‘Boy Meets World’ star Danielle Fishel was the second choice for Topanga Lawrence after actress Bonnie Morgan
By Lori A Bashian
“Boy Meets World” almost had a different leading lady.
During a recent appearance on the “Pod Meets World” podcast, Bonnie Morgan, known for her role as Samara in “The Ring,” opened up to hosts Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle about her experience getting hired to play Topanga Lawrence on the show and how she felt when she was eventually let go.
“I had three callbacks,” she said. “They kept bringing me back, and … it was rooms full of people every time. And, weirdly, every time I’d audition, we’d talk a lot. Every time I’d come back, the script would change slightly, it seemed, to things we had talked about.”
Morgan felt a connection to the role. She said the character Topanga had hippie parents, and, in real-life, her mother “grew kombucha mushrooms in our kitchen.”
Morgan added the name Topanga “was out of my parents’ love history,” noting they “got married in Topanga Canyon. It was the coolest thing ever.”
Morgan then explained she was told by her agent that the creator of the show, Michael Jacobs, loved her for the part. However, there was apparently a “power struggle,” and she was “stuck in the middle of it.”
After surviving the power struggle, Morgan arrived on set for her first day, calling it “the weirdest the day of my life.”
She remembered “all the adults were short with me” and described the table read as “fun” but said things went downhill after that.
“Now, we’re blocking, and Ben [Savage] kind of started poking at me a little bit. He would make faces and try to break me, and it worked. At this point, I was becoming a nervous wreck,” she recalled. “I couldn’t get his name, the opening line, Cory … and [director] David [Trainer] was just like, ‘Get it together.’ I’m trying to pull it together. I pulled it together in sheer fear, and Ben just kept doing this thing to crack me up.”
“At one point, I had a line. It was a sweet line, and David went, ‘I want you to say it sweeter …’ So, I said it sweeter, and he said, ‘No, I want you to say it.’ And he got really close to me, ‘Like you’re saying happy birthday,'” she added.
“I was so tiny at that moment, and I just said, ‘OK, I will.’ And he goes, ‘Do it now. Wish me a happy birthday.’ I took every bit of saccharine in my body, and I said ‘happy birthday,’ and he went, ‘Good, that’s better.'”
Despite how the day went, Morgan was excited to come back the following Monday and went home feeling things would get better. She was even working on ideas for how she could incorporate her contortion skills into a scene they would be filming.
The next morning, Morgan explained, she woke up ready to celebrate her new job when the phone rang during breakfast. Her father answered the phone.
“He just said, ‘What? You’re kidding. They fired you. You’re fired,'” Morgan recalled.
“The director said that I couldn’t take direction, which was one thing I’d never been accused of.
“My agent immediately fought back on that one. It came out very quickly to my agent that the director didn’t think I was pretty enough. Literally did not think I was pretty enough. So, that meant that a grown man, a boss, could lie and tell me I was untalented because the fact was he didn’t think I was pretty.”
Reps for ABC and Trainer did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Morgan described feeling “shattered” when she heard the news, saying, “I don’t know a lot of adults that could take that one.”
When the show eventually aired, the only time she watched was when the pilot premiered.
The role eventually went to Fishel, who played the character until the end of the original series in 2000 and again in the 2014 Disney Channel reboot series “Girl Meets World.”
Fishel recently spoke on the podcast about being sexualized at a young age while starring on the show.
“As a kid, I always wanted to be older. I always wanted to be an adult, I wanted to be seen as an adult. And so getting adult male attention as a teenage girl … I didn’t think of it as being creepy or weird,” she admitted.
“It felt like it was validation that I was mature. And I was an adult. And I was capable. And that they were seeing me the way I was, not for the number on a page. And, in hindsight, that is absolutely wrong.”
Fishel acknowledged that while she was always confident in speaking with adults, “in a romantic, male gaze sense, I should not have been outwardly talked about at 14, 15, 16 years old.”
“Even directly to me,” she added during the podcast, “I had people tell me they had my 18th birthday on their calendar. I had a male executive — I did a calendar at 16 — and he specifically told me he had a certain calendar month in his bedroom.”
Fox News Digital’s Emily Trainham contributed to this report