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[Only IN Hollywood] Freddie Highmore on 100th episode, new season on ‘The Good Doctor’ set

Ruben V. Nepales

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[Only IN Hollywood] Freddie Highmore on 100th episode, new season on ‘The Good Doctor’ set
'I feel like it's increasingly rare to get to play a part on television that lasts for this length of time, these many seasons, and this number of episodes,' says Freddie Highmore

LOS ANGELES, USA – “The 100th episode feels the same, yet [is] a very big milestone and something very meaningful,” Freddie Highmore, beaming on the Vancouver set of The Good Doctor, said about his series’ big day.

Freddie and I were seated in director chairs, facing each other, on the popular medical drama’s realistically detailed set.

The boyish-faced Freddie, whose Dr. Shaun Murphy anchors The Good Doctor – now also celebrating its sixth season – continued, “You hold yourself away on the set, you keep going, put one foot in front of the other, try and tell these stories as best we can, and then suddenly, you blink. And a hundred episodes have gone by, which is kind of crazy.”

“But I feel very lucky more than anything to have been able to play this character for so long. And also, for people not just in the US but internationally to have responded to the show. It’s amazing.”

The synopsis of The Good Doctor’s 100th episode, titled “Hot and Bothered” and streaming Monday, November 14, is outlined in the show’s press release: “In the midst of a heatwave, Dr. Shaun Murphy and Dr. Danica Powell (Savannah Welch) are at odds when it comes to their patient’s surgery. Their heated stalemate tests Shaun’s patience and his willingness to compromise.”

“Meanwhile, when the hospital loses power, Lea (Paige Spara) and Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff) are forced to come up with a quick solution or risk a total shutdown that could risk patients’ lives.”

[Only IN Hollywood] Freddie Highmore on 100th episode, new season on ‘The Good Doctor’ set

Sitting just steps away from the beds of the St. Bonaventure Hospital ER set, on one of the soundstages that the Prime Video show is using in Bridge Studios, Freddie enthused about how the hospital drama is well-loved all over the world.

“I’m continually surprised in the sense that it’s never something we can take for granted,” said the actor, who was not in his scrubs costume since he was not filming on the day I visited the set. “I just feel very lucky that people continue to tune in, watch the show, and to want to see these stories.”

“I feel like it’s increasingly rare to get to play a part on television that lasts for this length of time, these many seasons, and this number of episodes. And so, it certainly feels like a special show to be on as it represents something that is becoming increasingly rare.”

Freddie’s portrayal of a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome is highly praised. The London native stole many people’s hearts when he was a young boy (he was only 12 years old) in Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland.

Who can forget Freddie’s tearful face in that bench scene with Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland? That is considered one of the greatest tearjerker scenes and movie moments of all time.

Freddie transitioned from child actor to adult thespian in a steady stream of roles, including as Norman Bates, opposite Vera Farmiga’s Norma Louise Bates, in the TV series Bates Motel, which ran from 2013 to 2017.

It was also in 2017 when Freddie debuted on The Good Doctor as a surgical resident whose savant abilities include a photographic memory and an ability to spot the smallest details and changes. For his sensitive portrayal of a surgeon on the autism spectrum, Freddie earned a 2018 Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a TV series – drama.

AFTERPARTY. Shaun and Lea’s long-awaited wedding reception is interrupted by a violent attack at the hospital and the entire team must mobilize to save the victims. ABC/Jeff Weddell

On how Dr. Murphy and his autistic savant condition will evolve in the show, Freddie answered, “That’s the core of the show, certainly from my character’s point of view, as you are saying. It isn’t just about how this one character continues to move through the world but how he is evolving over time.”

“If we look back now to the pilot and to that first season with this naïve, innocent doctor arriving and finding himself slightly overwhelmed by the situation that he found himself in, it’s so interesting to see how he has changed today.”

“I think there’s a preconception perhaps that people with autism, because of their condition, can’t change or can’t evolve. But one of the things I’m most proud of is the way that Shaun has grown so much. He is now married and is thinking about starting a family of his own. It’s remarkable.”

Indeed, season six opened with the long-awaited wedding reception of Dr. Murphy and Lea Dilallo-Murphy, who is St. Bonaventure Hospital’s IT department head.

“So now that they’re married, I think the challenges and obstacles that they face are just even bigger, really,” Freddie replied when asked about Shaun and Lea’s relationship in this new season.

“They’re talking about the biggest questions in life, whether they want children, whether they’re able to have children, when that would be. So, it’s a big season for them and there’s a lot coming their way.”

