The Good Doctor is back for its third season, and this time, the show is following Dr. Shaun Murphy as he explores a whole new and tricky world; the world of dating. Shaun, played by series star Freddie Highmore, is learning the trials and tribulations of romance while beginning his first real relationship with pathologist Carly Lever, played by newly-promoted series regular Jasika Nicole.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jasika about her role in the popular drama series. She told us about landing the role of Carly, working with the cast, what the future may hold for Shaun and Carly, and much more!
Denise Caputo: Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I’m a super fan of the show myself, and your character, Carly. Congratulations on your promotion to series regular! I think it’s safe to say the whole Good Doctor fan base has embraced the character. They love her. They love her and Shaun and want to see that develop further, and everyone’s excited about that.
Jasika Nicole: Thank you! That’s great. Yay! That’s really good to hear.
DC: She’s such a cool character, and we’re all excited to see what season three has in store for her. Before we get to talking about season 3, tell me what it was about the role that interested you, and how did you come to land the role of Carly on the show?
JN: Well, it was initially just a recurring character on the show and they didn’t have a big character description for Carly. It just said she’s a pathologist and she works in the lab, which was very funny to me because my last big show I was on I was in a lab the entire five seasons. So I thought, “Oh wow, here I am again.” There was one word in the character description, it said that she was cute and I thought, “if she’s cute, there’s a reason she’s cute.” I thought that they might tease a little kind of flirting relationship between the two characters, but again, I was just recurring. I think I did maybe two or three episodes in the first season. They said they wanted to bring me back for the second season in the beginning and they just didn’t do it. So I thought, “Oh, they’re probably going in a different direction with this character.” So, I was really happy that I got to meet the cast because I really loved everybody in the cast, but this is kind of the life of an actor. You move from job to job and you try not to get too attached.
When they ended up bringing me back for season two, towards the end, and there was kind of this build that was happening between Carly and Shaun, I thought, “that would be so cool if Carly were a bigger part of this story than I initially thought that she would be.” But I didn’t put a lot of stock into that because it’s television and they kind of have to serve the narrative. I knew that they liked me being on the show, but I didn’t have a lot of trust that I would be a more significant part of the show. It was a huge surprise when they said they wanted to bring her on full-time for season three. It’s such a compliment to an actor to be brought on in a smaller capacity and to feel like you’ve proven yourself enough that they want to keep you on and explore more of what you could do on the show. It feels even bigger than just being cast in a pilot and going to series because it means that they didn’t think you were going to be that big of a part in the beginning, but they found a way to make Carly a bigger role. I feel really lucky and thankful to be a part of this show
DC: That’s great. And we, the fans, love you and you’re doing a great job so far.
JN: Thank you.
DC: Of course! Now that you are a regular on the series, how has that transition been in terms of like filming and working with the cast? How has that experience been?
JN: It’s been so great! The show films in Vancouver, which is again where I shot another show for like four years, so I’m very familiar with the city. I know Vancouver pretty well, so it was more about the fact that there’s already an established family on a show that’s been around for a few seasons. When you kind of slide into there and you’re like, “Hey guys! I’m your cousin now,” you never know how it’s going to be. Everybody has different relationship dynamics and different work habits that don’t always mesh well together, but I have to say, this show is such a dream.
The other day, I was at an event in Los Angeles, and I met somebody who works in film and television in Vancouver on the production side. She asked what show I was a part of now, and I said The Good Doctor. And she goes, “Oh my God, everybody wants to be on that show!” It’s like this known thing that The Good Doctor is just a great environment. Everybody’s happy. It’s not a toxic environment. They make an effort to try and get the cast together to go to hockey games or go to football games or go out to dinner together, which creates positivity. I don’t get to have a lot of scenes with other actors on the show. Most of my work has been with Freddie, and so it’s just a way to create a sense of family. We’re all working on this together, and we all want the show to be good and be successful, so they welcomed me with open arms
The whole point of that story was that I was an outsider, but they were nice to me from day one, and I just feel so excited to be excited to go to work. I’ve been on the other side of it so often where it just wasn’t great, and warm environment. We’ve all had jobs that were like that, and I know people don’t ever think that film is like that, but it is like that often. So, it’s cool. Everybody’s in it together. It feels like a collaborative process with them.
