William Daniels Almost Turned Down ‘Boy Meets World’ Role

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Dream, try, do good. William Daniels is known for portraying one of TV’s most iconic teachers on Boy Meets World — but his role as Mr. Feeny almost never came to fruition!

“I asked for a meeting [with showrunner Michael Jacobs] because I turned it down and he wanted to know why,” Williams, 95, recalled during the Sunday, July 10, episode of “Pod Meets World,” which is hosted by fellow BMW stars Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle. “I said ‘Well, that’s a funny name and I don’t want to make fun of teachers. I respect them and they’re unpaid and all that.’ Then he told me what my role was based on, which was a mentor of his when he was in high school.”

Strong, 42, recalled the first episode’s table read that ended in disaster when Daniels threatened to walk off the show. 

Boy Meets World Actor William Daniels Dead AGETK

William Daniels and Ben Savage in ‘Boy Meets World.’
Touchstone Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

“Bill was very upset and the table read did not go well,” the Girl Meets World alum revealed. “Bill was upset, the network was upset and Michael was sort of stuck in between the two impulses. … I remember Bill threatening to leave.” 

Daniels’ wife, Bonnie Bartlett, confirmed Strong’s memory of the incident, adding that Jacobs, 67, wasn’t able to fully win over the New York native until he agreed to change aspects of the family sitcom. “He rewrote something and the powers that be didn’t want to, but he made them and that’s what sold [him],” she said.

“I was afraid [Feeny] would be the butt of the joke [but then] I realized the plot would be written with respect,” Daniels explained of his decision to ultimately stick with the TGIF hit. The Blue Lagoon star ended up staying with the show for all seven seasons, even inviting the Golden Girls alum, 93, to join him on the final installment as Dean Bolander, Mr. Feeny’s love interest. 

Fishel, 41, later opened up about the impact Daniels had not just on viewers, but on his fellow castmates.

“I can very easily cry thinking about that last scene that we did with you at the end of our show,” the actress, 34, who played Topanga on the show, shared at the time. “For all the years that we worked together, gosh, seeing you, and being with you in that last scene in the classroom, really nailed home for me that this was the end of an era. It was also very much the end of my childhood.”

Strong, Fishel and Friedle, who played Shawn Hunter, Topanga Lawerence and Eric Matthews respectively, kicked off their podcast in June. The show follows the actors as they revisit their characters and rewatch every episode of the iconic family sitcom, which ran from 1993 to 2000. The trio will be joined by other guest stars in addition to Daniels  —  including Trina McGeeBetsy RandleWilliam “Rusty” RussMaitland Ward and Matthew Lawrence — along the way.

In June, Us Weekly exclusively spoke with Friedle, 45, and Fishel about why Ben Savage, who starred as Cory Matthews on the ABC comedy, wasn’t joining his former costars on their nostalgic journey. 

“We have been talking about this podcast since 2019, it was Rider’s idea. When he brought it up, we talked about it all, the four of us,” the Kim Possible album revealed to Us at the time. “It was something we all were back and forth.”

Fishel, for her part, explained that they all “talked about the different ways we could do it,” but at the end of the day, Savage, 41, decided “‘I don’t think it’s for me,’” and bowed out of the project. 

“We get it. We’re respecting his decision,” the Arizona native continued. “And if he eventually wants to come on, we’ll leave that door open.”

Friedle added, “I hope he comes on.”

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