LOVE. Paige Spara and Freddie Highmore in ‘The Good Doctor.’ ABC/Jeff Weddell

As for his character’s friendship and working relationship with Dr. Aaron Glassman, who has been the younger doctor’s mentor since he was 14, Freddie shared, “Shaun and Dr. Glassman’s relationship this year is going to go through some necessary changes.”

“Obviously, Shaun is now married. Lea is the most important person in his life. And that role has always been, until very recently, Dr. Glassman. So, the two of them are going to have to reevaluate and reset what their relationship is.”

And regarding Dr. Murphy and Dr. Alex Park (Will Yun Lee), who are both promoted to surgical attending in this new season, Freddie pointed out, “They’re sharing an office this year, which is exciting. They are getting to understand each other on a friendship level more than ever before.”

“But I think Shaun finds it difficult to share an office with him. There’s a sense of frustration at times but I really like the idea that deep down, the two of them have a lot in common, and exploring that friendship is something that’s really interesting this year.”

The series also stars Hill Harper (Dr. Marcus Andrews), Christina Chang (Dr. Audrey Lim), Fiona Gubelmann (Dr. Morgan Reznick), Noah Galvin (Dr. Asher Wolke), Bria Samoné Henderson (Dr. Jordan Allen), and recently announced as being promoted to series regular – Brandon Larracuente (Dr. Daniel Perez).

CAKE! Freddie Highmore celebrates with costars (from L): Hill Harper, Christina Chang, Fiona Gubelmann, Will Yun Lee, and Bria Samone Henderson. ABC/Jeff Weddell

Elfina Luk portrays Filipina nurse Dalisay Villanueva, who was one of the victims in a violent attack at the hospital.

The University of Cambridge graduate, who briefly thought of becoming a lawyer, said that he likes to continue directing episodes. He megged several episodes of The Good Doctor and also an episode of Bates Motel.

“I’ve loved both getting to write and direct on this show,” Freddie remarked. “I’m going to be able to direct another episode this season. And yeah, I love it.”

“I love being involved in the wider process and with directing, just getting to work with the actors on these small, little nuanced emotional beats and also figuring out how best to tell the story visually.”

I asked Freddie just for fun: if Dr. Murphy and Norman Bates get to meet somehow, what does he imagine that will be like and how will it end up?

“The first thing that strikes me is, it would be hard to film,” Freddie replied with a huge smile that lit up his face.

“I’m not sure how we’d do that one. I’d like to hope they’d get along. I guess they’d have me in common so they could use that as a starting point for connecting in some way.”

“It would be an interesting showdown. I think at their core, the two of them…despite Norman sometimes going off the rails, I always believed that he was a good person deep down. So, I have hope for a world where they could just be friends and live happily ever after.”

ON SET. Rappler columnist Ruben V. Nepales and Freddie Highmore on the Vancouver set of ‘The Good Doctor.’ Contributed photo

On being a virtual Vancouver resident, Freddie smiled again as he shared, “It’s incredible the amount of time that I’ve spent in Vancouver, because Bates Motel was filmed here and The Good Doctor is here. So, this is my 11th season in a row filming here.”

“It’s a beautiful city. It’s odd describing in a sense of distance because it has become such a big part of my life and is where I spend most of my time. The scenery is absolutely stunning and takes my breath away all the time.”

“The water, the mountains, the forest. It’s a beautiful city to live in. I love the smallness of it. Definitely, when I go back to London now, I’m sort of overwhelmed.”

“I know what city living is in Vancouver and it’s absolutely very different from the city that I grew up in. But the people are wonderful, the food is great, and I’m lucky to be here.”

Actor Daniel Dae Kim is one of the executive producers of The Good Doctor, which is a production of Sony Pictures Television and ABC Signature. Noting the potential of a Korean series of the same name, Daniel bought the rights and shopped the project around.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER. Daniel Dae Kim on the set of ‘The Good Doctor.’ ABC/Jeff Weddell

Eventually, Daniel found a collaborator in Sony Pictures Television. The beloved series has David Shore and Liz Friedman as executive producers and co-showrunners.

Daniel, who appeared as Dr. Jackson Han in season two and directed the “Growth Opportunities” episode in this season, and Freddie are also executive producers, along with Erin Gunn, Mike Listo, David Kim, Sebastian Lee, Thomas L. Moran, David Hoselton, Peter Blake, Jessica Grasl, Garrett Lerner, and Shawn Williamson. – Rappler.com

The Good Doctor Season 6 is now available in the Philippines on Prime Video.

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Ruben V. Nepales

Based in Los Angeles, Ruben V. Nepales is an award-winning journalist whose honors include prizes from the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards, a US-wide competition, and the Southern California Journalism Awards, presented by the Los Angeles Press Club.