DC: That’s so wonderful to hear! You mentioned most of your scenes, so far, have been with Freddie. What’s it like working with Freddie Highmore?
JN: I’ve never met an actor like him before. He’s not driven by ego. He doesn’t need to be the most interesting person in the room, even if he is the most interesting person in the room. I hate to say he’s a regular guy because I feel like there’s some negative connotation to that, but to me, there isn’t, because actors are a lot. When you have somebody who’s really talented and good at their job, but they don’t bring all the other stuff into it; They just show up, they do their work, they’re professional, they’re nice to be around and you feel like you can talk with them, it really changes the whole environment. I think that’s one of the reasons this production is so fantastic. You want your number one to be likable and fun to work with. Freddie is all of those things and he’s pretty quiet. In the beginning, I was a little anxious around him. I didn’t want to impede on his process or anything like that. But then I’d tell a fart joke in the corner of the room and he’d laugh at it, so he’s still present and interested. He asks questions. He’s not the kind of person who wants everybody to ask him questions so he can always be the one talking. He’s always interested in what other people are doing. He’s just somebody that I would be friends with in regular life and that translates into our work relationship too, which is really cool.
DC: I love it! He seems like such a great person. So, we’ve already seen Carly and Shaun developing the beginnings of what could potentially be a romantic relationship. I love that Carly has been so straightforward with Shaun about her feelings and uncertainties and that she’s also shown concern over what he’s feeling and what’s going through his head. That’s so important, especially given the fact that Shaun is a character with autism. She’s very sensitive to that, and I love it. Without entering a spoiler-ish territory, what can you tease about what lies ahead for Carly and Shaun in this season?
JN: Well, I would say that they’re both being challenged in very different ways in this relationship because Shaun hasn’t ever had a romantic relationship, or at least not one that was fully reciprocated by the other person. This is all new territory for him, and it’s new territory for Carly as well. She’s certainly dated other people, but she’s never been in a romantic relationship with someone like him. They’re both on a pretty steep learning curve, and I don’t think that there would be any hope for them if Carly wasn’t the kind of person who was super communicative. She’s really emotionally intelligent, and then you find out in episode two that she has a sister who’s autistic. It makes sense that she has a little bit of comfort, or she shares some sort of a language with Shaun just in terms of wanting to give him the space to process things that are new or uncomfortable.
At the same time, she wants to date this guy, so while she’s thinking, “ok, this is what I love about dating,” she then has to wipe that all the way clean and go, “ok, that’s what I used to love about dating. This is what I have to love about dating this person specifically.” I just think she’s really sensitive towards him, but she also doesn’t hold back in sharing what she’s going through and what her needs are too. Honestly, any relationship is about compromise. This no different. It’s just that they have to compromise on things that they haven’t necessarily had to before. It’s universal. It’s the same thing. It’s been really exciting to see it unfold because I have not seen that in a lot of media, in film and television, about a neuro-typical person and a neuro-divergent person having a relationship. It feels like a big deal to be going down this road.
I love that the writers are taking it so slow. I love it so much because on television everything happens really quickly, and you often have to fill in the blanks. So, people go out on a date, and then they kiss, and then they’re together, and you assume everything in the middle happened. This relationship isn’t like that. You get to see each of the steps. They sometimes take steps forward, and then they take some steps back. They take steps forward; they have to pause for a while. It’s just a really slow process for them, but it makes sense. That is the only way to keep Shaun feeling comfortable. He feels like he has some sense of control in what’s happening, and he has time to process everything and understand it to make it make sense for him. Carly is very, very patient, and that’s all I’m going to say for now. I think that the audience will appreciate how patient she is because this is just not the timeline that she’s used to for dating. It’s just going on a different pace than what she is used to, which doesn’t make it right or wrong at all. It’s just different. They have to get used to different things.
