Fans of Boy Meets World may be surprised to hear that the role of one of the show’s main characters was originally going to be portrayed by a different actor. Former Disney Channel actress Christy Carlson Romano, known for her playing the title role in Kim Possible, as well as her work on Even Stevens and Cadet Kelly, recently hosted actor Will Friedle on her podcast, Vulnerable With Christy Carlson Romano. During their discussion, the actor who portrayed Eric Matthews on the hit ABC and Disney Channel series shared the story of his audition and how he almost missed his shot at the role.
While discussing Friedle’s role on Boy , the actor shared that he almost didn’t get the role of ‘ due to him staying home sick on the day of his audition.
Friedle shared, “An audition came for something called ‘the untitled Ben Savage project,’ and they wanted me to come for the older brother to New York. I was 16, and the day of the audition came, and I got sick and couldn’t go. And they cast somebody else, and they shot the pilot, the untitled Ben Savage project with a different Eric Matthews.”
The actor who had originally been chosen and filmed the pilot for the role was Harry Barandes, who did not end up staying in the Boy Meets World family because producers were concerned about his height. Apparently Barandes was too close in height to Ben Savage, who was playing Cory, the youngest of the Matthews brothers, and producers knew that Savage would grow as the show went on and he could end up being taller than Barandes. Ultimately, Barandes lost the role because producers wanted the actor who played Eric to be taller, at least for the majority of the series.
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“So they called again,” Friedle continued, “And now the show is called the weirdest name in television, I looked down and saw ‘Boy Meets World,’ Who is ever going to watch anything called Boy Meets World?” Then the actor pointed out that the show had already been picked up for 13 episodes, so he was not confident he would even get the part.
Friedle passed through the initial audition in New York, then flew out to California for a screen test, where he was put up against other actors in consideration including Jason Marsden, and Shiloh Strong (older brother to Rider Strong, who ended up playing Cory’s best friend, Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World.)
After his screen test, Friedle stopped at a payphone and called his agent, expecting to hear that he didn’t make the cut for the show but he was surprised to know that he had. Shooting for the series was set to begin soon after the phone call, so Friedle and his father who had accompanied him on the trip took a quick run through Los Angeles tourist attractions before promptly figuring out their move to California, and the rest was history!
Since Friedle got the role for and became one of the most beloved big brothers on TV from 1993-2000, fans are likely thankful he was given a second chance to audition. (How could the Feeny call have been performed by anyone else?!)
Will Friedle also joined Christy Carlson Romano on Kim Possible, playing the role of Kim’s trusty sidekick, Ron Stoppable. Since the Disney Channel and Boy Meets World days, Friedle has done a lot of voiceover work for series including Transformers: Rescue Bots, Teen Titans Go!, Big Hero 6: The Series, and more.
Since Boy ended, the has been revived with Girl on and Disney+. The new show follows , the daughter of () and (Daniel Fishel), along similar plot points set in .
You can listen to the full podcast episode here, and watch all seven seasons of Boy Meets World anytime on Disney+.