ABC’s The Good Doctor is about to kick off its much-anticipated second season and viewers can’t wait to catch up with their favorite characters from San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
The first season ended with the surgical team facing some dire consequences for their past actions. In the final episode of the season, Dr. Aaron Glassman (played by Richard Schiff) was struggling to come to terms with his shocking cancer diagnosis. Viewers were left not only wondering about his health and well-being but also about whether or not he and Dr. Shaun Murphy (played by Freddie Highmore) would even still be employed at St. Bonaventure at the start of the new season. After learning of Dr. Glassman’s diagnosis, a distracted Shaun made a major mistake during a surgical procedure – an error which could have cost him his entire livelihood. Additionally, viewers were preparing to say goodbye to Dr. Jared Kalu (played by Chuku Modu), who was about to move on to a new career at another hospital, while also welcoming in brand new residents Dr. Morgan Reznick (played by Fiona Gubelmann) and Dr. Alex Park (played by Will Yun Lee).
With so much changing towards the end of the first season, the anticipation of what season two will bring is off the charts! Luckily for us, we were able to catch up with series star Nicholas Gonzalez who plays Dr. Neil Melendez on The Good Doctor. He filled us in on what fans can look forward to in the upcoming second season, as well as when we might learn a little about Dr. Melendez’s mysterious past, and much more.
Denise Caputo: When we last spoke, The Good Doctor had just officially announced its season two renewal, and now here we are just days away from the season two premiere! The buzz about the show is still going strong, even during the seasonal hiatus. Now, gearing up towards the premiere, The Good Doctor fans are pumped and so excited to see these characters back on screen again. What was the energy like back on set for season two after the highly successful first season?
Nicholas Gonzalez: It was an amazing vibe! On this show, everybody enjoys being together whether it’s while working or whether it’s on our off time when we all hang out together. Being able to all be back in the same city again and be here in Vancouver, everybody was excited. There was a really strong energy especially after such a great first season and more importantly, such a great reception for our first season. We just couldn’t wait to tell delve into these stories again. Whenever you’re dealing with a David Shore project, you just are so excited to see the next script.
DC: That’s awesome. So, thanks to ABC, I’ve actually been able to screen the first episode of the season.
NG: You have? I haven’t even seen it!
DC: You haven’t? Why? What have you been doing?
NG: No! I know I could, I just figured I’d wait a little bit, but part of me is just kind of like, well maybe I’ll get the link. What did you think?
DC: I loved it! I thought it was a great pick up from where you left off last season. I loved the fact that we weren’t left hanging in the balance, wondering what was going on with Dr. Glassman or the rest of the hospital staff. I think viewers will appreciate not being dragged on for multiple episodes before picking up with storylines, so that’s great. While I have seen the season premiere, the folks who are going to be reading this haven’t necessarily seen it yet, so what can you tell us about where we are when season two picks up and where the season is heading?
NG: Well, I think a lot has already been revealed. Dr. Glassman’s cancer is operable, so we’ll be delving into that. He has been relieved of duties as President of the hospital, and when we pick up Dr. Andrews is the new sheriff in town. We find out that he runs a very different ship than Dr. Glassman.
Additionally, I think we’re going to notice a big change in the look of the show. We have some beautiful, brand-new, extended sets this season. We’ll see a much bigger hospital that shows off the idea of what a hospital of this caliber in San Jose would look like. I think the set really does that justice. Just the sheer size and scope of the show should look very different. Do you agree?
DC: Yeah. I could see that in the premiere. It doesn’t hit you over the head so much in the first episode though.
NG: Yeah, I was hoping you wouldn’t suffer from that.
DC: Oh no, not at all. Maybe as the season moves on it might be more noticeable, but no. The premiere, at least, was very much in the same vein as last season. It fit pretty seamlessly.
NG: Awesome! To answer the second part of your question, about what else we can look forward to, with Melendez, he’s single. As the season goes on, we’re going to be delving into a bit of his love life outside of the hospital when we can. The thing with this show is it’s centered so much around Dr. Murphy that when it comes to characters for the rest of the cast, it’s meated out very democratically. Of course, these new characters need to be introduced. I know people really have a soft spot in their hearts for the cast of the first season, but now that we’ve added these new doctors we need to tell their story and get people on board with them as well. We do see a little bit more of Dr. Morgan Reznick and Dr. Alex Park, and even Dr. Lim’s story so we can build that world out a bit. You’ll see a little bit of a concentration there and a nice, healthy competition between Dr. Lim and Dr. Melendez for chief of surgery as well.