DC: Right, that can be tough, but sometimes it’s necessary. I can’t wait to see their relationship continue to develop. Now, viewers fell in love with the show immediately right from the first season, and if anything, that fan base and emotional response to the characters and the storyline has only grown over the past two seasons and now into the third season. What do you think about when you see the reception that the show has, and you see how much love and passion that the fans have for The Good Doctor?
JN: I think it’s wonderful! I’m so thrilled to be on a show that people watch and enjoy. It adds a new note for me because something that a lot of people don’t understand who don’t work in television and film is that, if we’re lucky, the actor gets to be an audience in addition to being a part of the production. We certainly don’t watch the show on Monday nights and go, “Wow, I can’t believe that happened. That was so exciting.” But we do that when we get the script. When I open up my email, and there’s a new script in there, it’s kind of like watching the show. Obviously, we’re reading it, but it’s because I am excited to see what happens next too. So, I get to be an audience member, and what can be a little bit tricky for me with such a big viewership that’s really into the show and the characters, is that people tend to use the actor as the face of what’s happening. We are the face, we play a role, but we don’t write it.
Sometimes, when people get frustrated about things, or they don’t like that a character said or did something, it comes on to us, the actors because we’re the closest that they can get to vocalizing their concern. That part breaks my heart because nobody wants anybody to be mad at them. Nobody wants to have negative feelings coming at them when they don’t have anything to do with what’s happening. They’re just portraying the character. So,I get a little anxious about that because I know that the fans love Leah and Shaun together. They want to see them together, and I understand why. Leah’s character; She’s just so great. She’s realistic. I love the character. I think it’s such a real and nice breath of fresh air to see somebody who doesn’t have their shit together on television. That’s cool! At the same time, of course, I want Carly and Shaun to work out because I feel what Carly feels, and I want what she wants.
So, that’s all to say there’s a lot of weird boundaries that get crossed with being an actor and caring about the show but also not wanting to take things personally. I just haven’t had a lot of experience with that before because I don’t always play characters that have storylines that are so solid and integral to what’s happening with the general narration of the show. I’ve usually been able to be in the back, but this feels very close to my heart. I want to protect Carly because I love her so much, and I want to protect Shaun too.
DC: Fandoms can be tricky with that, but I think The Good Doctor fans understand and are just happy to see Shaun taking a step forward. So, I have a couple of questions that were submitted by fans of yours. The first one is about your work on Fringe. Kyle wanted to know what it was like working with John Noble, and if it was as fun as it looked like on-screen?
JN: Kyle, I would like for you to ask John Noble what it was like working with me. Okay? (laughs) I’m kidding. John was a dream. I love him so much. We immediately hit it off because he has this kind of like paternal energy about him, where he just wants to take care of people and make sure they’re okay. He also wants to tell dirty jokes at the same time, which is for me, like a pretty great combination. We were just silly and had so much fun on set. He showed up to work with a beautiful attitude every single day, and I cannot stress enough how rare that is. Everybody has bad days, but he was somehow able to show up to the studio and leave whatever was going on with him outside of the studio. He just showed up and did good work and created a nice, warm environment
Unfortunately, not everybody was able to succumb to the wonderful energy. It was tough at times, but John and a couple of other people on that show were like a shining light for me. I always just went to him if anything was going on. I would just go hang out with him, and he would make it better. I miss him. I miss that we don’t get to work with each other anymore, but I love him very much and everything that audiences saw in the episodes that we filmed where he’s goofy and ridiculous, that is 100% how he is in real life, which I’m sure people would be very happy to know.
DC: Aww, that’s great! I had several fans ask about your sewing pictures and videos that you post on your social media pages. Your work is beautiful, and they wanted to know how you got into making your own clothes, and have you worn anything that you’ve made either on The Good Doctor or on any of the other projects that you’ve worked on?
JN: Oh, awesome! I got into sewing clothes because, when I was an art minor in college, I had to take a design class, and I didn’t want to do lights or sound. I thought the costume design class sounded cool. So, I showed up to the costume design class, and I hated the design aspect of it. It just wasn’t for me, but the construction part of it, I was like, “holy cow, this is so cool.” It’s like being an architect for a body; for a physical form.
