Will and I began to talk about his role on “Kim Possible,” and one does not talk about Kim Possible without talking about Christy Carlson Romano. Known for her portrayal of Ren in “Even Stevens,” Romano did several television movies like the classic “Cadet Kelly” and even authored a young adult novel.
But gentle as Will Friedle is, he can be a vulture, and when he sensed my Romano-weakness, he took his opportunity and struck.
TB: So Christy Carlson Romano is also going to be at Wizard World in New Orleans. Have you guys kept in touch?
WF: Ahh…man, she’s the worst.
WF: Oh god, yeah. She’s a horrible human being.
TB: (unable to speak; the sound of rushing blood pounds through my ears amidst alternating choruses of ‘Call Me Beep Me’ and ‘What’s the Matter with Ren?’)
WF: I’m kidding!
WF: I love how silent you got.
TB: My whole world was shattering.
WF: She’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life.
TB: Oh, thank god.
WF: It was funny to hear the dead silence, though. No joke, though, she’s one of the nicest people. We started “Kim Possible” in 2002, so I’ve known her 15 years. It’s another one where I got very lucky in the shows that I was privileged to be able to do. That kind of stuck around. It was another show that kept having life left in it.
TB: You’ve got to give yourself some credit, right? You keep saying you got lucky, but don’t you think there’s something you’re contributing that spins this magic?
WF: I mean, I hope so, but you have to keep in mind—I’ve told this story before, and this is true. When they first started casting “Boy Meets World,” I got a call from my manager saying, ‘They’re casting for a new show in Los Angeles called “The Ben Savage Project.” And they’d like you to come in and read.’ And the day that I was supposed to go to New York and read, I got sick and couldn’t go. So they ended up casting somebody else. And they shot the pilot with a different actor who played Eric Matthews. The kid was not a bad actor by any stretch of the imagination, but he was essentially the same height as Ben. And Ben was supposed to be 11 years old and the smaller brother. So they said, ‘We need to get somebody taller,’ and they ended up recasting and I got another shot. So people say that it’s not about luck, but if that kid were four inches taller, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. Luck does play a part. You like to think that once you’re in the door, you’re contributions help to keep you there, but I would be lying if I said that luck didn’t play a substantial role.
TB: You’ve stayed very grounded, clearly.
WF: You have to know my family. They’re very grounded people. I think I said one “cocky” comment when I came back from my first season. I think I was about 16 and thought I was so cool. And my brothers stuck my head in the toilet. We don’t play that in the Friedle family.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been so thankful for four inches of height, but who can say for sure that the original Eric actor would have been as entertaining folded up into a couch. Whatever it took for Will to get the role, I’m glad he did. After “Girl Meets World” came to a close, Will has even spoken about the possibility of an Eric Matthews spinoff. There are no solid details on the project, but we talked about the the direction he may take the show should he receive the green light.
TB: Is the Eric spinoff actually on the table?
WF: There’s a possibility. I’ll be honest—I go back and forth. I go back and forth between, ‘Ok, I’ve kinda got the feeling that maybe I do want to get back on camera, and if I do that, do I want it to be Eric Matthews or something completely new?’ And then there are times that I wake up in the morning and go, ‘It’s got to be Eric. We have to see what he’s doing as a senator in D.C. It’s one of the funniest ideas, I can’t even imagine what it’d be like, that’s amazing.’ Then the next day I’ll wake up and go, ‘Ehhh, I don’t think so. We’ve done Eric. We have to do something different.’ So there are a lot of possibilities in the air. There’s also the possibility of doing something very small with Eric, like a quick one-off kinda thing.
TB: I would definitely watch an Eric show. But also…you deal with anxiety. It’s something I deal with and many close friends deal with. Is that something you’d want to explore in a project?
WF: Absolutely. It’s funny you mention that. I’m actually working on a project right now that’s right along those lines. It’s one of those things that if you deal with it, one of the things that actually helps, almost more than anything, is talking about it. The second I stopped pretending it wasn’t happening and that I had to hide it from people, my life got so much better. It’s absolutely a route we’re talking about going, with whatever character I decide to play next on camera. Even if it is Eric Matthews, that’s certainly going to be a part of his life. Because it’s a part of mine. It’s something you deal with on a daily basis, even on great days it’s in the back of your head….It throws you into a tailspin. And I did that for years and at one point I looked at myself and went, ‘I can’t do this anymore. You’re gonna deal with this. You still have to live your life.’ And when I started thinking about it and talking about it more along those lines, everything changed for the better. I met my wife, work got better, I started wanting to be on camera. It makes a huge difference. So to answer your question, the anxiety aspect will definitely be a part of whatever I do.
Whether it was luck, pure talent or a divine combination of the two that brought Will Friedle into the cast of “Boy Meets World” and into the lives of three generations, it’s safe to say that he’s exactly the kind of person you want influencing your children. Who knows? Maybe in the next few years we’ll get both the Eric spin off and Will Friedle’s “Winnie the Pooh,” if Disney cares to answer our prayers.
Thus wielded with this knowledge and a copy of his schedule, head over to Wizard World this weekend to meet Will, along with Ryder Strong and Christy Carlson Romano, confirmed saint. You can find me in the front row, shrieking.