Rider Strong and Ben Savage in Boy Meets World. Picture: Touchstone Television/Everett Collection
Rider Strong and Ben Savage in Boy Meets World. Picture: Touchstone Television/Everett Collection

Sitcom star’s backstage meltdown

ONE of the stars from '90s sitcom Boy Meets World has opened up about his backstage meltdown.

Rider Strong played troubled youth Shawn Hunter on the show, the best friend of Cory Matthew (who was played by Ben Savage).

He was 13 years old when he landed the role on Boy Meets World, which ended up running for seven seasons from 1993 to 2000.

 

Will Friedle, Betsy Randle, Ben Savage, William Russ, Lily Nicksay, William Daniels and Rider Strong in Boy Meets World.
Will Friedle, Betsy Randle, Ben Savage, William Russ, Lily Nicksay, William Daniels and Rider Strong in Boy Meets World.

 

The sitcom was a huge hit and Strong quickly became one of the most popular teen stars in the US.

But as the actor told Vice, he struggled to cope with his fame.

"I wanted to be a poet and academic writer and was told no, everyone just wants you to be the guy who loves being on TV and runs his hand through his hair a certain way," he told Vice. "I hated that.

"I did a Sail With the Stars charity cruise when I was 15, and that was the most crystal-clear moment where I had a breakdown because it was just so alienating.

"You're stuck on a boat with, like, 600 fans and their families who feel like they have access to you. They want a certain version of you, whether that's Shawn Hunter or this perfect teen idol boyfriend, and suddenly, you have to be that person 24 hours a day. It was just the worst."

 

Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel and Ben Savage in 2006. Picture: Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com
Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel and Ben Savage in 2006. Picture: Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

 

Not long after the cruise, Strong's girlfriend broke up with him and the teen actor had another breakdown as he sat in his Boy Meets World dressing room.

"My mum and dad were there, and everybody was waiting for me to get out and do the show," he told Vice. "I didn't want to do it. I felt like my life was over, and I couldn't stop crying.

"My dad just said, 'OK, let's quit the show. We'll get up. I'll tell them we're leaving, and I don't give a f**k. We'll break the contract; we'll get sued. I don't care. It's too important to me. You don't have to do this'."

His dad's words shocked him, and Strong decided not to quit the show.

"It showed me that my parents would love me, even if I failed at this," he said. "Every young kid needs to hear that, but especially when you're a child actor in this position, where your career starts to take on a life of its own, and you see that it's helping everybody's lives."

 

Rider Strong and his wife Alexandra Barreto earlier this month.
Rider Strong and his wife Alexandra Barreto earlier this month.

 

Now 39, Strong still works in the entertainment industry. He has a podcast called Literary Disco, is in the process of writing a novel and next month will open a play he wrote called Never Ever Land.

And yes, he's still mates with all his former Boy Meets World co-stars.

 

The Boy Meets World cast, then and now.
The Boy Meets World cast, then and now.

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