Canadian teenager Graham Verchere can be seen on UK TV screens in the new Sky Living series The Good Doctor as young Shaun Murphy. Already having many roles in acting and voiceovers, Graham has recently attended the 2018 Sundance Film Festival with the premiere of his latest film, Summer of ’84. We talked to him about his acting career, award nominations and the preparation for the role of young Shaun Murphy in The Good Doctor.
For those that haven’t seen The Good Doctor, can you tell us about the TV series?
The Good Doctor is a medical drama about an autistic savant surgeon, and him trying to fit into his job and be successful both socially and professionally.
What research did you have to do to play the young Shaun Murphy?
In the initial auditions, my mom (a pediatric plastic surgeon who works with many autistic kids) helped me with acting realistically like someone with autism. Then, on set, the show brought on an expert who helped both Freddie (Highmore) and me.
How difficult is it portraying a character with autism?
It’s definitely a challenge. There were some times where I was supposed to show an emotion Shaun is feeling while remaining expressionless or things like that. It made it diﬃcult, but it was really interesting to do at the same time.
Did Freddie Highmore give you any advice on playing the role?
Interestingly enough, Freddie and I never actually got the chance to talk or even really meet before we started filming. The only coordination we had was the expert on autism the show hired so it was really cool to see the show come together and notice all of the choices we both made on our own that ended up being the same.
We understand your mother filmed as a scrub nurse, what was it like having her on set filming?
I never got to see her do that part of the job sadly, but it’s a pretty funny story!
Was there a wrap party and were you able to attend?
The Good Doctor isn’t really wrapped, so no party yet!
Is there anything you can tell us about the film Summer of ’84 and your character Davey Armstrong?
Davey is a normal kid except for his aﬃnity for any type of conspiracy theory, so when he finds out about news of a local serial killer, he gets the idea that it might be the policeman next door and convinces his friends to jump on the chance to catch him. So the movie follows that adventure and how it all goes down for us.
How did you get the part?
I just auditioned normally, and they liked what I did I guess!
What’s it like on the set of a horror film?
It’s not as scary as the camera makes it seem, especially when you can look up and see there’s no ceiling, and when you can see that everything’s fake. What was really cool was that all of the eﬀects you see in that movie were all filmed live, with little to no special eﬀects involved.
What has the experience been like at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival?
It was cold! The publicity and interviews were pretty nerve-racking at first, but it settled, and it started to become fun after a while. I also didn’t know just how tightly packed the festival was – most of it takes place just down one street! It was so awesome that our film got to be a part of it.
How much fun did you have filming 2017’s Woody Woodpecker?
Woody Woodpecker was a lot of fun! It was the first time I had done anything with CGI so it was an interesting challenge to act with something that wasn’t really there.
What was it like filming Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow?
Turkey Hollow was so much fun to film. I had never really worked with any type of puppet before then (or since), and it was definitely pretty special. None of the monsters (except for the one scene in the end with the Hoodoo) really used CGI, so the puppets almost seemed like they genuinely came alive on set.
You have been nominated for and won a couple of awards, how was it accepting them and did you attend the ceremonies?
I don’t think I’ve missed an awards show where I was nominated yet! It’s still kind of crazy to see people enjoying the work I do, and it’s a really cool feeling for that to be recognised.
How different is it recording voice roles to actually acting as the character?
In voice acting, you have to be a lot more expressive with less, since you can’t show any of your facial expressions you have to get all of the character across with just your voice. That can make it more diﬃcult, but also there are fewer things to think of (like blocking), so some parts can be easier.
Are there any funny stories from any of the sets you’ve been on that you can tell us?
Not necessarily funny, but they actually had a real bunny to bring on set for The Good Doctor, and we got to name her! I don’t know where she is now, but her name is Caramel.
What was your first acting role?
My first acting role ever was a commercial for Ragu where I had a bee sting prosthetic. The first real role where I actually played a character was on an episode of Psych.
Were there any actors who inspired you to get into acting?
When I first started, it was more of a fun thing to do instead of something that was super inspired. Nowadays I am a big fan of Neil Patrick Harris. He does it all from theatre and singing to television where he plays both serious and comedic roles.
Have you done stage shows previously, and if so, would you like to do more?
I actually do a lot of theatre as well as film. Some of the best experiences I have had have been in stage shows, and I’d always love to do more!
What would your dream role be?
I never know how to answer this question in a film and TV context, but probably a superhero movie or something along those lines would be really amazing and fun to do.
Do you have any castings already booked for this year?
I am sort of in-between some projects at the moment so I’m not currently filming anything that is coming up just yet!
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