TORONTO — “The Good Doctor” star Freddie Highmore says production on the medical drama is continuing in Vancouver, after the COVID-19 diagnoses of co-stars Richard Schiff and Sheila Kelley.
Schiff posted on his verified Twitter account this week that he and Kelley, who is his wife both on the show and in real life, have the novel coronavirus.
He says he tested positive on Nov. 3, adding that Kelley also contracted it and “it’s been the most bizarre week” of their lives,as the show’s new season addresses the pandemic.
Kelley also posted about testing positive on her verified Instagram account, saying they’re quarantined at home in Vancouver and finding their “symptoms change radically, daily, even hourly.” She later wrote they didn’t contract the virus on set.
Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to comment on the diagnoses, but Highmore tells The Canadian Press that cameras are still rolling on the show, which airs Mondays on ABC and CTV.
“We’re still continuing filming,” Highmore said Wednesday in an interview.
“Of course the most important thing is that we’re very much hoping that Richard and Sheila have a speedy recovery and that we’re all thinking of them.”
Highmore stars in the series as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome.
Schiff co-stars as the president of the fictional St. Bonaventure Hospital, and Kelley plays his office manager and wife.
Season 4 debuted last week and sees the doctors dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, starting from the beginning in late February, when not much was known about the disease.
“It felt like we had a responsibility to share these stories from the pandemic and how it related to the doctors,” Highmore said, “and through that, pay tribute to the real-life frontline workers and everything that they’ve been going through — and the heroism that they’ve displayed in these last few months.”
Highmore said the show donated personal protective equipment to frontline health-care workers in March.
The writing staff includes doctors who’ve helped come up with the pandemic stories.
“I think that was especially important in those first two episodes, to reflect that reality as best we can and … hope to foster a greater sense of understanding and therefore compassion and therefore gratitude for our real-life doctors,” said the Golden Globe-nominated actor, who hails from London.
As the season moves on, the storylines will “move into a world where the focus isn’t on the pandemic” and “into a slightly more hopeful vision for the future,” he added.
Highmore said cast members get tested for COVID-19 three times a week. Every day when they arrive on set, they fill out a health and safety questionnaire, have their temperature taken and wear wristbands to demonstrate they’ve been through those checks.
They wear masks at all times, “until that very last moment” when the director yells “action” and they have to be in a scene that doesn’t require a mask, he said.
Of course, given it’s a medical drama, it’s not unusual to wear a mask in a scene. But the characters wore them more than ever in the first two episodes of season 4, as part of the storyline, so the cast quickly got used to them, Highmore said.
“It does feel like as safe an environment as it can be during these times, and I think all of us are really appreciative of that and also feel fortunate to be able to be back to work and telling these stories.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2020.