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San Antonio native lands prime-time role San Antonio actor Nicholas Gonzalez nabs biggest TV role yet San Antonio actor Nicholas Gonzalez nabs biggest TV role yet

Waco Tribune-Herald - 8/19/2017

The gloves come off right away, as San Antonio native Nicholas Gonzalez embraces his biggest role yet - as a "rock star" surgeon in ABC's fall medical drama.

In "The Good Doctor," Gonzalez plays Dr. Neil Melendez, who both admires and butts heads with a brilliant young doctor with autism and savant syndrome.

In fact, Gonzalez's character shares one of the best scenes in the pilot with Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) when they verbally spar in the operating room.

After Murphy relocates from a quiet country life to join the California hospital's surgical unit, Melendez makes his feelings about him clear.

"You don't belong here," he says.

"You're very arrogant," Murphy replies in his trademark blunt manner. "Do you think that helps you be a good surgeon? Does it help you as a person? Is it worth it?"

"The Good Doctor," from "House" creator David Shore, debuts at 9 p.m.Sept. 25.

"They say it takes 20 years to become a professional," Gonzalez said in a one-on-one interview in the Beverly Hilton Hotel following a group Q&A with TV critics.

"When I read this script, had this opportunity, I felt this is the culmination of everything I've been doing. The hard knocks along the way, the lessons I've had to learn about myself as a person, a husband and a father."

Although Gonzalez is no stranger to recurring and guest parts in both dramas and comedies - including the final season of "Pretty Little Liars" and the upcoming season of drug-trafficking Netflix drama "Narcos" - his co-starring role here is something special, he said.

"I come home from work and talk to my wife about how happy I feel. I'm beyond content," he said.

One reason, he said, is having the chance to work with Highmore, who just came off a chilling TV turn as young serial killer Norman Bates in "Bates Motel."

Highmore strikes just the right tone as Murphy, who may possess genius-level skills but has no filter in his dealings with people.

His most passionate supporter is hospital president Dr. Aaron Glassman (Emmy winner Richard Schiff, "The West Wing"), who has been a kind of surrogate dad to the lonely and bullied Shaun from childhood on.

Murphy also has some formidable adversaries. Hill Harper's chief surgeon is against Murphy joining the staff. Expressing sizable doubts, too, is Melendez, who oversees the surgical residents.

"Dr. Melendez deals in the predictable, striving to keep things within the smallest sliver of margin of error. He sees Shaun Murphy as a walking unpredictability," Gonzalez said.

His character wavers between respect for the diagnostic skills of Murphy - which viewers witness early on when he helps a severely injured boy in an airport - and concern that he'll be a danger in the OR.

Their conflicts make for juicy drama. Highmore, too, said he looks forward to the fireworks escalating.

A help in this particular role, Gonzalez said, is being from a family of doctors, which gives him a jump on the other actors when spouting the series' complicated medical dialogue.

His dad is Dr. John Gonzalez, a retired dermatologist, who enjoyed a long, successful practice in San Antonio, and his brother, Dr. John Gonzalez, Jr., specializes in bariatric surgery in the Alamo City.

 
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