In Transformers: Prime’s three seasons, brash Autobot scout Bumblebee has never spoken a word – thanks to a nasty encounter with Megatron that left him without a voice box.
But as fans learned last weekend at Comic-Con, Bumblebee will finally get a chance to speak his mind in the cartoon’s upcoming series finale. And as a bonus, it turns out that the Transformer sounds a whole lot like Will Friedle – a prolific voice actor (Batman Beyond, Thundercats, Kim Possible) who’s nevertheless best known as Eric Matthews, Cory’s cute but dim brother on Boy Meets World.
Friedle calls the Transformers: Prime gig a dream job – especially since he didn’t know he was up for this particular part. “They were saying they were auditioning for a new character – I think he was called Blue Streak or something,” the actor told EW. Friedle learned that he had actually been drafted to voice one of the franchise’s most beloved figures about a month later. He calls the realization “one of those 8-year-old moments”: “It kind of reaffirms my childhood every time I think about the character.”
And this, essentially, is why Friedle has largely ditched on-camera acting for voiceover work. “You know, I hit 30, and [live-action] just didn’t hold the same fun for me,” he explained. “Whereas every time I went in to record, it was a blast. It felt like I was a young actor again – I got the butterflies. And that feeling in voiceover has yet to go away. If anything, with the roles that I’ve done in the past couple years” – which include super figures like Deadpool, Lion-O, Green Lantern’s Prince Ragnar, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s Blue Beetle – “it’s grown.”
That said, Friedle did get a taste of the old live-action magic earlier this year – when he and his close friend Rider Strong (another BMW alum) visited the set of Disney Channel’s upcoming sequel-slash-spinoff Girl Meets World, which premieres in 2014.
The whole day, says Friedle, was “incredible” – particularly the when he and Strong reunited with 86-year-old William Daniels, who played Boy Meets World’s consummate teacher Mr. Feeny. “There was a very touching moment where he just came up and threw his arms around both Rider and myself,” Friedle recalls. Fittingly, he added, “we were sitting in the classroom set when he did it.”
Friedle may never go back to Girl Meets World’s set; as of now, he says, he’s got “no involvement with the show other than as a fan.” And frankly, Friedle wouldn’t have it any other way: “I think the new cast should have a chance to get their feet wet and learn their characters without all of us looking over their shoulders, the same way we had a chance to do that.” Plus, said Friedle, “they’ve got Ben [Savage] and Danielle [Fishel] there, who are just the perfect pied pipers for the next generation.”
If the spinoff does bring back his character at some point, though, Friedle would be pleased – and ready for pretty much anything.
“Eric could be the director of the CIA, or he could be living in an alley somewhere. You just never know with Eric,” the actor said with a laugh. “But I can tell you, whatever Eric is doing right now, he’s got a huge smile on his face.”