We don’t think that it comes as a surprise to anyone that we think Richard Schiff is an extraordinary actor. Maybe you watched The West Wing, The Affair, Counterpart, House of Lies, or many other shows that he’s helped to bring to the next level, and his work on The Good Doctor is is no exception.
Going into The Good Doctor it was easy to tell that this show was going to be yet another reminder of Schiff’s greatness. It was a chance for him to share screen time with Freddie Highmore, one of the most brilliant young actors of our time, and play a man in Dr. Aaron Glassman who is both a mentor and a friend at the same time. He was also (through much of the show’s second season) broken and whittled down to almost nothing amidst a cancer battle – very difficult and dark material.
Watching Dr. Glassman suffer was not easy. This is a brilliant, accomplished man who at one point contemplated giving up. He was tormented throughout this season, whether it be with visions of his past, fears that he’d never be the same again, and concerns over his personal loneliness and the life he was leaving behind. For Schiff as an actor, the challenge was obvious — maintaining the character of season 1 while channeling the pain and the hardship that was there now. It was allowing Glassman to receive a degree of love rather than shunning it — even if that love was not always well-presented.
What made Schiff and Highmore’s scenes so fantastic through season 2 is that from the get-go, it was clear that these were two men who were very much struggling to figure all of this out. They don’t fundamentally know what they’re doing or how to form a lasting friendship. They also each (at times) had way more important priorities than just spending time together. Yet, through their interactions, they both got something more out of it. Shaun realized that there is someone he can speak to who will understand him on some level. Meanwhile, Glassman learned that Shaun will be an unflinching friend, someone who will be fiercely loyal and protective of him — but also be incredibly truthful, even when it hurts.
What Schiff did throughout the second season was remarkable, starting off with different shades of being broken down before allowing himself to be pieced together again by the finale. Glassman learned through all of this a great deal about mortality and living in the now — even though he was well-versed in the world of death as a doctor, there was something different about experiencing that walk towards the grim reaper himself. It allowed him new perspective, and it allowed him to chase and feel a greater sense of joy in the lighter moments of life. Even in sillier scenes with Shaun and (at times) Lea, you saw more of a smile. You saw more of a letting go. You saw Glassman almost in his clearest, purest form.
Then, there was the proposal scene at the end of the season 2 finale, a moment that was unabashedly romantic, but also one that could’ve been startling to anyone. Not everyone can share his outlook on life (few others have been through what he has), but there was also such an appeal with his passion, his commitment to living in the now. Schiff channeled these feelings and these desires with such fervor that, no matter who you are, it was easy to buy into every single word. Schiff was a magician through season 2, finding a way to bring us to the depths of despair with him and then pulling us back out of it again. Not many actors can maneuver something as difficult as this, but Schiff has time and time again shown us that he is that kind of actor.
Want some of our expectations for The Good Doctor season 3 in video form? Then check out the video we have for you at the bottom of this article, and subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more! We also have an official playlist to make your video hunt all the easier.
Will Schiff get an Emmy nomination?
Given the immense competition within the Supporting Actor world, he’s inevitably going to face a challenge — it’s hard to have confidence in any one actor from the network TV world. Beyond a doubt though, he is deserving for this performance and a character so injected with hurt, humor, and enough heart to bring a smile to almost anyone at the St. Bonaventure Hospital and beyond. We’ll learn his nomination fate come July, but we’ll cross our fingers every step of the way.
If you missed it…
Check out our Emmy Hopefuls piece all about Freddie Highmore over here. Meanwhile, share in the comments if you believe that Richard Schiff is deserving of an Emmy this year for The Good Doctor season 2. (Photo: ABC.)