Freddie Highmore Stars In "The Good Doctor" And Tackles Autism Head-On

Date December 19, 2017 16:37

Freddie Highmore is well known for his portrayal of Norman Bates in the television drama series, Bates Motel. He has made a surprising departure from the violent portrayals that earned him a massive following. Now he plays a lead role in the new ABC series, The Good Doctor.

Freddie Highmore in Bates Motel (2013) / American Genre Film Archive

Freddie is Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young man diagnosed with autism and Savant syndrome. He earns a placement in a renowned hospital. For the 25-year-old actor, taking on this role meant a lot more than another job. He confesses that he has been concerned for a while about the perceptions a lot of people have about individuals with autism.

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Freddie goes on to explain in a recent interview that a lot of people share misconceptions about people with autism. Many expect that these individual are incapable of experiencing the same range of emotions other people do.

Freddie Highmore in The Good Doctor (2017) / 3AD

Breaking stereotypes.

Speaking on the purpose for the new series, Freddie says:

What we are trying to do is moving away from perhaps the stereotypical versions of people with autism that have been shown on television and in certain movies in the past.

A lot of this can be attributed to the difficulties they experience with social interaction. Freddie notes that his character has been created to break this stereotype, among others. He says:

In the world today with lots of trouble on a daily basis, the idea of someone who has a wonderful heart and tries to do the right thing is someone people are drawn to.

Freddie believes that positive portrayals of people with autism can help a great deal in educating the public and helping them understand that being different does not exclude an individual from a normal human interaction.


People with autism have feelings too.

The lead also shed some light on the shows premise and his concerns about the character of Shaun and his process for character development:

I knew people personally before this show came along who have autism. But when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. That’s important to remember with Shaun, constructing him as an individual. He can’t represent everyone on the spectrum, in the same way your ‘typical’ lead character on a show can’t possibly represent everyone.

People with autism have feelings. They can respond to warmth and understand love like other people do.

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Positive feedback

Freddie is clearly doing a brilliant job as his performance on The Good Doctor has endeared him even more to his fans and is getting more press. Only recently he got nominated for the Golden Globe and SAG Awards.


Most of the feedback has been positive and ratings for The Good Doctor are going up, even higher than the competition from NBC and their drama series, This Is UsThe Good Doctor is a fan favorite and a lot of this is attributed to the empathy a lot of people still have for individuals with autism. Freddie comments:

I think it's [Shaun's] hopefulness…and his positivity, his desire to always see the good in people, that makes him attractive. People want to root for someone like that in the times in which we're living.

The show is more than just entertainment. It carries a very important message about autism and the need to embrace and accommodate individuals who suffer the condition. We expect The Good Doctor to be around for a long time, and believe it will go a long way in changing perceptions of people with autism worldwide.

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