Freddie Highmore opens up about the early success of 'The Good Doctor'

Philip Louie

Actor Freddie Highmore from ABC's new breakout hit drama series, "The Good Doctor," stopped by BUILD Series last week to dish about his latest role as the autistic and savant syndrome stricken doctor Shaun Murphy.

Highmore's Murphy is a resident surgeon at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital where his remarkable savant abilities have been extremely helpful in dire life or death situations in each episode of the series despite the doubts of his fellow colleagues.

In terms of what drew Highmore to the role, he joked that it was because of creator David Shore, who said that he wanted to immediately change the public's perception of him from being the bad guy (see "Bates Motel") to being the good guy. Highmore talked to Shore about this project just three days after wrapping "Bates Motel."

"It was the character more than anything. I haven't seen someone like Shaun being portrayed in quite the same way on television before and certainly on broadcast television like we've been doing. There was a responsibility that we all assumed by taking on this character and we wanted to get it right. That was exciting to me too and it seemed like a great challenge."

Highmore was assured by Shore that Shaun Murphy will be a perfect role for him to take on, one that will be sustainable over multiple episodes and seasons of storytelling.

"You need to make sure that it's the right choice. You don't want to be stuck doing something you wouldn't want to do. I think those early conversations with David were about that and how he envisioned Shaun changing over time and what his character arc would be in both this first season and beyond," Highmore said.

The actor added that, "Shaun would always have autism but it's [about] how he will learn to adapt to this new environment we have found him in and in this first season in his quest for independence, and at the end of the season I guess it becomes about him searching for, and understanding of who, and when, and why to trust people."

When it comes to the actual research for his character, Highmore went on to say that he knew people in his own personal life that have autism, but no one quite like Shaun Murphy. Additionally "it was about trading documentaries back and forth, pieces of literature and then an on-set consultant [was] there to make sure we were portraying Shaun as accurately as possible," the actor explained.

Despite all of that, the star reiterated you could never represent everyone on the spectrum who has autism. "I think the most touching and heartfelt meaningful responses that we've got have been from those people who either have autism themselves or know people closely who do and it makes it all try and do the best you can really and put in as much as you can into it."

Fortunately, audiences have really resonated positively to the show with the series earning consistent high ratings for each new episode. Also, Highmore is fresh off his first ever Golden Globes nomination, which he called a "huge honor and a wonderful surprise."

"I guess it felt like a collective achievement and something that we all been working towards in the months prior. I guess it's a new experience for me working on something where there's an immediate reaction. On 'Bates Motel,' we filmed the season and then in a couple of months, it would all be released. It's interesting and exciting, especially for everyone who's been working on it, for the crew who get to go home and watch it with their families and then come back in to work the next day. It feels more alive," Highmore concluded.

"The Good Doctor" airs Monday nights at 10 P.M. on ABC!

What to Read Next