animation Boy Meets World

Catching up with Will Friedle

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 Sophie Magdalena

How many of you growing up had a crush on the dreamy older brother of Cory Matthews, Eric, on the 90's sitcom, Boy Meets World?  Our team here at Halfstack Magazine is comprised mostly of women and we've all had conversations at length with each other about this television show which was most prominent in our adolescent years.  When the opportunity presented itself to us to interview the dreamy, yet wacky and kooky, Eric Matthews - Will Friedle, - we fought relentlessly at who would get the chance to represent the magazine.  And it was by sheer luck that no one else on the Halfstack team had an open slot in their schedules, and I was the chosen one by default!  

Photo Credit:  Facebook 

In my time with Halfstack Magazine, I've conducted countless meetings and interviews with various clients, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs.  And never in my life have I ever been more nervous than I was the few minutes before our meeting began.  I laughed with my team afterwards because I'm certain poor Will thought to himself at least on one occasion that this woman who was supposed to be a professional was about to throw up all over herself.  My voice was shaky, as were my hands.....  and it took every ounce of effort to keep myself from swooning like the 14 year old inside of me that was trying to force it's way out.  

Those nerves quickly dissipated, however.  My brief time spent talking with Will was like talking with a good friend I'd known for years.  I've had the pleasure of meeting a few celebrities in my day, and I can say with certainty that no other celebrity was as kind, humble and easy to talk to as Will.  I made mention at the start of our meeting how honored I was to have the opportunity to interview him and to meet someone so famous and he laughed and asked who I was meeting with after him and asked if he could join in and meet someone really famous as well.    

I had so many questions for Will and had no idea where to start.  From wanting details about what it was like growing up with and being a part of one of the most notable shows of the 1990's, to his career in animation and everything in between....  I bring you what has been one of the most fun interviews of my own personal career.....  

HSM:  What was it like being a part of one of the most notable shows of the 90's?  

Will Friedle: Boy Meets World was a show that just kept on going, but we never really had any press while the show was on.  We weren't on the covers of magazines.  We weren't on the TV Guide until the very end.  We were the kind of show that had a very loyal following while we were on the air, but it wasn't until the show ended and it wen't into syndication on the Disney Channel, ABC Family and then MTV that the show kind of took off and had a whole new life.  It was then that people started to tell us the kind of impact we had on them.  So, we were completely unaware as we were filming the show just how important it was to people.  Our Executive Producer knew, Michael Jacobs is very good at this kind of stuff and he would tell us, "I hope you realize that this is an important show."  But we never really got it until it was all over and people would come up to us and say, "I used to watch you every Friday night."  It was then that we realized that it was much bigger than any of us ever thought it was.  And this was hugely flattering.  And frankly, I think not knowing we were important made the show what it was, because to us, we were just a bunch of kids having fun, filming our nice little television show.  I think it would have changed had we become aware of how big the show was while we were on the air.  I love it just the way it happened.  

HSM:  Is Eric Matthews anything like what Will is really like?  

Will Friedle:  Yeeaaa.... I think so.  I mean, say what you will about Eric.  The character started one way and very much ended another way.  But I like to think that the one thing that was the same with Eric from the beginning was that he had a huge heart.  He always loved everyone around him.  He always tried to help everyone around him. In the beginning he was the suave, older brother who could always get the dates; which was certainly not how he ended up.  But at the same time, he was still Eric throughout the entire length of the show.  I think they went bigger and broader because again, when you establish a character that has that much heart, and that people really like, you can get away with more.  I think that towards the end, they were really pushing the envelope with how crazy Eric could be.  But it was okay, especially with the balance of the show, because Cory and Topanga, and even Shawn to a certain extent, had more of a dramatic feel towards the end of the series, and they tried to balance that with the wackiness of Eric.  It was such a fun role to play.  I've always been a goofball, so I think it was a good combination of the writers and my personality that brought Eric out towards the end.  

HSM:  You were around 16/17 when you joined the cast? 

Will Friedle:  I was 16 and 2 or 3 weeks away from my 17th birthday. 

HSM:  What was it like transitioning from being a teenager on the show into adulthood throughout the life of the show?  How did you and the cast manage to keep it together in an industry that tends to swallow people whole, especially young stars?  

Will Friedle:  I think for all of us, and this really was the case because if you were on set and saw us, one word is what it really is all about and that is Family.  We all come from great families.  It kept us grounded.  It was just one of those things we all shared.  We still joke to this day that Boy Meets World would have made a terrible E! True Hollywood Story because we all got along.  We weren't into partying or other crazy things.  The only times we ever fought on set, and I use the term "fought" loosely because it was all in good fun, was about politics.  By season 3 I think, we'd instituted "bar rules" and decided not to talk politics on set anymore.  When you have a group of 5-6 young actors who's only argument is in fun about politics, you know you've got some grounded people.  