DC: Oooh. That should be interesting! You just mentioned the new additions to the cast, and the fans have given a very warm welcome to Fiona Gubelmann, Will Yun Lee, Christina Chang and Paige Spara who have all been upped to series regulars this season. Sadly though, we are also saying goodbye to one of the main cast members from the first season and a fan-favorite on the series, Chuku Modu. That’s going to be an emotional goodbye for viewers and I’m sure that was an emotional experience for the cast as well. What was his last day on set like? Was the whole cast on set to say goodbye to him?
NG: We weren’t all there when he physically picture wrapped, but we had all been around the set and especially hanging out with him when he was here to give him a proper send-off. He’s a dear, close friend of all of ours and even the new incoming cast that got to work with him last year absolutely loves him. He’s an amazing guy, and it’s very difficult to watch him go. I’m still just so shocked that he’s not with us on set anymore.
DC: The fans will definitely miss him! Now, with Dr. Glassman going through treatment, one of the concerns is that Dr. Shaun Murphy is losing his mentor, in a sense. He might need somebody to lean on and help him continue to navigate the world. Dr. Melendez definitely warmed up to Dr. Murphy last season, so can we maybe expect to see him take that on a little bit more of a mentoring role in season two?
NG: Oh for sure, I mean, these are my residents! I have to teach them – Melendez has to teach them and be there for them. So, definitely! You’re going to see a group effort when it comes to supporting Dr. Murphy. He still works with Dr. Glassman. Dr. Glassman is still there as a friend, but a lot is going to be coming from the whole team. Everybody kind of closes ranks and helps to teach Shaun what he needs to know, and of course, he’s teaching us as well.
DC: This season, we’ll get to see Freddie Highmore not only in front of the camera portraying Dr. Shaun Murphy, but also taking on more responsibility behind the camera with writing the first episode, and eventually directing an episode as well. What was it like working with Freddie in both capacities; as a scene partner in front of the camera and then with him running things behind the scenes?
NG: Well, Freddie’s already been a part of the show behind the scenes as a producer. He’s an active one, especially this year with him being in the writer’s room. It’s been great! He’s an extremely intelligent guy. He really gives the story structure, and one of the best things about him writing this first episode was that he gives Chuku a beautiful send-off. He gave him a lot of great stuff to do which just further proves that he belongs there. Freddie really gave a beautiful send-off to him, and I think that comes from having someone write the episode who is a dear friend and loves Chuku. It was great. He always wants what’s best for the show, so having him write and then direct – we are all excited. We all work well with each other. We all talk openly about our work. No one is above discussing their choices and asking questions of each other. We are all learning from each other, so having him be a part of that is really exciting.
DC: That’s great.
NG: Yeah! He’s just a very intuitive, deep guy anyway. We work with each other, not direct each other, but in many ways, we’ll turn to each other for choices, and he always has a very deep understanding of how the episode is working. I have full confidence in him. It’s very exciting.
DC: Can’t wait to see more from him as the season moves forward. Speaking of moving forward, one hot topic that has carried over from last season to the new season is Dr. Melendez’s past. Fans are dying to know anything, whether it’s neck tattoo-related or not.
NG: (laughs) I was going to say.
DC: (laughs) Are we going to learn anything about Dr. Melendez’s past during this season? Is there anything that you can tease?
NG: We are going to meet a little bit of his family, which is going to be interesting. There is still more to come. I’m excited to learn about it myself and see more about his past. We’re going to get a big, healthy dose of that within the first few episodes. We are working on episode 7 right now, and we’ve already filmed it a few episodes back, so within the first few, it will be introduced.
DC: Now, that’s super exciting news! Can’t wait to see that unfold! Knowing what you know so far about the second season, what are you most excited for fans to see and experience from this season?