After that, I got my own sewing machine, and I sewed on and off for about ten years. Once I moved out to LA from Vancouver and had enough space to have projects and tables to work on them with, I decided I wanted to make my wardrobe. I didn’t want to buy ready to wear anymore. I wanted to have a more sustainable relationship with the clothes that I wear because I love fashion. I’ve been making all of my clothes for about; I would say four years now, solidly. Oh, and I make shoes as well. I learned how to make shoes a few years ago.
So, that’s been a really big part of my life because, as an actor, you have a lot of time between jobs sometimes. Denise, a lot of time. (laughs) And I just like using my hands. I like to be busy with stuff, and that seemed like a cool thing to do, and that’s how I got into sewing.
As far as wearing my clothes, in big, large-scale productions for networks, they have a wardrobe supervisor. They provide all of the clothing. You can certainly have input for things, but you don’t wear your own clothes for those kinds of productions. A lot of it has to do with regulations and stuff like that. If you’re wearing something that they like, however, they might purchase it or get it made, but they need to have it for themselves. For indie projects, though, it’s a little different. I produced and starred in an indie film with my friends four years ago called Suicide Kale. It was a real bare-bones production. For things like that, you bring your wardrobe because we didn’t have enough money to hire wardrobe supervisors. Everybody provided their own clothes. So, for pretty much any kind of indie project or short film, I usually am wearing something that I made for that unless it’s very specific, like a police uniform or something like that. Otherwise, I pretty much always wear my clothes for independent, small projects that have no money.
DC: Wonderful. So, my outlet is called Fan Fest News, and we pride ourselves on being a bright little spot on the internet that celebrates all the things that people love today in pop culture, whether it’s music, film, television, books, etc. What are some things that you’re a fan of in today’s pop culture? What do you fangirl over?
JN: Oh my God, what do I fangirl over? I feel like such a grandma. I fangirl over yarn and knitting and fabric.
DC: Hey, me too!
JN: Okay. See, you get me then. We’re our own pop culture based in the world. (laughs) So, here are some things that I’ve been really into; The Great British Bake Off. Huge fan of that show. It’s tricky because my wife has celiac disease and can’t have gluten, so she just watches the TV drools. Then, I try and make her stuff, but it does not taste as good as what they’re making. But I try!
Let’s see, what else do I like? I don’t know if this is considered pop culture, but I just watched the show Unbelievable on Netflix, and it blew my mind. It was so good! I had never seen a police procedural that was done so beautifully and so well. I think it’s because there were so many women involved with the writing and the production of it. I just thought it was a really beautiful, incredible piece of work, even though it was hard to watch at times.
Music-wise, I like a band called Brockhampton. They’re like a rapping boy band. I’ve never quite heard anything like them, but they’re incredible. My wife got me into them, and then I think that might be it, girl.
DC: Ok. Last question for you. Is there anything else that you want to say to the fans of The Good Doctor, or do you have any other projects coming up that you’d like to share with our readers?
JN: Well, to the fans of The Good Doctor: Thank you all for watching! Thank you all for welcoming me with open arms! I’m so happy to be here. As for other projects, I do have a documentary that I was a part of coming out on October 15th on all streaming services. It’s called Somewhere in the Middle, and it’s about artists in all different kinds of fields and how they make their living. It follows people who are just like your regular average Joes who are, in some ways, dealing with art. There’s a painter; there’s a sculptor, there’s me, the actor. That comes out on October 15th, and it’ll be on all the streaming platforms. It’s really fun and, I hope, an inspiring documentary for people to watch.
Thank you, again, Jasika, for the fantastic interview! You can catch Jasika Nicole starring as Carly Lever on ABC’s The Good Doctor airing Monday nights at 10 pm. Be sure to follow her on social media (Twitter: @TheJasikaNicole; Instagram: @jasikaistrycurious) and also check out her new documentary Somewhere in the Middle on all streaming platforms October 15th.
In addition to Jasika Nicole and Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor also stars Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dr. Neil Melendez, Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews, Richard Schiff as Dr. Aaron Glassman, 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 from Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios. David Shore is the executive producer and showrunner. Daniel Dae Kim, Erin Gunn, David Kim, and Sebastian Lee are also executive producers.