Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
April 15, 2007.
Danielle Fishel has grown up before our eyes. In seven
seasons of ABCís beloved TGIF sitcom Boy Meets World, she played
Topanga Lawrence, the sweet and beautiful girlfriend of Cory
Matthews (Ben Savage), the boy
who was, indeed, meeting the world. Since the series went off the air in
2000, Fishel has done some low-budget independent films like
Longshot and Dorm Daze 1 & 2,
hosted a sports talk show and also works as a
correspondent on The Tyra Banks Show.
Fishelís latest film release is Gamebox 1.0 Ė a thriller
about a video game tester (played by Nate Richert, another TGIF veteran who
played boyfriend Harvey on Sabrina the Teenaged Witch) who drowns
his sorrow about the killing of his girlfriend in a video haze. When he is
sent a mysterious and strangely realistic new console, he realizes that this
game is for his life. Fishel plays both the murdered girlfriend Kate and
Princess, her video-gaming counterpart.
As Gamebox 1.0 was gearing up for its video release, Fishel
was nice enough to check in with us and let us know about the movie and what
itís like to come of age in front of the camera.
You have been
acting since you were about ten. How did you get started?
When I was in elementary school, there was a girl who was a couple
of years older than me who came to school one day and said that she had
gotten an agent and she was going to be a model. I thought she was really
pretty and just really cool, basically. So I decided that I wanted to do
the same thing. I went home and told my mom that I wanted to be a model and
she told me, ďWell, you canít. Youíre only two and a half feet tall.Ē
(laughs) So I went back to school and I was disappointed,
and I told my
little friend I canít be a model. Iím too short. She said, ďOh, my agent is
going to put me on TV, too. I donít think you have to be tall to be on
TV.Ē So that was basically it.
I went home and decided you donít have to be
tall to be on TV, mom and thatís what I want to do.
For about a year I
begged her to let me start auditioning and get an agent. Finally she
probably still best known for your role of Topanga on
Boy Meets World. What was it like to be a
part of the show and how surreal was it to be part of the show at the height
It was great. It was definitely, probably going to be always the
most cherished memory of my childhood. We spent a long time together, from
twelve to nineteen, so most of my very formative years were spent with those
people. They are like family to me. Yeah, I guess it was kind of surreal.
Although, I guess when you start acting at ten and by the time youíre
sixteen or seventeen youíre on the cover of magazines, youíre kind prepared
for it. Youíre aware what youíre getting into from the very beginning. I
think it was actually more surreal for the people I was going to school
with. They just saw me as being regular old Danielle, and yet other people
saw me as being somebody else. Thatís interesting.
it hard as a former child actress to get people to take you seriously as an
adult? Do you see casting directors who still look at you as Topanga?
Yeah, I do think that is something that is pretty difficult.
People have a tendency to get locked into something. Once they categorize
you as something, they want to hold onto that. So, yeah, breaking out of
thatÖ and I also have the downfall in this industry of looking still very,
very young, which doesnít help, either. If I looked drastically different
that I did on Boy Meets World that would potentially help. But I
donít, my face still looks exactly the same. I did change my hair
color, which Iím hoping helps. I decided to go brunette. Hopefully that
will help people think of me differently.
werenít acting, what do you think youíd be doing?
Then I would be in school or by now would have probably graduated
and Iíd be teaching.
Just a decade
ago sitcoms like yours were huge. Nowadays the art form seems to have been
pretty much left behind for reality TV. As an actress, does that limit your
Absolutely. I mean as an actress you either need to broaden the
scope of things youíre willing to do and open that door into possibly doing
reality TV, or you need to move entirely into film Ė which is difficult for
me, because I absolutely love doing sitcoms. I hope that someday the sitcom
craze will come back. Iím not a fan of reality TV. (laughs) Iím
actually ready for that to be over. I do hope that [sitcoms come back] at
some point in time, especially family comediesÖ I think weíre really lacking
for those on TV these days.
On the other
hand, many older series like
Boy Meets World are now released on DVD. How nice is it
that all your old work is coming back and so easy to get ahold of? Do you
ever watch any of the old shows?
I do. I mean I donít have it set on my TiVo, because Iíve seen
them all, obviously. But if I happen to be flipping through the channels or
itís late at night and Iím looking for something to watch, I will always go
and check the Disney Channel to see if itís on. I know itís on several
times a day. Especially the older ones, when I was a kid. Itís kind of
like popping in an old home movie for me. So I do enjoy watching it when
they come on.
Boy Meets World, you have done some straight-to-video
movies Ė like Gamebox 1.0 and the Dorm Daze movies. How
different is it working on films than on TV?
You know, itís less stress I guess considering the amount of time,
but when weíve done these independent movies Ė the Dorm Daze and
Gamebox Ė we filmed them all within three weeks or a month, working
about sixteen to eighteen hours a day. So there is a lot of stress while
putting them together. And, you know, it feels kind of chopped up, because
when youíre filming a movie you certainly donít film it in the proper order
that youíre filming. So you always feel like you are portraying pieces of
the character. You donít feel like youíre really feel like you get to feel
the full scope of the character at any one time. So thatís a little bit
different. Especially doing Gamebox in front of a green screen.
That was an entirely different experience.
Yeah, I was
just going to say,
Gamebox 1.0 must have been weird to film, because the great
majority of your scenes were in a computer animated world. Did you have to
do the whole thing on green screen and just imagine what was going on and
how hard was that to do?
Yeah, we did basically. You just do the entire thing on a green
screen. It was definitely a little bit more difficult to have to use my
imagination so much. I donít really consider myself to be a very
imaginative person, so I really had to really rely on the other actors and
to rely on my directors to let me know what exactly was going on so that I
could picture it with every emotion. That coupled with the fact that
playing a video game character Ė you know, video game characters donít have
many facial expressions. I act a lot with my facial
expressions. I had to this time get everything, all the emotions through
with just my eyes. So that was also a challenge.