NG: What I’m most excited about is that I think the show engenders a bit of debate. We take a lot of very hot topics that are straight out of the headlines, we argue about them on screen, and we deal with them. A lot of times, it never ends in the outcome that you’d expect. There’s always some twist, or there’s some logic that you’re looking at that may make you look at things a little differently. That’s what I get really excited about with this show. I think it engenders conversation.
Honestly, more than anything, I really love the way people are now talking about non-neuronormative people. They are more accepting and are interested in that topic now. They’re just opening minds, and that’s what really gets me excited! We’re also all so invested with what we’re putting onto the screen, so I’m just looking forward to seeing the reactions to all that, and I’m really excited about healthy debate and opening minds.
DC: Stepping outside of the world of The Good Doctor for a little bit, and into the world of social media, I see you often using your platforms not only for promotion of the show but also to help different causes and organizations that are clearly close to your heart. I love seeing that from you and wanted to give you the opportunity to shout out any upcoming events that you may be working on or supporting.
NG: Yeah! On Thursday, I’m flying to San Antonio, Texas, my hometown. My sister-in-law is on the board of an organization called CASA, which means house in Spanish, but for them, it stands for Child Advocates San Antonio. Their mission is to recruit and train volunteers to assist in helping and to care for neglected children in the San Antonio area whether they’ve been abused or abandoned. It’s just a great organization. When children are involved, it’s easy for me.
I don’t spread myself thin when it comes to causes. I like championing them. I’m not a big fan of politics, but for some reason, I keep getting pulled in. I may be campaigning for Beto O’Rourke in Texas later next month. When it comes to causes, anything involving children is special to me. The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been a big one for me. I do a blood drive there every year. It’s a little bit harder now that I’ve been in Vancouver, and we had to figure all that out, but we’ve been doing it for about eight years. We always have all our celebrity friends come up and say hello. We tour the hospital and see the kids. We fill the blood bank for the month by bringing in all these donors. It’s just tough seeing people sick and hurting and, the worst, dying, but it’s even more heartbreaking seeing it happen to children, so it’s something that I will always make time for.
The only other organization that I hold very dearly is an orphanage in Tijuana. My acting coach and her husband essentially adopted this orphanage and it became their children. They don’t have children of their own, and they take groups of actors, friends, really anyone who wants to visit. It’s all about loving on those kids, giving them a pat on the back and saying, “good job,” playing with them, doing crafts, or being a listening ear. I’ve been going down there for over ten years.
DC: Oh wow!
NG: Yeah. I’ve watched these kids grow up. Thankfully, a lot of them are going to school and college and finding themselves careers. We have a physician and a veterinarian. We have beauty school graduates and so many others. For me, it’s just a matter of, “if you can make someone’s life better, you should try.”
DC: Absolutely. That’s all wonderful. Thank you for doing all of that. That’s great.
NG: Yeah, there are so many more people that do so much more than me.
DC: It all starts somewhere, and you’re making a difference in their lives. That’s all that matters. Before we wrap up our conversation, is there anything else that you want to tell our readers, or that you would like to say to the fans of The Good Doctor?
NG: Nothing other than, they really make the show for us. We don’t get excited just to do the work, although it is very fun and we love being around each other. The idea that people are actually watching, listening and are being affected so deeply by our show, and that it’s hopefully changing the way they look at people around them that are non-neuronormative – I just can’t thank fans and viewers enough for making us relevant and for allowing us to be here. Also, this is a livelihood for me, my wife, and my daughter and that’s all very important to me. I just can’t give enough thanks to the fans.
Once again, sending a big thanks to Nicholas Gonzalez for speaking with us about the upcoming second season.
In addition to Gonzalez, the series stars Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne, Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews, Richard Schiff as Dr. Aaron Glassman, Tamlyn Tomita as Allegra Aoki, Christina Chang as Dr. Audrey Lim, Fiona Gubelmann as Dr. Morgan Reznick, Will Yun Lee as Dr. Alex Park and Paige Spara as Lea Dilallo. The series is created by David Shore who also serves executive producer along with Daniel Dae Kim, David Kim, and Sebastian Lee.
Make sure you tune in on Monday, September 24th at 10 PM EST for the season 2 premiere of ABC’s The Good Doctor. Check out our preview of the premiere episode HERE.
What are you most looking forward to seeing in the upcoming season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.