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Will Friedle, Rider Strong on ‘Boy Meets World’ guest star Brian Peck

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“Boy Meets World” stars Will Friedle and Rider Strong are opening up about their past relationship with an actor who guest starred on the series.

Friedle, Strong and co-star Danielle Fishel used Monday’s episode of their rewatch podcast “Pod Meets World” to address their relationship with series stand-in Brian Peck, who Fishel said began appearing on the children’s sitcom during Season 5 in 1997.

“We knew this deserved a more detailed discussion, especially even since we as hosts are still unpacking everything involved, and we know the discourse around this subject has culturally ramped up,” Fishel said.

Peck was arrested in August 2003 on a charge of lewd acts with a child, according to a press release from the Los Angeles Police Department. The arrest stemmed from a 2001 incident in which the actor allegedly molested a child he was coaching over a six-month period. Fishel noted during the episode that Peck was subsequently “convicted and spent 16 months in prison.”

Despite being his in late 30s at the time of production, Friedle and Strong said Peck quickly befriended the young actors.

“I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t really do that stuff. But I was working a lot after ‘Boy Meets World,’ and this guy had so ingratiated himself into my life, I took him to three shows after ‘Boy Meets World,'” Friedle said. “This was the type of thing where the person he presented was this great, funny guy who was really good at his job and you wanted to hang out with.”

Fishel, who said she didn’t develop a close relationship with Peck, speculated that Peck’s status as an openly gay man may have factored into why the actor’s behavior was overlooked at the time, due to the “rampant” homophobia in the ’90s.

“The other adults on set who maybe could have or should have said, ‘Why are you guys going to lunch with this guy?’ ‘Why is this guy going to Rider’s house for a party?’ There was probably a part of them that didn’t say it because they were afraid it was going to be taken as homophobia, instead of, ‘This is a boundary, gay or not. This is a boundary about adults and kids,'” Fishel said. “And so, I also think that’s important in the story of Rider and Will, about why he befriended the two of you so closely.”

USA TODAY has reached out to a representative for Peck for comment.

Will Friedle, Rider Strong talk Brian Peck’s sexual misconduct

When Peck was arrested in 2003, Friedle and Strong said he framed his legal trouble as an incident in which he was victimized by the minor he was sexually involved with.

“He didn’t say that nothing had happened,” Strong said. “So, by the time we heard about this case and knew anything about it, it was always in the context of, ‘I did this thing, I am guilty. I am going to take whatever punishment the government determines, but I’m a victim of jailbait. There was this hot guy. I just did this thing, and he’s underage.’ And we bought that storyline.”

Friedle also recalled going to court to show support for Peck, along with other child stars the actor knew.

“We’re sitting in that courtroom on the wrong side of everything,” Friedle said. “The victim’s mother turned and said, ‘Look at all the famous people you brought with you. And it doesn’t change what you did to my kid.’ I just sat there wanting to die. It was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ It was horrifying all the way around.”

“There’s an actual victim here. And he turned us against the victim to where now we’re on his team,” Friedle added, calling his support of Peck his “ever-loving shame.” “That’s the thing I can’t get over and haven’t been able to get over.”

Rider Strong recalls running into Brian Peck years after alleged grooming

Strong said he ran into Peck at a party about seven years ago and described the interaction as “one of the most intense experiences in my life.”

“It felt like an out-of-body experience where I’m having a conversation with him, and I was finally able to hear the name-dropping,” Strong said. “The story that he was telling me was nonsense, but what he was letting me know was that he was with famous people who validate him and put him in a category of Hollywood royalty. He did that constantly when we were on the set of ‘Boy Meets World,’ and I never saw it because it was so effortless.”

While Strong expressed concern that his and Friedle’s accounts might overshadow the legacy of the show, Friedle emphasized the importance of addressing this part of his past.

“This has to do with me now, as a 47-year-old man, and the person I’ve become, and this affected me as a person,” Friedle said. “It doesn’t affect my memory of the show in any way, shape or form. As a matter of fact, most of my memories of this person and this manipulation happened after ‘Boy’ for me. So, I think people will disconnect the two.”

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July 2024
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