The '90s TV stars are speaking out about their "uncomfortable" kissing scenes as child actors.
During a recent episode of Pod Meets World, the podcast hosted by Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle, the former costars discussed the awkward experience of shooting intimate scenes as young actors.
In the episode, Friedle, who played Eric Matthews, recalled his first onscreen kiss, which was filmed when he was 17 years old. "The script said, 'and they kiss...a good kiss,'" the actor, now 46, stated. He then asked guest star Kerri Russel what exactly that meant. "Without missing a beat, she said, 'Tongue.' I will never forget that," he said.
Friedle also reflected on playing one of the show's heartthrobs who dated a lot of girls, which he described as "horribly uncomfortable" and "really creepy," according to Buzzfeed News.
"Everyone talks like, 'Oh man, you get to kiss all those girls!' But it's not as awesome as you might think it is," he said during the episode, which aired on Thursday. "It really is horribly uncomfortable, and to do it in front of an audience and hearing people go 'woo' and all this, it's really uncomfortable."
Fishel and Strong—who played Topanga Lawrence and Shawn Hunter, respectively—agreed, with Strong adding, "There were times when it was fun, but other times when it wasn't, and it just really depended on the person."
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The former castmates also made a point to address the "power disparity" going on between them as regular actors and the guest actors who were brought in for them to kiss.
"It puts the [guest] actor in a position of saying: 'I'm not gonna say I don't want you to put your tongue down my throat,'" Friedle explained.
Strong then talked about how much they would have benefitted from an intimacy coordinator at the time, which his co-hosts agreed with.
"The role of an intimacy coordinator makes so much sense to me," he said. "I love the idea. That never existed, and now it's become pretty standard on set and I love it. I've never worked with one personally, but I totally think that it's a necessary role because you can't just trust that a director or a producer is going to have the experience or the delicate tone that is required of that situation."
"I think having an assigned person just to navigate that with the actors is great and an essential role," Friedle chimed in.
"You weren't really supposed to say, 'I don't want to do this. I don't feel comfortable,'" Fishel added. "You're a prop; as an actor you say the words and do what's written on the page, no questions asked."
Strong added, "Having autonomy as a child actor is very difficult. It's so unhealthy."
Friedle, Strong, and Fishel launched "Pod Meets World" back in June. Every week, they rewatch an episode of their show, which they haven't seen since the '90s, and analyze it from their adult perspectives.
The podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Music, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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