddie Highmore stars on The Good Doctor, one of the top new series to debut this primetime TV season. Highmore beautifully plays Dr. Shaun Murphy, a brilliant surgical resident who has autism. While Highmore is most notably known for his work on the thrilling series Bates Motel, this series gives him a chance to use some of his other acting muscles that we haven’t quite seen from him yet. On The Good Doctor, Shaun not only makes discoveries that save patients’ lives, but he also makes discoveries about himself along the way.
The TV Junkies were lucky enough to chat with the brilliant actor about his hit new series. He spoke about his character Shaun, his character’s relationship with the other doctors, and what we can look forward to in future episodes.
The TV Junkies: What kind of research did you do to get in the mindset of Shaun?
Freddie Highmore: I think we also have a great responsibility to portray Shaun as authentically as possible with regards to his autism. David Shore and I were very collaborative in that regard and shared back and forth various pieces of literature and various documentaries that we found illuminating when building the character of Shaun. Also, we have a full-time consultant, a specialist who is on board the show and who is always available during production. Ultimately, the important thing to remember too is Shaun can’t, nor should he be, representative of everyone who has autism. In the same way you’d have many neurotypical lead characters of television shows, and they could never represent the many plethora of people out there who are neurotypical.
TTVJ: This must have been so different for you to go from Norman on Bates to Shaun. How did you go from being in such a different head space in such a short amount of time?
FH: It was short. It was only three days actually from finishing Bates to sitting down and reading the script [for The Good Doctor] and meeting with David for this part. I guess you construct the characters differently and with different amounts of preparation. Different kinds of preparation that I hadn’t done before went into preparing for Shaun. I think in some ways the transition from one show to another has been smoothed over because on the show, now we have many of the same crew members who worked on Bates who are now working on this show. For me at least, it feels like that old family is still to some degree intact.
TTVJ: What is one thing you think people will appreciate about Shaun the most as the season progresses?
FH: We’re going to be seeing more of his neighbor who we saw in the first couple of episodes and she’ll suddenly return into Shaun’s life. I think that is what’s most exciting too is that, not only of course at the center of it is Shaun’s incredible medical ability, and seeing how he adapts to these new rules and codes at the hospital, in the beginning, seem quite foreign to him. Also, seeing and exploring how he grows as a person outside of the hospital, how he’s coping with living alone for the first time and the pressures that come with being a surgeon and carrying out having to make life-changing decisions on a daily basis.
TTVJ: Shaun’s friendship with Claire (Antonia Thomas) seems to be really helping him get adjusted to the hospital. What can we look forward to this season for their relationship?
FH: I think Claire is probably the first person outside of Glassman (Richard Schiff) of course, to make an effort to try and understand who he is. I think that the refreshing honesty that they have between each other from the very beginning will be exciting to see how their story progresses.
TTVJ: Will we get to see more flashbacks of Shaun in his youth with Glassman?
FH: I think that certainly there is more story to be dug up in terms of Shaun and Dr. Glassman’s past and their relationship. With what that was like when Shaun decided he wanted to be a surgeon and go to medical school, and how all of those slightly unanswered questions and gaps in his life will certainly be filled in.
TTVJ: In an upcoming episode Shaun meets a patient that also has autism. How will that be for him? What will that encounter mean for him?
FH: Without giving away the landing place of the episode, I think what’s interesting is that Shaun doesn’t necessarily see himself reflected in this new person who comes to the hospital and also has autism. And I think in some way, that also goes to what we were disusing earlier on, which is when you’ve met one person with autism you’ve met one person with autism. For Shaun, this is the very first time that he has interacted on such a level with another person with autism, and he may not recognize immediate similarities between the two of them.
Are you loving The Good Doctor? Which doctor would you like to learn more about this season? Let us know in the comments below!
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV.
Victoria loves all things TV! Whether it's binging Grey's Anatomy (for the 4th time) or talking Orphan Black plot lines with her Professors, she's fully in love with the medium. Victoria loves television so much that she is studying it at Monmouth University. If you love hearing long rants about why Luke and Lorelai are meant for each other you should follow Victoria on twitter @VictoriaNelli.