“In the world today with lots of trouble on a daily basis, the idea of someone who has a wonderful heart and tries to do the right thing is someone people are drawn to,” explains Freddie Highmore of the character he plays on the ABC hit “The Good Doctor.” In our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “The optimism of Shaun is what I like about him. His hopeful outlook on the world; always trying to see the good in people. He’s not immediately judgmental.”
In the freshman series, Highmore plays Dr. Shaun Murphy, a new surgeon recruited to a prestigious hospital despite concerns of board members that his autism diagnosis proves too great of a risk. Of the premise for the show, Highmore says, “I knew people personally before this show came along who have autism. But when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. That’s important to remember with Shaun, constructing him as an individual. He can’t represent everyone on the spectrum, in the same way your ‘typical’ lead character on a show can’t possibly represent everyone.”
Highmore reveals in the interview that Shaun “is very internal. A lot of what he is thinking is not obvious to those he’s interacting with. Sometimes I feel it’s an adjustment for everyone. The actors aren’t exactly getting what they may expect from another scene partner. All of us as a group, not just me, will find those new ways of constructing a scene with a central character that is different from something we’ve experienced before. I hope that they feel like they are getting something from me even if Shaun is very much in his head. It must be odd for others to react to.”
The November 20 episode, titled “Apple,” ended on a touching moment when Shaun and his neighbor Lea (Paige Spara) exchange a hug after he admits that he made a mistake.” Highmore says that “the episode rests from the culmination of Shaun’s journey in that final little scene that’s all about a hug. That’s what’s fun about the show — those subtleties, small beats and little moments on which a lot of stuff seems to hang. It doesn’t need to be shoved down your throat. There’s a lot more to come with Shaun and Lea. We will come to see how he falls for her and how she brings out a different side to him.”
Highmore teases other things to look forward to in this first season of the program: “the real question now as we get to the end of this part of the season is that of independence, with Shaun realizing who he is and what he wants to be. And the friction between him and Glassman (Richard Schiff). He has Shaun’s best interest at heart, but Shaun doesn’t see it that way. The tension between the two of them is building.”
The ABC series has been consistently one of the highest rated shows of this television season. This fact helps put Highmore in contention for the upcoming Golden Globe and SAG Awards, however he is a bit bemused by the success: “It’s funny because I’m here is Vancouver where we film. We make these intimate personal stories where we go into our little hospital rooms. I guess people are watching elsewhere, outside of the cozy bubble we are working in.”
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