Some faithful fans of “The Good Doctor” have probably found the last few weeks difficult to watch on the groundbreaking drama. Freddie Highmore, who brings Dr. Shaun Murphy’s evolution as a surgical resident, with the challenges of autism and savant syndrome, to breathing life every Monday, is engrossing himself more fully behind the camera. The English actor directed the recent episode 15, “Risk and Reward,” and the star delights in the elements of risk and reward that are part of any acting or creative venture.

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His character is facing the most critical confrontation of his burgeoning career in the character of Dr. Jackson Han, through the deft portrayal by Daniel Dae Kim. The young surgeon is having to stand on his own and stand up for himself as he never has before, and his fate and his future are still in the balance.

Freddie Highmore sat with the revered Rolling Stone critic, Peter Travers, for the February 27 installment of “Popcorn with Peter Travers,” and the star was quite willing to “give it a go” and find out if the bucket of popcorn on the set was the real thing.

Freddie Highmore is feeling proud and fulfilled on The Good Doctor. [Image source: Popcorn with Peter Travers/YouTube]
Freddie Highmore is feeling proud and fulfilled on The Good Doctor. [Image source: Popcorn with Peter Travers/YouTube]

He didn't go back for a second helping, but he had some delicious insights about his own and his character’s growth and discovery in the drama. On the TV set, as in life, conflict can prompt great personal strides.

Speaking in real terms

In many ways, there is a remarkable duality for Freddie Highmore in “Bates Motel” and in “The Good Doctor.” Through his five seasons alongside Vera Farmiga as the buoyant, but undoubtedly disturbed, mother of Norman Bates, Highmore both wrote and directed episodes and earned Golden Globe nominations.

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In just two seasons of the ABC medical drama that has become the highest-rated new series in a decade for the network, he already has accomplished those same milestones and certainly plans to do more of all three.

One thing that wasn't deliberate, for the very mindful Freddie Highmore, was how he reverted completely to his natural British accent while directing. He deflected any notion that he had dictator tendencies toward any of his castmates from the director's chair but, uncharacteristically, he just couldn't hold to his penchant for keeping an American accent once it was time to say “Cut!’

Another real aspect that delights Highmore is how Shaun Murphy is “changing and growing” through his life experiences, both personally and professionally.

The character is losing some of his Casper, Wyoming sense of innocence and naivety and becoming more open to broadening his circle of trust and letting his humor and lighthearted side come through. He certainly didn't take long in learning that the open-ended permission for walks from the pathology lab let him go right back to the surgical residents he preferred in last week's episode.

Freddie Highmore has quite articulately reminded that “when you've met an autistic person, you've met one autistic person,” insisting each individual's means of coping with ASD spectrum is completely unique.

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The actor also reiterates that the emotional side of someone with autism is deep and complex, even if the outward expression of emotion is difficult. “Of course, that’s not true,” Highmore stresses of the misconception that those with autism do not possess deeply emotional responses.

Fans of “The Good Doctor” definitely realize that Freddie Highmore speaks volumes through the eyes, the simple gestures, and even the flushing neck of Dr. Shaun Murphy.

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The 27-year-old Highmore insists that so long as his portrayal is done “truthfully” and feels “genuine and right,” there is no need to make the emotional dimension “big or obvious.” The subtle gestures that convey Shaun Murphy’s thoughts display the actor’s complete sensibility to his character and his craft.

Still a Canadian family

While Dr. Murphy’s future is still in a state of flux, “The Good Doctor” has already been green-lighted for Season 3. The arrival of David Shore transformed the fate of the drama from an initially-rejected pilot to a beloved hit. Freddie Highmore has the comfort of remaining with some familiar faces while shooting in Vancouver.

The star related how he spent five seasons in the Canadian film-making Mecca with “Bates Motel,” and that a few of the same production staff “migrated” to the medical drama.

Highmore was still finishing up his studies at Cambridge University when he started filming the horror series prequel, and he has continued an abiding friendship with Farmiga, even being godfather to her son. He praised the actress for “boldness and confidence” that most actors could never dare in bringing a character to life. “She's marvelous, amazing, and brilliant,” exudes her former co-star and close friend.

It’s quite possible that the actress could be in a future storyline on “The Good Doctor.” The real-life spouses of Nicholas Gonzalez and Will Yun Lee have recently had meaningful roles. Freddie takes pride in his involvement with the drama in a “wider way.” Dr. Murphy definitely is learning to summon his own strength, as well as welcome support from colleagues. The next season could be a perfect time for an old friend to visit San Jose.

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