Saying goodbye to Mr. Feeny was tough, but saying goodbye to each other was even harder. Boy Meets World‘s Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel and Will Friedle can recount filming the final episode of the beloved series like it was yesterday.
“Watching that scene was exactly how long it took us to do it,” Friedle, 45, exclusively tells Us Weekly.
“It was grueling,” Strong, 42, adds. “It was very emotional.”
After seven seasons, Shawn Hunter (Strong), Topanga Lawrence (Fishel), Eric Matthews (Friedle) and Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) tearfully hugged their former principal and mentor, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels), in a John Adams High classroom.
“It was the last scene of the last show in front of an audience on a tape night. We were saying goodbye to each other in real life. I was moving to New York to go to college, just like the character of Shawn. So I knew I was gonna be saying goodbye to these, not only this job, but this coast. It was super emotional. There’s no separation between Shawn and Rider at that point,” Strong explains to Us.
“Same for Topanga,” Fishel chimes in. “Those tears you see me crying are real. And we didn’t rehearse it either. We read it at the table read, which is the very start of our week. We read it so that the network and the producers could hear it. And then we all agreed that it was gonna be too hard to get through. And we also didn’t wanna ruin it by rehearsing it a bunch. So we just didn’t touch it for the entire week until we got to the tape night.”
The brief scene took only one take. As Mr. Feeny says, “Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good,” Topanga memorably questions his phrasing.
“Don’t you mean do well?” Topanga asks. He replies: “No. I mean do good.”
For Friedle, it was hard to grasp that the next day would be the start of a new chapter.
“It’s very strange to be with the same people every day for seven years and then one Thursday night, you wake up Friday morning and it’s over,” he says. “And that’s it. It was just over.”
Boy Meets World ended in 2000, with Fishel and Savage reprising their roles in Disney’s Girl Meets World for three seasons until 2017. In June, Fishel, Strong and Friedle launched the “Pod Meets World,” podcast, where they will recap every episode and bring on former guest stars.
“We constantly use the word unpack on our podcast. I’m sure that’s something we will unpack as we get there seven years from now,” Friedle jokes to Us of the show’s final episode.
“It’s just been interesting when we started the podcast to realize that actually a lot of our memories are of being in school together, the actual set school, which is something fans have no idea of what that’s like,” Strong adds. “But we were spending three to four hours a day in a room with two teachers and all of us kids. Everybody working on their own subject. And that’s really where we socialized. That’s where really where we hung out.”
More behind-the-scenes memories like that will be introduced to listeners weekly. “That’s where we exchanged personal stories. Cause on set, you’re working,” Fishel notes. “And if you’re talking too much in between rehearsal times you’re getting in trouble. So there really wasn’t a lot of time for that. But the leisurely stroll back to school where they really want us to be running back to school, we’d take our time, stop at craft service.”
The trio may bring different memories to the mic, but they can all agree on what the show has meant to them.
“It was the entirety of my teenage years. I was on the show from 12 until I was 19 years old. I’m looking at this as being like I’m opening a time capsule,” Fishel tells Us. “And I’m kind of digging through the time capsule and letting whatever emotions come to me kind of come to me for the first time. Because I think I’ve never really touched on it. There have been little snippets here and there where something will come up or a memory will get sparked, but then you go back to your normal life. And this podcast is really giving us an opportunity to quiet everything else and really focus on this.”
“I wanna take that answer,” Friedle teases.
“There’s no other answer,” Strong admits. “The only other thing I would add is that it’s also been already so fun to just be together. We hang out, but, you know, every couple of months. Now we’re hanging out once a week. And so, it’s been great. It’s just been really great to hang out with these two and be on this journey together.”
“Pod Meets World” is distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. For more, follow the podcast here.