On set, he’s gifted autistic surgeon Doctor Shaun Murphy. Off it, he’s 26-year old British actor Freddie Highmore.
The second season of The Good Doctor has just begun, and there’s been a hugely positive reaction towards the show. Freddie thinks there’s a simple reason for its success. “I think having someone like Shaun who’s just refreshingly always trying to see the good in people, and reminds us that humanity I think at its core is essentially good, is lovely.”
The Good Doctor is breaking ratings records and, more importantly, breaking down barriers for people with autism. It centres on Doctor Shaun Murphy, who displays extraordinary abilities to diagnose and treat patients in the emergency department at St Bonaventure Hospital.
For Freddie, he sees the show as an important catalyst. “If anything, I hope the show can spark further discussion about not just about people with autism, but how people with autism are treated in the workplace.”
It’s important to Freddie and the show’s creators that the role is portrayed genuinely. They have a consultant who helps keep The Good Doctor authentic. “Melissa was there throughout all the pilot, and continues to be there now [when] we’re shooting and reads all the scripts, and offers ideas that then help us come up with this one unique individual.”
Freddie’s dad was an actor, and Freddie himself started at an early age. “Growing up, the focus of my life wasn’t acting. It was being at school and trying to get into the soccer team and getting my homework in and stuff like that.”
While still in primary school, aged 10, Freddie scored a breakout role in the fantasy drama Finding Neverland, alongside Jonny Depp and Kate Winslet.
That led him to be cast as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory alongside Depp again, and with the late Robin Williams in August Rush.
For Freddie, acting wasn’t everything. He soon turned his attention to full-time study. He went to Cambridge University to study Arabic and Spanish.
But it would be in the major TV drama series Bates Motel where Freddie’s adult acting career really took off. Freddie starred as the evil Norman Bates in a show based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, Psycho.
“There’s something satisfying about having spent five years with a character and completed that arc, and I think Bates Motel will always be special to me in that way.”
Now with the success of The Good Doctor, Freddie is still adjusting to the notoriety that comes with the acclaim. “I guess when you stand around outside with cameras pointing at you, it draws a certain amount of attention, but in general I think it’s pretty good.”
Reporter: Alex Cullen
Producers: Paul Waterhouse