‘The Good Doctor’: Shaun Murphy Isn’t the Only Complex Character Freddie Highmore Has Played In His Career

The Good Doctor star Freddie Highmore has put hours of research into mastering the role of autistic savant Dr. Shaun Murphy. Now in its fourth season, The Good Doctor has showed the trials and tribulations Murphy has faced since becoming a surgical resident at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital — and Highmore has seemingly mastered the difficult role. But it’s not the only time he’s found himself embracing a complex character.

Freddie Highmore plays Dr. Shaun Murphy on 'The Good Doctor'
Freddie Highmore plays Dr. Shaun Murphy on ‘The Good Doctor’ | Eike Schroter/Getty Images

Freddie Highmore has done hours of research for ‘The Good Doctor’

When Highmore was cast for the role of Murphy, he knew there was a lot of work to be done. Good Housekeeping reported that, prior to filming the first episode, Highmore and the show’s creator, David Shore, put in hours of research to help Highmore properly portray such an important role.

The show hired autism consultant Melissa Reiner, who offered additional help in getting the character exactly as he was envisioned. “David Shore, our wonderful main writer and showrunner, and I sat down before the pilot–and also between the pilot and making the show–with the consultant that we still have on-board,” Highmore told film critic Peter Travers on his podcast.

Highmore revealed that he and Reiner exchanged various documentaries and books about the condition as well, which Highmore reviewed and studied to help develop his character.

'The Good Doctor'
‘The Good Doctor’ | David Bukach/Getty Images

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Highmore has received words of praise for his role

Millions tune into The Good Doctor each week, and Highmore continues to learn from his role by speaking with those who live with autism. “I’m constantly learning.” He revealed to Digital Spy in 2019. “Aside from continual research, or working with the consultant that we have, I’m also talking to people who feel that they have a personal connection to the show through autism, and are pleased or thankful that the show is seeking to raise awareness in that way.”

Highmore noted that playing the role of Murphy is something he’s “proud” to be involved in. “it seemed like an incredibly important project,” he said, “and that’s why I wanted to be a part of it. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Highmore’s role as Norman Bates on ‘Bates Motel’ offered different complexities

People might recognize Highmore from another intriguing show: Bates Motel. The horror drama aired on A&E form 2013 to 2017, ending shortly before The Good Doctor premiered. Highmore played Norman Bates, a teenager who struggled with psychological issues; the show is a prequel to the movie “Psycho” and shows Bates’ life leading up to when be becomes a murderer.

Freddie Highmore played Norman Bates on 'Bates Motel' from 2013-2017.
Freddie Highmore played Norman Bates on ‘Bates Motel’ from 2013-2017. | Carole Segal/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Though the roles of Norman Bates and Shaun Murphy differ drastically, they both involved heavy research on Highmore’s part in order to accurately portray such complex characters. “It’s that dramatic irony that people will always have the knowledge that he’s going to end up killing people,” Highmore told Collider of Norman Bates back in 2013. “Norman might not realize it, but there’s something else there that’s not quite right … “He has this opportunity not to be a killer, but we all know that he’s going to end up having to do people in.”

Highmore starred in Bates Motel for five seasons, developing his character more and more as the show continued. Stepping into the role of Dr. Murphy wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t the first time Highmore’s talent as an actor has been showcased. His ability to devour such intricate roles has made him a nominee or winner for various Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice awards.