Boy Meets World's Rider Strong And Will Friedle Talk Auditioning As Child Actors And Receiving Savage Rejections

Will Friedle and Rider Strong (Eric and Shawn) on Boy Meets World
(Image credit: ABC)

The Boy Meets World cast had been open about their experiences as young stars coming up in the '90s. They’ve even shared their mixed feelings about being called child actors. Now, the BMW alums have spilled about what it was like to audition in Hollywood during that time. Rider Strong and Will Friedle recently got candid about their childhood auditions -- and how they'd receive savage rejections.

Both actors discussed their child actor experiences in Hollywood while speaking with guest Marla Sokoloff on the Pod Meets World podcast. Sokoloff detailed what it was like to audition as a young actress during the '80s and '90s, recalling the harsh rejection she faced at auditions. The Full House alum remembered feeling awkward after being picked for a role and seeing other actors being sent home. Her comments led Rider Strong and Will Friedle to chime in on the audition processes they experienced growing up. Strong spilled that the New York theatre scene followed that same process:

They would do that in the theatre all the time. they would have these workshop-y sessions that were kind of like rehearsals where they were mixing and matching people.

Just like the TV industry, the theatre world is all about finding the right pairings or dynamics in order to bring said stage production to life. The Shawn Hunter actor recalled how harsh the Broadway audition process was as a New York transplant after starring in the ABC sitcom:

I remember when I lived in New York and constantly going to auditions and being told ‘You can go home now.’ And you’d call back the next day and they’d be like ‘We actually want to bring you back in.’ You’re like what is happening? I think a healthy attitude is that it’s just play, and it doesn’t really matter. But it’s so hard to get your heart broken.

Knowing a veteran like Rider Strong still gets hurt by exclusion speaks volumes about the auditioning process. While thinking of acting as “just play” is commendable, it still doesn’t lessen the pain and anxiety of constant rejection. One would assume that the chaotic nature of auditions in general didn’t help either.

Upon hearing his colleague's Broadway audition story, Will Friedle spoke about actors’ mindset when it comes to being dismissed in the entertainment world. He felt performers' fear of rejection is only natural given the machine-like nature of the industry they work in:

And actors are emotional people. Actors by nature are emotional people, empathetic, emotional people. And so, you put yourself into these things. If anyone’s like me, you already starting to imagine what it’s going to be like on set, and ‘Oh God, I can already see what this character is going to be like.’ And then, it's like ‘Hey, Bill, you can go.’ [Tesponding to the casting director] ‘It’s actually Will, but okay. Thank you.’ It happens all the time.

Having been an actor since childhood, the Eric Matthews actor knows just how hard it can be. He acknowledged the emotional toll it can take on child actors over time, especially when you fall in love with a role. But the “Will not Bill” part honestly just sounds straight-up demoralizing. And the 46-year-old actor has had moments even worse than that. As he explained, after working the New York acting scene for years, the BMW alum and his parents decided to try their luck in Hollywood. This led to a heartbreaking experience for a then-13-year-old Will Friedle, after he'd just taken a meeting with a powerful entertainment figure.

One of my favorite stories I still talk about [is] I was like 13, and I was just out in LA for the first time ever. I had a general meeting with a big casting director, and I walk in and hand her my headshot and resume. I thought I had given her two by accident. It was the last two I had, and my parents and I walked out. I went ‘Oh, I think she has my last picture and resume.’ I have to go get it, and I walked back in and asked, ‘I think I left my resume and picture here.’ And she goes ‘Yeah, it’s in the trash.’ I literally had to walk to the trashcan and pull out my picture and resume and wipe it off and walk out of there.

After the horrendous moment, the actor had to pick himself up and keep things cordial, even going as far as to thank the casting director. But even then, he could find humor in the situation. Apparently, he and his parents would joke about the incident as he would say “It’s in the trash” when asked about his acting material.Doing that to a child sounds so cruel, to say the least. One could argue that if it wasn't for Will Friedle’s passion, that interaction could’ve deterred him from pursuing a Hollywood career. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

While the cast landed their roles on Boy Meets World, that didn’t mean the fear of rejection subsided. Danielle Fishel recalled facing harsh criticisms upon landing the role of Topanga Lawrence. Those criticisms seemed to wear her down, as the BMW vet has since mentioned the “over-it” mindset that tainted her final years on the classic sitcom. It has to be somewhat cathartic for Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle to talk about this stuff now and, if anything, it's interesting (and kind of scary) to get this kind of inside look into what being a child actor in the '90s was like.

This insight into the Boy Meets World cast’s experiences on and off set has cleared the air on mysteries like Cory and Eric’s sister Morgan changing actresses mid-show and the messed-up reason Angela Moore was absent from the series finale. If you want to learn more about the beloved teen sitcom, just listen to the stars' weekly Pod Meets World podcast on iHeartRadio. You can follow along with the rewatch podcast by getting a Disney+ subscription to watch every season.

Adreon Patterson
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A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).