The Good Doctor said goodbye to one of its stars — and it was bittersweet.
On Monday’s sophomore premiere, written by star Freddie Highmore, San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital bid farewell to Dr. Jared Kalu (Chuku Modu), a surgical resident with ties to money. His final medical case involved a reluctant team-up with Shaun Murphy (Highmore), as they proposed treatment for a homeless patient that put both their respective standings with the newly promoted president of the hospital, Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper), on thin ice. But what once began as an adversarial dynamic turned into a surprising partnership by the end of the hour, with Jared defending Shaun’s out-there brain tumor diagnosis.
There was a question of how Jared would leave the hospital. In the freshman finale, he was offered an enticing job opportunity in Denver, Colorado, but by going behind Andrews’ back in treating this particular case, the threat that he could lose the offer was very real. Thankfully, it appears Jared didn’t lose his Denver job — and his goodbye scene with ex-lover Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) was emotional. “It’s hard saying goodbye. It doesn’t mean it’s a mistake,” Jared tells Claire after she pleads with him to stay. “You’ll be OK… I’ll be OK. I think one day, we’ll both be very happy.”
To break down Jared’s emotional exit and what’s next, ET spoke with Good Doctor star Hill Harper to get the scoop on the show’s latest cast changes, Dr. Glassman’s dire brain cancer diagnosis and much more.
We: There have been significant cast departures and promotions, with Chuku Modu and Beau Garrett leaving, and Paige Spara, Fiona Gubelmann, Will Yun Lee and Christina Chang becoming part of the main ensemble. How have the cast changes shifted the dynamic on the show?
Hill Harper: When you do a TV show, particularly when you’re shooting it away from home, you definitely create a family vibe because you have each other to spend time with. We all are professionals and understand that storytelling requires things to happen dramatically and characters to change and shift. It’s sad when you don’t get to someone as much but it’s part of the work. At the same time, Chuku is now back in Vancouver shooting a different show. If we want to see him, we can. That’s just the nature of the business. Just like in life, people come and go out of jobs and there could be competition, agendas and if things stayed the same in the microcosm of the hospital, it wouldn’t be dramatically interesting. The writers are attempting to tell the best stories that they can.
Jared plays a big role in the premiere and your character, Andrews, has a hand in how he ultimately leaves the hospital. What did you take away from playing that through?
Real kudos to Freddie and David Shore. Freddie did a wonderful job writing the first episode coming back for season two, we wanted to keep that momentum going. Closing out a really important character is really important. You don’t want a character to just disappear. The audience wants to see how it happened. What I love about the story is that he has an opportunity to stay, but chooses to leave on his own volition. He proves that he’s a good doctor and he proves that he’s worthy of being there, and certainly, my character has a lot to do with his exiting because being in a leadership position, you have to make the decision about who stays and who goes. He proves my character wrong, so to speak, which I think is a very powerful moment but then still maintains his agency and choice and power and decides to leave. I just think it’s handled extremely well and it’s really well-written.
How much pressure does Andrews feel with his promotion from being the hospital’s chief of surgery to president?
He feels a great a deal of pressure and it goes back to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. It’s a huge shift for him. He built his whole career to be a great surgeon and now he’s not even doing surgery anymore. it’s a huge change for him, but he set all these goals about how he wants to build a new wing and have it be called The Surgical Center of Excellence and all of these things he wants to manifest, he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself. Over the course of the season, you’re going to see how that pressure impacts his family life and his relationships with work.
Glassman is currently dealing with his health crisis, but does Andrews seek help or guidance from him about how to handle the hospital presidency?
He hasn’t done it yet but he may.
The opening of the episode sets the tone for how Andrews may approach his presidency, setting expectations for Shaun (be a better communicator), Morgan (be a team player) and Claire (be more assertive). Is that just a preview of how he’ll be as president?
He wants to establish himself as a good leader, specifically to different people. Some people he has to encourage, some he has to treat with kid gloves to try and get the best out of them. I love that because he doesn’t treat everybody exactly the same, but he wants to get the best out of everybody. We’ll have to see if he can achieve it. We’ll see if they actually follow his advice. There’s a large storyline that takes place over a long arc; one of those characters following his advice and what happens because of it.
Will you be interacting with Lisa Edelstein, who plays Glassman’s oncologist, Dr. Blaize?
I don’t think I’ll interact with her. Maybe I will, but I haven’t yet.
Should we be worried about Glassman surviving the season?
Whenever someone has brain cancer, you should definitely always be worried. That’s my opinion!
How would you describe season two of The Good Doctor?
Super smart and very intense. All the characters are starting to show their true stripes and when you start to show those things, people stop being polite or as polite and they start acting how they want to act or how they truly are, and that reveals a lot about all the characters.
Is Andrews’ handling of Jared a preview of how he handles being in a power position?
What’s interesting is there’s a scene that the audience won’t see. Maybe it’ll be in the DVD extras someday, but because the first episode ran a little long, the scene is not there. There was a scene in the end, where Andrews goes to Jared and basically apologizes and says he can have his job back if he wants it. You don’t know what Jared is going to say. And then you see the scene with Claire, where Claire says, “Maybe we can work this out.” That scene isn’t there anymore, so I think audiences would like me a lot more if that scene was still in there but it’s OK if they don’t like me, I can handle it!