Fiona Gubelmann Talks “Inclusivity and Inspiration” on ‘The Good Doctor’ (Interview)
ABC’s The Good Doctor has officially returned for its second season, and we had the delightful pleasure of chatting with newly-promoted series regular Fiona Gubelmann!
Gubelmann plays the driven and competitive Dr. Morgan Reznick on the hit drama. She spoke with us about her love for her character and what we can expect to see from her in the new season. Hint: There’s a whole lot more of Morgan still to come! Additionally, we spoke about the show’s impact on its audience, what it was like stepping onto The Good Doctor set for the first time, the incredible bond the cast has formed, and much, much more!
Denise Caputo: First and foremost, congratulations on your promotion to series regular! I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of your character in season 2! Before we talk about season two of The Good Doctor, let’s talk just a little bit about your entrance onto the show last season. Your character, Dr. Morgan Reznick, came on to the scene and immediately started ruffling feathers, mostly those belonging to Dr. Claire Browne. Tell me about what it was like stepping into a role like that knowing that your character would be, for lack of a better term, “the bad guy?”
Fiona Gubelmann: Thank you so much, thank you. It’s been so much fun to get to play Morgan! I fell in love with her right away. She’s unlike any character that I’ve ever had the opportunity to play before, so it was a very exciting challenge, and a fun way to grow and stretch myself.
I was a huge fan of the show before I got to work on it, so I knew all the characters pretty well. I was such a fan of Claire, and I was so nervous cause my character is not the friendliest to her. I would have to keep apologizing to Antonia [Thomas] between scenes. I would say, “I hope you know that this isn’t me.” I would be apologizing to her because I felt so mean! I knew that fans were not going to necessarily like me, especially cause I was going in there and challenging Claire and Shaun, fan favorites, so I knew that was definitely something that would happen. I didn’t mind.
It’s kind of fun being sort of a villain character, seeing the way that it ruffles people’s feathers and it upsets them. I feel like whenever people say, “I hate you,” that I’m doing my job really well. I take it as a compliment.
DC: This is the first time you’ve played a semi-villainous character?
FG: Absolutely. It’s the first time I’ve played a character that’s not likable or bubbly or funny or goofy and silly. It’s definitely the first time I’ve played a character like this.
DC: Awesome. Your background has a good mix of drama and comedy; Coming onto The Good Doctor, aside from just being a fan of the show, was there something specific in the script or in the show itself that drew you to this world and to that character?
FG: I was drawn to the fact that she’s this brilliant, driven, unapologetic woman, and getting to play such a strong character is not something I’ve ever done before. I wanted this part and just playing Morgan has been so empowering for me as a person. I’ve learned a lot as an artist and have really grown by getting to play her.
DC: Awesome. Well, you seemed to transition seamlessly onto the show. From all the social media post we see, the cast clearly has a ton of fun on set and offset as well. Did you feel instant chemistry with the rest of the cast and can you tell me a little about what it’s like working with the season one original cast?
FG: Aw, thank you. Oh my gosh, it was a dream! I was so nervous stepping onto a drama set and knowing that I was possibly going to be committing for the next six or seven years without ever having met anybody, but when I stepped on set, I felt like I was already home. Everyone was so warm and so friendly. It’s so funny because Claire and Morgan butt heads all the time, and yet Antonia and I get along so well. We have so much fun together. I already knew Nick [Gonzalez] from before, and I’m friends with him and his wife. I love Will [Yun Lee] and Christina [Chang]! We all get along so well it’s ridiculous. I can’t believe how lucky we all are to like each other so much. We get together and hang out on the weekends, and last season we would get together and watch the show and live tweet. We’re going to do that again this season. It’s just nice that we have such a great family here at work, and that’s just the cast. We have such a terrific crew too! I love every single person I get to come to work with every day.
DC: That’s fantastic to hear! Viewers fell in love with the cast and show immediately in the first season, and that love has more than carried over, if not tremendously increased heading into season two. What are your thoughts about the impact that the show is having on people’s lives and the reception that you’ve received from viewers?
FG: It’s amazing! It’s such an incredible feeling to know that this show is positively impacting people’s lives. It’s a show that has such a strong message of inclusivity and inspiration, and being a part of something like that is so rare. We all feel so honored to be a part of something like this.
You hear stories from people about how the show has affected them in their lives, how it’s given inspiration to autistic family members and even beyond the scope of autism. The message is inspiring and empowering to all people with obstacles and challenges in their lives. For example, look at the fact that David Shore and the writers have worked so hard to create such strong, intelligent female roles, or how they are creating role models for women. The writers work so hard to deal with subject matter that is sparking conversations with people and hopefully changing perspectives or understandings about certain issues. On so many different aspects and levels of the show, the message is all about inclusivity and inspiration, and it’s just so cool to be a part of that!
