The Good Doctor is the hottest show on television right now. With its captivating storylines, high stakes drama and, of course, Freddie Highmore's sensitive and thoughtful portrayal of autistic Dr Shaun Murphy - the show is a certified hit!
The Good Doctor came to Freddie three days after his work on Bates Motel - in which he played Norman Bates - wrapped, and he reveals to New Idea why he almost didn't take the role.
'It was just three days after finishing the last scene of Bates Motel in Vancouver, and I came to LA before heading off to London. I was reading the script for the pilot of The Good Doctor and I met with David Shaw and Seth Gordon, who was the director of the pilot, and it came together from that meeting,' Freddie recalls. 'They had me in mind [for the role]. It was a quick turn around and I needed to make a quick decision.
'The only thing that made me hesitate was that it couldn't possibly quite be true you could finish one show, playing one amazing character, and then a couple of days later be offered something else. I've certainly been very lucky.'
Switching from Norman to Dr Murphy in such a quick succession might overwhelm some, but Freddie confidently embraced the challenge.
'They're two very distinct characters,' Freddie explains. 'It wasn't too tricky because it was entirely something new and different to switch into. It never became confusing.'
To get into the mind of Shaun, Freddie immersed himself in all types of research.
'I had personal relationships with people who have autism even before this came along,' Freddie reveals. 'But aside from that, I watched documentaries read pieces of literature and we had an autism consultant who was there in all aspects of production, and continues to be part of the show.'
Freddie also loves the authenticity of his character.
'One of the things I loved most about the script from the very beginning was that Shaun wasn't emotionless - which is such a stereotype of someone with autism, that they're devoid of emotion and they're not experiencing a full range of emotions,' Freddie describes. 'That's of course complete nonsense. [Our show] doesn't deny the very real struggles Shaun faces because he has autism, but in fact it celebrates it.
'It celebrates the difference and his moments of joy and what makes him laugh, what makes him happy and we'll even see him start to fall in love this season. It's sad it needs to be stated that Shaun is a fully formed individual.'
The Good Doctor is just another accomplishment in an already charmed career for the 25-year-old. With two successful TV shows in his 20s, plus major Hollywood films as a child - which include Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland - Freddie credits his London roots for not falling into the wayward child star trope.
'I was lucky to have been brought up in London, and obviously my family were always there to make sure I stayed on the right track,' he says. 'I think growing up as an actor in LA, you would very quickly be defined as a child actor. For me, there were greater possibilities to do other stuff in London.'
For the full story see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!