Bernadette Beck channels personal experience for captivating performance in ‘The Good Doctor’

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For Bernadette Beck, the true art of acting comes in its subtlety. Whenever a camera is on her, she is emotionally charged and in-depth, calling for exactly what a scene needs. Many actors fall into the trap of laying all their cards out on the table at once, yelling and crying in a painful moment, but that is not how many behave in real life. Most people do the best they can to keep it together, and hiding that pain is a difficult but powerful thing to portray. 

“Most people are struggling to keep it together and only unravel when they feel it’s safe, but that doesn’t mean the observer doesn’t sense something is wrong or see pain in their eyes, regardless of the smile they wear. That’s the real stuff and those stories need to be told,” she said.

It is this distinct style of acting that allows Beck to truly become someone new, captivating millions and rising to the top of her industry in Canada. Millions around the world have seen her work in films like Girl in Progress alongside Eva Mendes, and most recently in the CW’s massive hit Riverdale, where Beck plays the character of Peaches ‘N Cream, a bubblegum chewing, bruiser girl, who emanates both power and sass, that attends Riverdale high school. Peaches is not afraid to get her knuckles scuffed, yet she keeps it glamorous with manicured nails and her iconic dark lip. Beck calls the experience the highlight of her esteemed career.

Shortly before her run on Riverdale, Beck also made an appearance in the critically acclaimed television series, The Good Doctor during its second season. The new ABC network show has already won numerous awards, since its air date of March 26, 2018. The show has been awarded multiple awards, such as the 2018 Banff Rockie Awards, and a 2019 Monte-Carlo Television Award, for Best International Drama TV Series. In addition, it has been nominated for a 2019 Leo Award, for Best Dramatic Series. Beck is thrilled to have been a part of such a successful program.

The Good Doctor is based on a young surgeon named Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), who has autism and Savant syndrome. The young man is recruited into the surgical unit at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, where he treats Beck’s character who has come into the ER with a beetle stuck inside her ear. The delicate extraction takes place in the midst of the usual chaos often found in the ER. To make matters worse, the beetle has begun laying eggs inside Beck’s character’s skull. The clock is ticking. Just before extraction though, an older gentleman enters the ER with a heart attack, causing Shaun to leave her prematurely. This adds a level of angst to the scene, where the viewer is pained to see her character harboring beetle eggs inside her skull, but doesn’t want to see the older man die. Dr. Murphy pulls through, saving his patients.

“The major message that’s being communicated throughout the show is that a syndrome doesn’t have to define you, and against all odds he proves that you can do incredible things – saving lives! That’s a beautiful message and a reminder that we all need to see. That can be extremely empowering for someone with a disability and/or illness as well. I believe marginalized people should have the chance to see themselves and/or similar traits to themselves on screen. It’s such an amazing feeling for all of us to see our journey played out on screen. It’s empowering and it’s crucial. I greatly admire how The Good Doctor continues to prove all the sceptics wrong in the show, while Dr. Murphy continues to save lives as the viewers at home cheer him on,” said Beck.

Beck credits Director Michael Patrick Jann for helping guide her through the emotional developments of her scenes. To channel the energy needed to portray a character in such distress, she focused on a personal experience she had when she had to go to the ER herself after being hit by a car when she was only 9 years old. The level of pain may be different in comparison to having a beetle stuck in her ear, but the fear and anxiety is still the same. Using this experience, Beck was able to tap into those crucial emotional elements in order to make the performance authentic. 

“It was such an incredible experience working on a major television show! So many of the cast and crew come from various backgrounds and are extensively experienced. Everyone brings so much value to the show and it’s inspiring to witness them in action. It’s really no wonder why the show has garnered so many high reviews and accolades,” she concluded.

Watch The Good Doctor on ABC every Monday at 10 p.m. Check out Beck in the upcoming Freeform and Hulu series Motherland: Fort Salem, which premieres on March 18th, 2020.

Photo by Liz Roza

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