Freddie Highmore on 'The Good Doctor's Series Finale and What's Next for Him (Exclusive)

Highmore has portrayed Dr. Shaun Murphy on the ABC medical drama for seven seasons.

After seven years of portraying Dr. Shaun Murphy, Freddie Highmore is hanging up his white coat as ABC's The Good Doctor comes to an end. 

Talking with ET's Deidre Behar during a visit to the set of the hit medical drama series -- which the network announced in January would be ending -- the 32-year-old British actor says that he has mixed feelings about closing the book on this chapter of his life. He describes the conclusion as bittersweet.

"The analogy I've been using is graduation. It feels nostalgic, this big moment that you look back at all the things you've accomplished and everything that we have done," the August Rush actor shares. "At the same time, there's an element of feeling excited about the future."

The show -- based on a Korean drama of the same name -- follows a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome (Highmore) and the medical team at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. The series also stars Richard Schiff, Hill Harper, Christina Chang, Paige Spara, Fiona Gubelmann, Will Yun Lee and Antonia Thomas. 

Highmore tells ET that as much as he and his cast and crew members want to, they can't stay in their "magical little bubble" with the series. 

Richard Schiff and Freddie Highmore in 'The Good Doctor' - ABC via Getty Images

Highmore says that while it may be a cliche for an actor to refer to their on-screen companions as "family," it is absolutely true in this case. He shares that the "camaraderie" shared by all of the individuals on set is one of the biggest facets of the job he will miss on a day-to-day basis. 

"The world has changed so much and we've gone through so much all together that it will certainly be hard to say goodbye to everyone," he says. "Knowing that you will most likely never be together in that same space in the same way."

As for the lessons he plans to take from the show and his character, Highmore says that, while cheesy, he is a different person from the first day of filming all the way back in 2017. 

"Shaun has probably made me a better person," Highmore tells ET. "I think he's been a wonderfully optimistic sort of hopeful character to get to inhabit and to be excited to play every day."

He added, "I think I will definitely miss that."

Daniel Dae Kim, Freddie Highmore and Antonia Thomas in 'The Good Doctor' - David Bukach via Getty Images

While he has stated that he is not personally on the spectrum, the actor told Variety in 2019 he felt a "moral responsibility" to play the character.

Throughout the nearly seven-year run of the show, viewers have seen Dr. Shaun Murphy save dozens of patients' lives, fall in love and start a family and help to train the next generation of surgeons -- including a fellow doctor with autism in more recent episodes. 

In early February, the show's producers announced that Kayla Cromer, an actress with autism spectrum disorder, would join the series as Charlene "Charlie" Lukaitis, a medical student who idolizes Highmore's character. 

"She is the first actor with autism who we've had playing a doctor on the show, and she's going to be there for several episodes," said executive producer Liz Friedman, adding that Cromer's character "got into medicine because of Shaun Murphy."

Freddie Highmore and Kayla Cromer in 'The Good Doctor' season 7 - ABC via Getty Images

So what's next? Highmore says that after jumping immediately from "killing people" on Bates Motel and then "saving people" on The Good Doctor, he is open to completely breaking out of that cycle -- or whatever "interesting" opportunities arise. 

"I don't really know," he says of his next project. "I think that's one of the things about this industry -- in this world, it's hard to say what will be next with any great degree of certainty."

He continued, "You just have to be open and excited for whatever that may be."

Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga pose together at an event for 'Bates Motel' - Getty Images

ET spoke with Highmore in February at a Television Critics Association panel and he shared that as the show prepared to come to a close, he and the show's creator, David Shore, are hoping fans are willing to view them with indulgence. 

"David and I often discussed this hope and desire that the show would be considered -- or at least it certainly was to us --as more than just a TV show and that it spoke to wider issues and themes," Highmore told ET ahead of the Feb. 20 premiere of the final season. 

"I hope, if in some small, tiny, little way, we've been able to change perceptions surrounding autism, challenge stereotypes," he continued. "That would be the thing that I'd be most proud of and that would make it feel, as we'd always hoped it would be, more than just a television show."

Paige Spara and Freddie Higmore in 'The Good Doctor' - ABC via Getty Images

A preview for the finale released by ABC on Tuesday morning shows Highmore's character convening his top-tier team of medical experts to solve one last medical mystery together and save their friend, Dr. Aaron Glassman, played by the Emmy Award-winning Schiff. 

"As the doctors consider their futures, they work together to solve one of the most important cases of their careers," an episode description reads. 

While Highmore kept the details of the finale episode of the series up his sleeve, he shared with ET that he believes fans of the show will find the last episode to be a "satisfying conclusion" to a story that unfolded over the better part of a decade.

The Good Doctor series finale airs Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. Episodes stream the next day on Hulu.