DC: That’s awesome!
FG: I know, can you tell I love this show? I’m so obnoxious. (laughs)
DC: (laughs) You all do! I had the opportunity to speak with Nicholas Gonzalez during the show’s first season and again just last week as well as with Tamlyn Tomita last season, and you all genuinely gush over the show’s message and how much it means to you. Honestly, it makes me love the show and this cast just so much more. It’s so fantastic.
FG: Thank you! You know why? It’s because you work long enough in this industry, that when you’re actually in this situation, you know how rare it is, how special and precious it is. You know it’s not every day and every job that’s going to be like this, so I think we all, having been seasoned actors, can appreciate it. We really do!
DC: I think that appreciation comes across clearly to the viewers and your fans. The passion behind this show is very clear. Now, let’s fast forward to season two. Personally, I love your character. I think Morgan may not be the most likable on the show, but I think she adds an interesting dynamic. Now that you’re a series regular, I’m hoping we get to see learn a lot more about her. Is there anything you can tease for us about Morgan this season?
FG: First off, thank you for all of that. That means a lot. I really love her so much, thank you. What’s fun about season two with Morgan is that the audience is going to get to see her, who she is, where she comes from, and why she is the way she is. The show is going to explore her relationships with other cast members further, so you’ll get to see more of the Claire-Morgan and Shaun-Morgan relationships, as well as her relationships with some of the other characters. This season we’ll see that depth of person to her instead of her just being one-dimensional. As we learn more about her, we’re going to have more of an understanding and maybe more empathy for her. Maybe not. Either way, I think people are going to get to know her a lot better. It’s going to be a lot of fun. She has some fantastic stuff this season.
DC: We got to see a little bit of that in the very first episode of the season. Claire stands up to Morgan, really for the first time. That was a really cool moment in the show.
FG: I know! I think Morgan liked it. That’s the thing with Morgan. She is very competitive. She’s not going to throw you under the bus. She’s not going to take a bat to the back of your knees, but she’s going to compete against you to the best of her abilities. She’s a very strong woman, so I think that’s why she looks up to Dr. Lim. She respects her a lot. I think when it comes to Claire, I would never want someone to think it’s just two women being pitted against each other because there are two women competing for something. That’s not the message we’re sending. Morgan is intimidated by Claire. Morgan knows that Claire is her competition, and Morgan knows that Claire is a very smart, talented doctor who has skills that are unique and separate from Morgan’s.
Personally, I also think that Morgan sometimes wishes that Claire were stronger, and being more aggressive. I think that she’s pushing Claire a bit to be stronger and when she steps up at the end of episode one of season two, Morgan likes it. It’s exciting for her, and its like, “game on.” It was a fun moment to play.
DC: Fans of the show are pumped for this season. I’m pumped for this season. Everyone is excited to see all of these characters back on our screens. What are you most excited for viewers to see in season two?
FG: When the show airs, it’s so much fun to see the fan reactions week to week. We’re doing this for the fans, at the end of the day. I’m always so excited when the show’s running because then it’s all worth it. Plus, I think we have some incredible scripts this season with some crazy storylines! I’m excited for fans to see what we have in store. I’m also really selfishly and personally curious to see how fans react to Morgan’s backstory as well as just her development with the other characters, and her personal growth.
DC: Great! Here at Fan Fest News, we celebrate all the things that we love and that our readers love as fans, whether it’s music, film, television, books, and so on. Right now, in today’s pop culture world, what are some things that you fangirl over? What are you a fan of nowadays?
FG: I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, and I love Schitt’s Creek. I recently started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and that’s lots of fun. Oh God, I watch way too much TV. I love comedy, and I love science fiction and fantasy, so a lot of things in those genres are right up there for me.
It’s been so beautiful up here the past few months, and I’ve been spending all my time outdoors biking, hiking, and exploring Vancouver too.
DC: Awesome. To wrap everything up, is there anything else you would like to say to the fans of The Good Doctor?
FG: I just want to thank all the fans so much for being so incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. They have no idea how much their support and encouragement, the interactions on Instagram and Twitter, how much that all means to us. Please continue it and continue to reach out because it’s the reason why we’re doing this. We just want to enjoy it with them as much as we can.
Thank you, Fiona Gubelmann, for taking time out of your busy filming schedule to speak with us about Dr. Morgan Reznick and what’s in store for her this season on The Good Doctor.
In addition to Gubelmann, the series stars Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez, 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 nights at 10/9 central for all-new episodes of ABC’s The Good Doctor, and tweet along with the cast while you’re at it!
What are you most looking forward to seeing in the upcoming season? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.