You were also
essentially playing two separate characters Ė the girlfriend Kate in
flashbacks and the computer character Princess. How interesting was it to
be able to put a slightly different stamp on both Ė but still having to have
a basic similarity?
Yeah, that was really interesting for me. It was definitely a fun
challenge. I really liked being able to after weeks of playing Princess
being able to do the small amount of scenes I have as Kate, because I felt I
could use my face again. (laughs) You know, when youíre a real
person, I could actually smile big and just use my face, which made Kate
seem real fun. There is a lot less of Kate in the movie than there is of
it a coincidence that you and Nate Ė who were both love interests in TGIF
shows Ė were cast together? Did you know him from the old days?
Yes, I had met Nate from years before when we would do different
ABC events and things. I had known him before, but we certainly werenít
friends or anything. We were acquaintances. And, yeah, I donít know if
that was a casting choice that they made purposely. I know they had worked
with Nate before on some films and knew that he was a very professional,
hard-working actor. They had worked with me before as well and I believe
they felt the same way about me. Itís important, especially
when youíre doing a movie that is going to be entirely green screen, youíd
better be working with people that you like, because, you donít have a lot
of other distractions.
Gamebox 1.0 was actually filmed a few years ago. How does it
feel now that it is finally coming out?
Well, Iím just so happy to see the final result. Starting from
three years ago when we did the movie, we had no idea what the final outcome
was going to be. Weíve only been able to get bits and pieces up until this
point. So, thinking about it and working on it and imagining what it was
going to turn out like, it really has lived up to all of our expectations.
Gamebox is essentially about the danger of people living in a
fantasy world and refusing to face reality. How did that theme resonate for
It definitely resonates with me. Iím always saying to
people in different situations, you just canít look at it that way. This is
difficult, especially nowadays, where life is just really harder Ė
especially for kids Ė than it was way back even when I was a kid, or when my
parents were kids. Life continues to get harder. You canít just drown
yourself in a video game or continue to go see movies or watch TV or do
whatever you want to escape all the time. I think thatís why nowadays there
are so many more kids who are taking pills and self-medicating, because they
are just trying to escape reality. Itís kind of a sad state.
had mostly done comic roles in the past, but
Gamebox is pretty dramatic. Do you prefer
doing comedy or drama? Which is harder for you?
Oh, gosh, I really canít say I have a preference of either one.
When I first started acting, I considered myself a more dramatic actress.
Comedy was not something that came so easily to me. But then, after a small
amount of time being on Boy Meets World and learning things from my
other comedic actors and learning things from the executive producers and
producers I had on that show, comedy now just comes so easily to me. So, I
really canít say that I have a preference. I really enjoy them both. I
would say I think comedy does come easier to me now.
I saw an old
quote from you on the internet which said you donít drink, you donít smoke,
you donít do drugs. You Shop. Still true?
Well, you know, that was taken twelve years ago. I was fourteen at
figured it was probably pretty old. I have to admit most of the stuff I
found about you on the internet seemed kind of outdated. Stuff like
favorite bands Ė Counting Crows and the Cardigans....
I know! Iím like, oh my gosh! Does nobody update anything? Itís
so weird. People bring that quote up to me all the time and will use
it against me.
Iím sorry; I
didnít mean it that wayÖ
By no means do I have a drinking problem. Yes, I do
drink. I especially love a glass of red wine with Italian food. I actually
did smoke for a long time, but I quit about five-and-a-half months ago. I
certainly do not do drugs. Have never done drugs. So, thatís something I
did stick with. (laughs) And I still do shop. Absolutely!
been working as a special correspondent on
The Tyra Banks Show. Youíve also done a
show for sports radio. What are those like? Do you enjoy getting into a
totally different part of show biz?
I am, absolutely. Especially, like we were talking about before,
with there being so much reality TV out there, you know with the things I
like to do Ė there are just really not that many options out there. So, I
had to kind of branch out and figure out other things I love. One of my
major passions was sports Ė still is sports Ė so I had that opportunity to
work for the cable radio network. I hosted a sports show for them for quite
a while. Then my schedule kind of got out of control and I had to stop
doing that. Being a correspondent for The Tyra Banks Show has been
amazing. I really admire her and respect her and she works with such an
amazing group of people. Thatís been a really fun experience for me. Itís
entirely new, being a correspondent. Iíve always loved the idea of talk
shows. Iím able to be myself, instead of being a character. Sheís really
given me a wonderful opportunity to be a part of her family there.
would people be surprised to know about you?
I donít know. I
think that people would probably be surprised to know that Iím really a very
huge homebody. I have a very small amount of friends. I maybe have five
friends, literally. Iím not close to anybody else in the entertainment
industry. I donít even live in LA. I completely avoid that entire
celebrity scene. I think that surprises most people. I think people think
I live this really glamorous life, but I basically run around in my sweats
and cook dinner and run errands and clean my house. (laughs) Thatís
the extent of my life.
would you like for people to see your career?
I donít know. I really donít feel like Iíve created too much of a
career up to this point. I think Boy Meets World was amazing and by
far the staple of my career. Iíd like to think Iím going to have several
more staples that Iím in the process of creating. So, I donít know. Maybe
in thirty years ask me how Iíd like for people to perceive my career.
Are there any
misconceptions youíd like to clear up?
Well, for one, the "I donít drink, I donít smoke, I donít do drugs,
I shop." I think a lot of the things that people think about me are things
that people heard me say when I was a very early teenager. So if anything,
Iíd just like people to realize that people grow up and people change. You
evolve as a person.
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