The Good Doctor star Freddie Highmore on directing Shaun and Lea's 'big moment'
In the ABC medical drama’s previous episode, Dr. Carly Lever broke up with Shaun because she’s convinced he’s actually in love with his best friend/former roommate Lea and needs to tell her how he feels. That conversation weighs heavily on Shaun coming into this week’s installment, titled “Autopsy,” because Shaun realizes that Carly might be right; however, following through on Carly’s advice proves to be a challenge because he also becomes obsessed with performing an autopsy on a deceased patient.
“There’s an underlying fun to the episode,” Highmore tells EW. “Shaun and Park go off on this investigative journey as they dig into this case. Shaun gets very on-board with the idea of this undercover investigation of sorts that takes them outside of the hospital. That has a fun energy that drives things forward.” He continues: “What’s underlying Shaun’s quest in [episode] 16 more generally is the idea that he needs to tell Lea the truth and that he needs to be open with her and try to communicate to her how he feels. But that’s easier said than done.”
But, Shaun does eventually get there, and helming an episode with such an important moment for Shaun and Lea was one of the most rewarding aspects of Highmore’s latest directorial effort.
“Paige [Spara], who plays Lea, is absolutely brilliant in this episode,” says Highmore, who previously directed a season 2 episode of The Good Doctor and an episode of Bates Motel. “The Shaun and Lea story line: What’s lovely about this episode is that it feels like it reaches this big moment that’s been coming for quite some time. Every episode is wonderful, but some set things up more than they pay things off. This one, of course, felt a little more of the payoff that you get to play with.”
When the 28-year-old read the script for the first time, he was immediately drawn to how much wasn’t being said by the characters. “So much of what’s important in this episode plays in silences, and I guess the very last scene ends up being the culmination of that and the biggest part of that,” he says. “That’s always exciting as a director — that it isn’t the lines of dialogue that are ultimately driving the story. It’s the looks between people, it’s the silences, and moments of people knowing what the other person is thinking, or [guessing] what the other person is thinking but without needing to explicitly state it. That jumped out at me from the start.”
He adds, “David Hoselton, who wrote this particular episode, is always so wonderful about digging in moments like that in his writing that hopefully, at the end of the day, will feel heartbreaking and meaningful but without it being done in a heavy-handed way at all.”
The medical case-of-the-week — which involves Dr. Claire Browne, Dr. Morgan Reznick, and Dr. Marcus Andrew treating a college student with a mysterious split personality disorder — was also another one of the highlights of the episode for Highmore.
“[The case] required a great actor to come in, and even though they are the same person, digging out these two different characters that are contained within one. So, that felt like a challenge, but one that paid off.”
Highmore also loved Dr. Audrey Lim’s subplot in the hour because “Christina played [it] so well,” he says. “It’s sort of [about] her being reminded about what the meaningful things in life are, and I think it’s a lesson that everyone can take something away from in their day-to-day lives.”
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
The Good Doctor