Last week in Los Angeles, the cast of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” took the Dolby stage for PaleyFest 2018.
The panel included a screening of tonight’s season 1 finale, followed by a Q&A moderated by local LA entertainment guru George Pennacchio.
“The Good Doctor” stars Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgical resident with autism. }The series explores the benefits and pitfalls of an autistic surgeon, and the challenges he faces in earning the respect of his fellow residents.
Panelists at the event included stars Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Gonzalez, Antonia Thomas, Tamlyn Tomita, Hill Harper, Richard Schiff. Executive Producer Daniel Dae Kim, and creator/showrunner David Shore were also in attendance.
“The Good Doctor” was a hit from the first episode, earning a full season order within the first few weeks of airing. It was one of the earliest shows renewed for a second season, and is ABC’s most-watched new series of 2017. Freddie Highmore earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in season 1.
During the Q&A, the cast and producers discussed their feelings about the first season, being embraced by fans, and their hopes for the future of the show.
Nicholas Gonzalez discussed his feelings about the writing. “This doesn’t come along often…I spent a big chunk of my career with sub-par writing, but that’s part of this job… You pay your dues. So much of that came so that we can do this show. It puts you in a particular place to be ready when it happens.”
Freddie Highmore talked about the response he has received from the autism community:
“I think that’s been one of the most inspiring things about continually working on the show. The positive reception from those who have autism, and those who care for them…Shaun is never going to be able to be representative of everyone in the community, in the same way other characters in other shows aren’t representative of everyone who’s neurotypical in the world.”
He went on to discuss developing Shaun Murphy’s character by saying:
“In constructing the character of Shaun, we wanted to make him authentic. It was remaining true to the reality. But at the same time, it was constructing him as an individual in his own right. Finding out about his hopes and desires and his sense of humor and the people that he falls in love with. The people he connects with that may not necessarily have anything to do with him, in fact.”
And he added:
“Of course we hope that the show raises awareness. But it’s also about following Shaun on his own individual journey.”
Daniel Dae Kim, who starred on the long-running series “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-0,” works as an executive producer on this show. When Pennacchio asked if he would ever guest star on the series, he said, “I would love to at some point. I’m such a fan…As satisfied as I’ve been watching from behind the monitors…there’s a part of me as an actor that really wants to play with these talented people.”
Showrunner David Shore jumped in to add his praise for the cast, and also said, “Daniel, you had your chance. You were in the pilot.” To which Kim responded, “It’s true. I didn’t make the cut.”
Hill Harper stars as Dr. Marcus Andrews, someone with designs to get Dr. Glassman out of his job. His character is seen as a sort of villain and he said:
“People will come up to me on the street and say, ‘You’re the bad doctor on ‘The Good Doctor.’ And, you know, it’s not really that. And that’s what I love about how it’s been written. He has ambition and he sees the world in a specific way. And I think that seeing his home life opens him to a level of vulnerability that you don’t normally see.”
Shore talked further about crafting Shaun Murphy, and how his character interacts with the others on the show.
“There’s a temptation to draw him into normalcy, for want of a better word. And I think what separates this show is, I hope, and I know, he’s specific and he’s real and he communicates so much, just not in a usual way. And other people around him respond to that.”
And then Pennacchio said, “A lot of the other panels this week are giving scoop to their audiences, and I know you don’t want to disappoint all of these people. Is there something we can look ahead to this season?”
He laughed and said, “We just aired the episode four days in advance!” And then he added:
“We brought in some new directors in the season and we’ll hopefully be working more with them. The writers’ room is starting up soon. I’m looking forward to exploring the fallout of what we just saw. Exploring these things slowly, but honestly.”
Pennacchio finished up his Q&A asking Kim about the tribute to the original Korean series, upon which it is based. Kim explained that the original series is much different, but that this is the first Korean drama brought to the US and receiving a second season. “It was very important to pay tribute to that.”