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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Rider Strong From Boy Meets World Anymore

From 1993 to 2000, "Boy Meets World" was a TGIF staple. The show shared a Friday primetime block with kid-friendly sitcoms "Family Matters" and "Step By Step." When those two shows moved on, "Boy Meets World" endured, sitting comfortably alongside "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" and various other swings (and misses) for the Friday primetime block. On "Boy Meets World," Rider Strong played Cory's (Ben Savage) best friend, Shawn Hunter. In contrast to Cory's idyllic life, Shawn's storylines often had the teenager grapple with some serious life issues. He was abandoned by his stepmother several times and he lost his father soon after they reunited, for starters.

After "Boy Meets World" wrapped, the world saw less and less of Strong. He disappeared from television sets for years until he reprised the role of Shawn, all grown up, for "Girl Meets World." Years later, Strong opened up about why his presence became scarce. It turns out the same storylines that made him memorable have something to do with the reason why Hollywood seemingly won't cast him anymore.

Rider Strong says he was difficult to deal with on Boy Meets World

"I wanted to be a poet and academic writer," Strong said in an interview with Vice. The actor admitted that his desire to be considered a serious professional clouded his judgment during his time on "Boy Meets World." As an adult, he now recognizes his aloofness. "There was definitely a period where I thought I was way cooler than 'Boy Meets World,'" he explained.

As a result, the writers wrote more dramatic storylines to keep the teenage Strong interested in his role. Regardless of their efforts, he was still miserable. He didn't enjoy living up to the expectations that came along with fame. He recalled one instance when he participated in a Sail With the Stars charity cruise that left him scarred. Regarding the fans on the boat, Strong felt that they "want a certain version of you, whether that's Shawn Hunter or this perfect teen idol boyfriend, and suddenly, you have to be that person 24 hours a day."

Strong nearly quit "Boy Meets World" soon after, but finished the show's run with the support of his parents.

He's happy to move on

After "Boy Meets World" ended, Strong enrolled at Columbia University, per his website. According to Mental Floss, his famous classmates included Anna Paquin, Julia Stiles, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Their feature-film stardom meant he received less attention from the media while in school, which he preferred. During his studies, Strong stayed away from Hollywood, only taking one semester off to film the indie horror hit "Cabin Fever." He continued his education after Columbia and earned an MFA in Fiction and Literature from Bennington College.

Afterward, Strong returned to work in the entertainment industry. Instead of television roles, he took on more horror films, including 2017's "Borderland," "Pulse 3," and "Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever." Finding that he preferred to remain behind the camera, Strong also began co-directing short films with his brother. In between projects, he also lends his voice to narrate audiobooks. Since his reprisal of Shawn Hunter on "Girl Meets World," Strong has added voiceover work to his list of credits, including the Disney animated shows "Mighty Magiswords," and "Star vs. The Forces of Evil."

He prefers to stay behind the camera

The next-gen spin-off "Girl Meets World" saw the return of Rider Strong to network television. Although he was reluctant to return, he said he was able to find a compromise with the show. "I knew that playing Shawn again was going to be the final nail in the coffin of ever doing anything else as an actor," he told Vice. "So I did a trade."

Strong originally asked for seven episodes but ended up directing 18 of them for the show, which ran for three seasons. Former co-stars Danielle Fishel and Ben Savage also directed a handful of "Girl Meets World" episodes, bringing the history of the show full circle. Soon after, he co-directed the TV movie "Micah the A**hole Ghost" with brother Shiloh.

Strong is now a husband and father; he married actress Alexandria Barreto ("Mayans M.C.") in 2013 and they have one son. Strong continues his creative pursuits, hosting the weekly book review podcast "Literary Disco." His latest short, "Typhoon: We're In It," is listed as in post-production on IMDb.