It's easy to say that the business "swallows people whole," especially young actors, but I don't think that's necessarily the case.  I think it comes down to it swallowing yourself whole.  It's giving in to the stuff that's out here.  The possibilities.  We didn't party, we didn't go to clubs, so I was never exposed to any of the craziness.  I had a select group of friends and we'd hang out on a Friday night but there were times when Ryder Strong and I would go out after work and hang out in a book store.  We talked about literature, headlines.  We were just apparently different because we'd heard a lot of horror stories later on that we just had nothing to do with.  

HSM:  I'm sure whenever you come across anyone from the press, media or even just fans on the street that you get bombarded with questions about Boy Meets World.  Do you ever get tired of reliving those days?  

Will Friedle:  I don't.  I really don't.  I know some people may, or may think that I'm not telling the truth.  But I honestly don't.  We also had at the time, and have, the greatest fans in the world.  We don't have any crazy fans.  We get the fans that say, "I watched you every single Friday night with my family."  It's always nice to hear people say these things.  I've had people say to me, "I didn't know if I was going to go to college, and when Eric couldn't get in, it was because of watching the show that I decided to go to college."  These things are REALLY cool to hear.  So no, I don't ever get tired of it.  I never have and I don't think anyone else ever has either.  When we get together, we talk about it and everyone is very respectful.  We all have great memories of the show and I hope that continues forever.  I really do.  I think it's great.  

HSM:  You've had some pretty notable roles in animation as well, Kim Possible, Thundercats, and your newest role as Bumble Bee in the new Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising movie.  Do you enjoy voice overs over on camera?  

Will Friedle:  You know, they are very different.  But personally I do.  I love doing voice over.  I started in 1996-97 with Batman Beyond which was my first series.  It's just a phenomenal world.  Actually, to be honest with you, it's a world within a world in Hollywood and it's something that I absolutely love and I hope I can do this for the rest of my life.  I really do.  

I loved doing on camera when I was younger, but now that I've gotten older, I just can't do it anymore.  So I stopped.  I stopped going to auditions, stopped being in films and television and I just immersed myself in the voice over world and I've never looked back. It is a really, really cool way to make a living.  I'm very lucky to be able to do it and hopefully I'll be able to do it as long as they'll have me frankly.  

HSM:  I'll be honest, I never actually watched Transformers as a kid. 

Will Friedle:  You're KIDDING?!?! 

HSM:  It was a BOY cartoon!  

Will Friedle:  Come on!  It's for everyone!  

HSM:  Haha...  In the Hollywood movies, Bumble Bee didn't have a voice.  

Will Friedle:  Well he doesn't in Beast Hunters either.  Bumble Bee hasn't spoken in a long time.  He spoke in the original series in the 80's and then he lost his voice and hasn't spoken in at least 10-12 years.  So to be able to put a voice to the character for the first time in over a decade, it's obviously an honor.  And not to be cliche, but I was 8 years old when the original Transformers aired so I tell people that "Transformers was made specifically for me.. the 8 year old boy."  To be involved in any way, is really great.  

HSM:  Do you have any other projects in the works?  

Will Friedle:  There is some really cool stuff coming up on the hub network.  I've been working with them a lot lately.  I can't talk about everything, but I can say that the fans of the Transformers world will be very happy with some stuff I've been working on that is coming up. 

Don't worry Halfstackers....  I didn't forget to ask the question that has been on all of our minds since the start.  I heard it long ago and couldn't let my chance slip away to ask if the rumored spin off to Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World, was really scheduled to hit television in late 2013 and if the rumors were true that he would be returning as Eric Matthews.  But I am saddened to tell you all that Will put those rumors to bed and said that as of today, there have been no talks of him returning to the show.  He did however state that if the spin off does bring back his character at some point, he'd be pleased and ready for pretty much anything.  

For now, we'll just have to get our fix of Will Friedle via the animation world and via his latest project as Bumble Bee in Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising.  Will spoke so highly of his work on the project stating, "To be able to be the voice of Bumble Bee and a part of, in my opinion, one of the best voice over ensemble casts in the last 15 years of animation, is incredible."  And I agree, now available on Blueray, the movie, if you like animation, is gorgeous.

It truly has been an incredible experience connecting with Will Friedle.  I am so pleased to share this experience and interview with all of our Halfstack & Boy Meets World fans!  Don't waste another moment and get your copy of his new movie today! 

Photo Credit:  The Hub

- Sophia Sanchez
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