INTERVIEW| Freddie Highmore: ‘The world is inherently good’

The Good Doctor returns with its sixth season and protagonist Freddie Highmore gets chatty with us on the nuances of the show, why talking about autism is important and more... | By Romal Laisram

Published: 01st November 2022 07:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st November 2022 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

A still from 'The Good Doctor'

A still from 'The Good Doctor'. (File Photo)

Express News Service

Freddie Highmore aka Alfred Thomas Highmore broke onto our screens with his portrayal of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. Just 13 then, Freddie won audiences’ hearts across the globe with his endearing performance. This wasn’t his debut though, as we’d already seen him in Finding Neverland (2004) and Women Talking Dirty (1999) as a child actor. As the years passed, we were treated to several brilliant performances from the actor like in August Rush (2007), The Spiderwick Chronicle (2008) and The Vault (2021)—which he also produced. 

His most celebrated role over the years, however, continues to be Dr Shaun Murphy, the autistic protagonist of The Good Doctor (a medical drama TV series based on the 2013 South Korean series of the same name) that began airing in 2017. Season 6 of the series just premiered and is being broadcasted on SonyLIV in India and simultaneously in the USA. We caught up with Freddie to talk about the show, the need for authentic representation of autism, and more.

Freddie Highmore

What will the new season be like for Shaun Murphy?
In Season 6, Shaun is already married and that raises the stakes, I think, a bit for him in terms of wanting to have a family and how he can go about that. Shaun is also going to have to take charge, be a boss, tell people what to do; and try to communicate, and also be a mentor. When he was a resident and made a mistake, there was someone to help him see the right way, but when he’s the person who has the ultimate power over that decision, the stakes are that much higher.

Why do you think the show got popular?
You just get lucky, I think, for whatever reason and people responded to the show in general. I’ve always felt like the show has been, despite the inevitable tragedies and traumas, a hopeful one. And I think, in this moment of time—from when the show first released and all the way through COVID-19  and everything that’s happening today in the world—people have enjoyed coming to a space that reminds them—through Shaun’s point of view—that the world is inherently good. 

In many ways, you are working on two shows simultaneously—one on an autistic individual and the other being a doctor—isn’t that a lot of work?
I just feel lucky. It’s funny you mention two shows, because I’ve always felt like that’s what the show is about—at least, from Shaun’s perspective. It is about this guy who has autism and how he’s planning to navigate the world and grow as a person. But, when I look back, I feel like what’s most meaningful isn’t the case of the week; it’s more the way the characters are changed by the experience. So yes, in some ways it is two shows in one, but also, it’s a show about everything other than the medicine that’s happening.

How close do you feel to Dr Shaun Murphy?
It depends on what you mean by close. I think Shaun and I are very different people, but I definitely have affection for him. It would be somewhat deluded on my part to call them close but he does feel familiar now. I think, what’s funny about doing this show in comparison to films that I’ve done or even Bates Motel is just the amount of time that you dedicate to it. We film nine months of the year and so it becomes the focus of your life and that’s partly what makes it meaningful. 

You’ve been commended for your prep for an autistic person’s role... 
I know that we’ve all spoken about the preparations that I did initially in terms of autism and that research was required. Over time that research continues but you’re also more aware of how Shaun is as a character. You’re on his individual journey and his individual storyline. And I think, while the research continues to be important, it’s also being aware that we’re telling this one individual story and feeling free to embrace the idiosyncrasies that Shaun has and the way that he might react in this moment—in a way that’s surprising and isn’t something that can be found in a book. It’s been really rewarding to get to know Shaun better in this way, through each of the seasons. 



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