Comic book fans will recognize Will Friedle from his uncanny voice, which has spoken the words of Batman in Batman Beyond, Star-Lord in the animated Guardians of the Galaxy and, of course, Kim Possible's wondrous sidekick, Ron Stoppable. Others might recognize him as their '90s crush when he played the goofy and charismatic Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World. In case you've forgotten or want a dose of nostalgia:
Just watching the opening credits brings back so many feels!
Thankfully in 2014, Disney decided to revive the Matthews' story in the all-new series Girl Meets World. The show introduces Corey (Ben Savage) and Topanga's (Danielle Fishel) teenage daughter (Rowan Blanchard) and reunites nearly all of its predecessor's original characters. Besides cameos from Shawn (Rider Strong) and Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), Will Friedle joins Savage and Fishel on the series, welcoming back everyone's favorite older brother.
We caught up with Will at MegaCon Tampa Bay to see what he’s been up to since his early years on the set of Boy Meets World and what it’s like to be back in the Matthews household 14 years later.
Movie Pilot: So you're probably most well-known known for Boy Meets World. I actually didn't start watching until like the early 2000s, I think.
WF: OK. So like the second run of it?
MP: Yeah. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, how have I not watched this before?”
WF: It’s the best show ever! We liked it. We had fun.
MP: It seemed like an awesome set to work on.
WF: It was. I mean, we all grew up together. So you know, people kind of throw around the, "Oh, we were family.” But we really were. When I met Ben (Savage) he was 11 years old. He's like 36 now. So we've known each other forever. And, you know, Rider Strong is one of my closest friends. He was at my wedding. They were all invited, but Ben had to go somewhere else, and Danielle was out of the country. ... It’s hard to get everyone together. But Rider made the trip. But yeah, it was certainly an incredible set to grow up on.
MP: So, you just got married?
WF: I did. Five or six weeks ago tomorrow. We’ve known each other for 17 years and we've been together for five. We got married back in Connecticut, in a vineyard, which is where I'm from. It was a beautiful, perfect day. And all our friends were there, and it was really great. Now, unfortunately because we had it in Connecticut, it wasn’t all our friends. It was very small. We kept it to 55 people. But then we're going to do the big one, the big party, later. So we'll do that in L.A.
MP: When it comes to being on the set of Boy Meets World, did you improvise anything for Eric or was most of it scripted?
WF: Most of it was scripted, I would say, because the writers were fantastic. But there were times where we would do it. Like once or twice in front of the audience and then Michael Jacobs, or one of the writers, would kind of come up and go, "Okay, you can do what you want." And then maybe like a second or third take, I would get to play a little bit and I would improvise here or there. You know the Feeney call really started by it just saying "Mr. Feeny" in the script and I kind of took it from there to where it expanded to be nine minutes long.
They gave us a lot of freedom the set. We did it scripted, but they really let us play. Especially by the end because we knew our character so well that we kind of knew what was up.
MP: What do you think of the resurgence of Girl Meets World?
WF: It's amazing! It’s just the show that keeps going. People love Boy Meets World. I mean, the whole new generation is kind of discovering it and then Girl Meets World is causing the older generation to kind of rediscover it. So people are going back and realizing how much they loved it and watching it again.
And younger people are coming in. And Eric is now a senator and running for president, and it's all crazy. So yeah it's certainly fun. ... Eric is so much fun to play that you don't want to leave. Because it's like, you know, putting on an old pair of socks or a pair of shoes; it's just so comfortable and warm and he's a goofball. So how can you not enjoy being that goofy older brother?
MP: Is it kind of similar to how you are in real life?
WF: Oh, it is incredible yeah... I'm the youngest in my family, so I have older brothers. But yeah, I'm a total spaz and goof. I love it. It's just how I am. I like to crack jokes and pull pranks and that kind of thing. It's my favorite.
MP: I heard you have a YouTube series now?
WF: Well not yet. We're starting it. There's going to be some cool stuff happening with Eric Mathews in the future where people are going to get to see some new things, which they're going to like.
MP: When can we expect that?
WF: It's around the corner. We're not giving too much away because there's some fun stuff happening. But you're going to be able to really see what Eric has been up to. It's going to be on the Internet, but there's a good chance it's going to be other places, too. Little things here and there, but there's some fun stuff in the works.
MP: You do a lot of animated series too.
WF: You know, the animated series are so much fun. Playing Batman was incredible, Kim Possible was great.
MP: There’s been some talk about bringing other older Disney shows back, like Kim Possible. Would you be interested in doing that?
WF: I would certainly be interested, but it's one of those things. From the day those shows were canceled, we were hearing we were doing more. We've been hearing that for 20 years. 'Who knows?' is what I always answer because you can never tell. Maybe they'll do another Kim Possible or maybe they'll do more Batman Beyond. I really couldn't tell you, but I would love to do either one because we had so much fun.
MP: How do you feel when shows make a comeback? Are you ever unsure about it?
WF: You don't want to do anything to spoil the original. And that's one of the things that was so wonderful about Girl Meets World. Michael Jacobs's tone was the same and the kids were such incredible actors that they really do justice to the original one. So we were very happy to see what they did with it.
MP: So you've done Batman and a few other comic-related shows — have you ever wanted to be a part of the Marvel or DC universes and be in those movies?
WF: I'm part of the Marvel world with Star-Lord on Guardians of the Galaxy in the animated series. But you have to be in really good shape to be in those movies. You don't want to see me in spandex, I can promise you that. So yeah, I'm not sure I would be too good. Unless maybe it was the funny guy who was the friend of the superhero.
MP: See, you could have done Star-Lord!
WF: Yeah, see, I think Chris Pratt did a pretty damn good job playing that role.
MP: He really did.
WF: I mean, he knocked that out of the park. I think that was perfect casting for him.
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MP: What's your favorite movie?
WF: It is a tie between Willy Wonka the Chocolate Factory — the original, of course — and Ishtar. What's your favorite movie?
MP: I can never decide! Some movies I can watch on repeat, like Back to the Future.
WF: Okay, great movie. Actually, the reason I'm an actor is because of Michael J. Fox and Family Ties — when I was a kid, I saw that and I went, "I want that. That's what I want." And that was it. And then I did a show after — we only did six episodes — but I did a show after Boy Meets World called The Random Years. And we shot on the same set where they shot Family Ties. And I just remember thinking to myself, 'I made it. I’m here where Michael J. Fox was!' So that was the coolest thing in the world.
MP: So is he kind of like your idol?
WF: Oh, absolutely! Acting-wise. Absolutely. You go back and you watch his sitcom work in Spin City and Family Ties. He's a genius when it comes to sitcoms. Sitcom is a very difficult beast. It's very difficult to keep fresh and keep people entertained. And he's one of the best ever.
MP: Have you ever met him?
WF: Once. I did. I was with Ben and Rider and we were at Disney World years and years and years ago. And we met and we talked to him for a good 15 minutes and it was like one of the coolest things in my life.
MP: Had he seen any of your work?
WF: He knew Ben. Because he knew Fred (Savage). But I remember Ben going up to him and — I'll never forget this — and going, "Excuse me, Mr. Fox?" And he said, “Mr. Fox?! I've known your brother for 15 years; you call me 'Mr. Fox' again, I'm gonna smack ya." I'll never forget that. He was a great guy. I was doing my best to play it cool like, "It's just Michael J. Fox." But inside I was freaking out.
You can see Friedle in his iconic role as Eric Matthews, playing with squirrels and running for president, on Disney Channel for Girl Meets World's third season.