Even good doctors need good bosses. Thankfully, Christina Chang is on call.
Chang plays Dr. Audrey Lim on Canada’s most-watched drama THE GOOD DOCTOR, which currently is in the midst of its third season, airing Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV. Dr. Lim is the chief of surgery at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, where one of her surgical residents is lead character Dr. Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore.
During a visit to Bell Media Studios in Toronto, Chang provided an update on all the good vibes emanating from THE GOOD DOCTOR.
Q: There are quite a few doctors on your acting resume. Have you played enough doctors that you feel like one now?
CHRISTINA CHANG: “You would think so, but no. I would not rely on me to save anybody. I might suggest you take an Advil, but that’s about all I can do.”
Q: Actually, your acting resume is filled with doctors, lawyers and detectives – that’s the “Big 3” for TV!
CHRISTINA CHANG: “You’re right – thank you for summing that up for me! I think I’ve made a career playing a career woman.”
Q: You often play the smartest person in the room. That can’t be an accident.
CHRISTINA CHANG: “I don’t know – maybe because in life I am one of the dumbest people in the room? No, I’m kidding. It could just be that one person took a chance on me playing, you know, a smarty-pants, and then everybody else followed suit.”
Q: Because your character is in charge, is that more of an acting challenge, because she has to display her emotions more subtly than other characters?
CHRISTINA CHANG: “Sometimes I’m told to maybe dial it back a little bit, or don’t give away certain things, because I myself am quite animated in life. So I do have to be mindful of what’s called a neutral face.”
Q: If this character existed in real life, she would have a very hard job, for many reasons.
CHRISTINA CHANG: “First of all, you’re right when you say IF she existed. There are so few women in this role in life anyway. Only 19% of surgeons are women, and fewer – something like 1% – are chairs of their departments. So there’s a responsibility that I’m feeling. It’s definitely an honour to be in this position. And you’re right, it’s a tricky thing for this character, because these were her peers not so long ago. She went from being a peer – although somewhat of a boss to the residents, obviously – to being a way bigger boss. And these are life-and-death decisions she has to make. I can’t imagine in real life what anybody, male or female, goes through when it comes to making these decisions. We talk about that a lot on set when we get the scripts.”
Q: What do you think is setting THE GOOD DOCTOR apart from other medical shows?
CHRISTINA CHANG: “Let’s start with the unique premise. Obviously there are not a lot of shows on television that have a lead character with autism and savant syndrome. He simply states his thoughts, without judgment, and it’s endearing and refreshing to see. It causes the other characters to pause. I mean, yes, there are certain social norms and cues, where it’s like, ‘You can’t say that, Shaun.’ But his sentiment isn’t always wrong, you know? The other characters are left thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve just been sort of on autopilot in the way that I do things, and the way that I receive information, and give it. But huh … he’s not wrong.’ I guess what I’m trying to say is, we teach him, but he teaches us, too.”
Q: Agree or disagree – the best part about playing the boss on THE GOOD DOCTOR is that you don’t have to wear scrubs in EVERY scene.
CHRISTINA CHANG: “No! I’m going to be honest, I enjoy the scrubs! Wearing pajamas to work every day? Hello! Although I insisted that Lin wear sneakers, even when she’s in other outfits. So you’ll notice – not that you’re looking at my shoes, because if you are, I’m doing something wrong – but I’m almost always in sneakers.”
Q: So the takeaway from this is, you want more scrubs.
CHRISTINA CHANG: “More scrubs, and more panning down to my feet. More sneaker shots.”
BY BILL HARRIS FOR THE LEDE