“He disappeared — I wish I knew why, to this day,” Friedle, 46, told Variety in an interview published on Wednesday, June 28. “We didn’t have a fight. There’s no falling out. There was no animosity. He just woke up one day, and decided ‘I don’t want this person in my life anymore.’”
Friedle — who portrayed Eric Matthews, the older brother of Savage’s Cory Matthews, on the beloved sitcom – shared that he “finally sent a text saying, ‘I’ve known you for 30 years, what’s going on? I’m gonna call you every day until you tell me not to call you anymore.’” However, Friedle gave up after “a month” of not hearing back.
“I’ve known him since he was 11 years old, and we have a shared history. And we were doing these conventions together, and we were getting to know each other as adults, and then he just kind of went, ‘I’m done with you,’” he added, noting that their estrangement is a “sore subject” to discuss. “I tried and tried and tried for months, until finally my wife was like, ‘Why are you doing this to yourself? He obviously doesn’t want you in his life.’”
Savage, Friedle, Strong, 43, and Fishel, 42, all starred on the ABC hit from 1993 to 2000, instantly becoming global teen icons. The popular Friday night staple ran for seven seasons and followed Cory and his friends from middle school through their college years. While Friedle was Cory’s whacky older brother, Strong and Fishel portrayed Cory’s childhood best friend and longtime girlfriend, respectively. The sitcom’s revival series, Girl Meets World, premiered on Disney in 2014 — with all four main characters making appearances throughout the show’s three seasons.
For years, the group did fan conventions together — until Savage stopped without any notice. “He just kind of disappeared from our lives,” Fishel told Variety on Wednesday, adding that Savage was there for her when her first son was born early and in the NICU in June 2019. (Fishel shares two sons, Adler, 4, and Keaton, 2, with husband Jensen Karp.)
“We were just so, so close, especially during that time. He was checking in with me regularly,” she recalled. While Fishel claimed that Savage “ghosted us” after that time, she revealed that she remains hopeful they will all reconnect in the future.
“If there’s anything this podcast has taught me, it’s that everyone is on their own journey and having their own experiences that can be perceived many different ways, depending on your POV,” she explained. “Speaking for myself, Ben and I may be estranged right now and we may have our complaints about each other, but I will always love Ben and want what’s best for him. I don’t think this is the end of our story — but time will tell.”
When it comes to their podcast, “Pod Meets World” — a rewatch show where the actors watch the sitcom for the first time and recap the series from their own perspective — Savage turned down the idea from the very beginning.
“He was very adamant that it was not for him,” Fishel shared. “He was also very clear, ‘I don’t want it to stop you. If you guys want to do it, go ahead.’ The time between those conversations and the time we actually started the podcast was a significant amount of time.”
Strolling down memory lane may not have been the right decision for Savage, but Fishel, Strong and Friedle have garnered great success from the podcast, including seeing more than 17 million downloads and selling popular merchandise. The trio have also done two live shows and had on a slew of BMW guest stars including Betsy Randle, Trina McGee, Matthew Lawrence, Adam Scott and Mr. Feeny himself William Daniels.