Boy Meets World was one of the most beloved series of the 1990s. For seven years, fans tuned in and fell in love with Cory, Topanga, Shawn, and the whole Matthews family.
The show even enjoyed a brief revival in the form of Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, featuring the characters as adults and focusing on Cory and Topanga’s children.
One of the original series cast members recently revealed that anxiety prevented him from pursuing additional on-screen work following the series finale. According to People, Will Friedle, who played Cory’s older brother Eric Matthews, spoke frankly about his battle with anxiety during a New York Comic Con panel.
It’s surprising to think of Will — who played a goofy, outgoing, fun-loving character — as someone who secretly struggled with anxiety. But what drove him away from on-screen roles helped him develop another passion that afforded him tons of success: voice acting. You might or might not know that the actor portrayed another super-popular character on Disney Channel: He voiced Ron Stoppable in the animated series Kim Possible.
Will won over hearts in a big way as the lovable, goofy Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World.
While Will was comfortable in portraying the role, he started having issues in his early 20s that would ultimately steer him away from on-screen acting.
During a panel at New York Comic Con, the actor revealed that he began experiencing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder in his early 20s.
He grew less comfortable in on-screen roles but still had the desire to work in the industry.
Ultimately, this led him to pursue voice acting.
“What brought me to voice-over was anxiety,” Will explained at Comic Con earlier this month.
Entertainment Weekly revealed that the actor told guests of the panel that voice work became the best outlet for his creativity as his battles with anxiety began.
“I was planning to do more on-camera work,” he divulged, “but then I got hit with these anxiety attacks that prevented me from doing that. I was so thankful I had voice-over because I could still perform and act.”
Two years after the end of Boy Meets World, Will found himself voicing Ron Stoppable on the Disney animated series Kim Possible.
Since then, he has amassed a large body of voice work. He voiced Bumblebee in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Lion-O in Thundercats, and Terry McGinnis/Batman in Batman Beyond.
Although voice work has become most of what he does, Will found himself back in front of the camera once again as Eric Matthews with the Boy Meets World reboot Girl Meets World.
Will explained that being offered the ability to reprise the character with no pressure was a big draw for him.
“[Creator] Michael [Jacobs] was like, ‘Come back if you want to come back.’ So I’ve been slowly starting that again, and it’s been fun,” he said.
That doesn’t mean he’s done with voice acting, of course. But when he teased some of what the future might hold, that included some new on-camera work.
“Danielle [Fishel] and I are maybe doing something in the future. We’ve got cool stuff coming down the line,” he revealed.
“We developed an on-camera show that we are shopping currently,” his former costar added.
This isn’t the first time Will has opened up about his anxiety and how it impacted his career.
In an interview with Australia’s Celebrity Nine, the actor said: “When I was about 23 or 24 I got hit with an anxiety disorder pretty badly. It was one of those things that changed the course of my life, and in a lot of ways, it changed it for the better. Being on camera, auditioning, that whole stressful side of the industry, I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
It’s awesome that Will found a way to still be in the industry he loves without forcing himself into an uncomfortable or unhealthy environment.
Despite the fact that Girl Meets World wasn’t given the chance to live up to fans’ expectations, we have a hunch that we haven’t seen the last of Eric or the rest of the Matthews family just yet. If the cast’s appearance at Comic Con is any indication, there are still plenty more stories to tell with this unforgettable group of characters. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing more of Will’s other upcoming work!