Danielle Fishel played Topanga Lawrence on seven seasons of “Boy Meets World”, but she’s now revealing that her first day on the set of the beloved sitcom was nearly her last.
During a recent edition of the “Pod Meets World” podcast (as reported by Variety), Fishel and co-hosts Rider Strong and Will Friedle were joined by director David Trainer to look back on their time on the show.
As Fishel recalled, she learned she landed the role on a Friday night, and was told to be on set Monday morning.
Just 12 at the time, she noted that her first run-through didn’t go well, and she was given notes by series creator Michael Jacobs.
“I had never been a part of his marathon notes session. This was my first one because it was my very first week,” Fishel said.
“Michael starts off the notes by saying, ‘Danielle, I’m going to give you your notes all at one time, at the end and I’m going to give everyone else their notes now, because if I made everyone sit here through all of the notes I had for you, we would all be here for hours and no one would ever get to go home. So you’re just going to wait for the end.’ From that moment on, my eyes welled up because you know, I’m now in front of everybody — all the producers, all the writers, all the cast and all eyes are on me for a second,” she added.
“He went through every single one of my lines and what he wanted and what I wasn’t doing right and how slow I needed to talk,” she continued. “What I know specifically was said is, ‘All I know is, if you don’t come back tomorrow doing this entirely differently, you are also not going to be here,’ referencing the girl I had replaced.”
Trainer, who had directed episodes of “Boy Meets World”, shared his thoughts.
“I worked for Michael for years on multiple shows. This is a hateful story,” he said. “There’s many wonderful things about him, but there’s hateful things. This is one… I’m really pissed. It’s enough to make me want to sign off of this podcast. I don’t want to be associated with anything that guy is associated with. This is just not how you do things. I’m glad it became a hit, but this is disgusting.”
According to Trainer, working on one of Jacobs’ productions could be harrowing.
“Everybody who worked with Michael understood, implicitly or explicitly, whenever Michael lurched to one side of the boat, everybody went to the other side to keep it from going under … The job was — and that’s why I hated it ultimately — was to do your job but to also prevent swamping and drowning,” he added.
Fishel worked on her lines with her mother all night, and when she showed up the next day she demonstrated enough of an improvement that she impressed Jacobs, recalling that he stood up and declared, “Let’s give Danielle a round of applause, you did exactly what I asked of you. Thank you, thank you. Congratulations, it was wonderful.”
According to Fishel, “He gave me some praise about some specific things and then, he started notes. There were no more threats of being fired, I had done the work and I had shown him that I was worthy. It totally sets up that you go after that every week. You’re chasing the dragon of Michael approval.”
“He set it up in such a way that for now when he gives you the standing ovation, it’s like the sun is shining on you,” agreed Freidle, who played Eric Matthews on the show. “It had nothing to do with your acting. It was just, make Michael feel good.”