Danielle Fishel is speaking out about the rocky road she had at the start of her tenure on ABC’s Boy Meets World.
The 41-year-old actress, who played Topanga Lawrence–Matthews on the sitcom, shared on a recent appearance on the Pod Meets World podcast that she almost got the boot from the show after her first day of rehearsal.
According to her, the series creator Michael Jacobs wasn’t impressed at all with her delivery when she came on set.
Almost fired: Danielle Fishel, 41, recalled on Pod Meets World that she was nearly fired after her first day of rehearsals by Boy Meets World creator Michael Jacobs because her delivery was too fast; seen in May in LA
Fishel explained that she wasn’t the original choice to play Topanga, and she didn’t even get a callback for the part. But after the original actress didn’t work out, she was given the part.
She learned that she had gotten the part on a Friday night, and she was expected on set on Monday.
But after a day of rehearsals, she had an embarrassing confrontation with Jacobs in which he honed in on her delivery, which she said was much too fast, owing to her age and inexperience.
‘I had never been a part of his marathon notes session. This was my first one because it was my very fist week,’ she 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.”
Ouch: ‘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,’ she said; seen on Boy Meets World
‘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 recounted.
The actress was joined by her mother, who had been sitting in the audience, for the notes session.
‘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,’ Danielle said. ‘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.’
She noted that she was getting nervous just recounting the incident, even decades later.
Danielle and her mother went to work running through her lines to perfect them until late into the night.
David Trainer, a guest on the episode and a former director on Boy Meets World, sounded apologetic as he chastised Jacobs’ approach and called her memory a ‘hateful story.’
Hard work: She stayed up late into the night working on her lines with her mother. Director David Trainer criticized Jacobs and called it a ‘hateful story’; publicity still for Boy Meets World
‘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. To hear this, you’re sweating? 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.’
He continued, ‘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.’
Danielle admitted she was less concerned with perfecting her performance and more focused on how she could ‘get it right’ to satisfy the creator.
‘That’s the problem for me, that’s what I remember feeling. That’s what I don’t think is healthy,’ added co-host Rider Strong.
Wrong motivation: Danielle was overjoyed at Jacobs’ praise the following day, but she and her costars recalled being more concerned with pleasing him than giving the best performance; publicity still for Boy Meets World
But the actress also enjoyed the rush of being praised by Jacobs, which happened after her she returned for a second day of rehearsals.
‘”Let’s give Danielle a round of applause, you did exactly what I asked of you,”‘ she recounted the creator saying. ‘”Thank you, thank you. Congratulations, it was wonderful.”
‘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,’ she continued. ‘It totally sets up that you go after that every week. You’re chasing the dragon of Michael approval.’
Co-host Will Friedle added that the praise had ‘nothing to do with your acting. It was just, make Michael feel good.’