SEE ALSO: Celebs go back to school
Meets College -- next year
By Sara Lyle
Ben Savage, star of "Boy Meets World," has chosen for a second year to defer admission to Stanford University. It doesnât seem to have diminished his enthusiasm for the college experience, though. Among other things, the 18-year-old actor talked to CPNet.com about what it has been like to live it vicariously through his TV character, Corey, who is beginning his sophomore year this fall.
Interviewer: I read on the "Boy Meets World" Web site that you were accepted to the college of your choice -- it didn't say which one -- but you chose to defer admission while you were still starring in the show. ... Are you still planning to postpone?
Ben Savage: I'm still planning on postponing. I was accepted at Stanford University ... and I think throughout my entire high school career all I wanted was to go to Stanford. It was really important to me personally that I go there. So, you know, it was a little difficult, but "Boy Meets World" had been continuing since I was in eighth grade all the way through the time when I was a senior in high school. We all assumed that when I graduated high school, my senior year, "Boy Meets World" would have just ended. None of us expected the show to be renewed for another year, but it was. As much as I really wanted to go to Stanford, it was very difficult to walk away from "Boy Meets World" -- to walk away from something that I'd spent the past five years of my life on, something that I really enjoyed. I really had to make a decision between my acting career and my emotional, intellectual career, I guess. So I just decided -- you know, I checked with a lot of people I'm close with -- that it would be best to put off Stanford. Fortunately, Stanford was very helpful and they were willing to let me defer.
Interviewer: Now, Stanford is where your brother Fred went as well.
Interviewer: Was that part of the reason why you were so tied to going there?
BS: Yeah, that's pretty much the reason. I had a bit of a tough time in high school, because I was always working. So I never really had time to make any long-lasting friendships because I was always busy. I remember in ninth grade, I went to visit my brother at Stanford, and I just remember having the time of my life. I mean, I went to a fraternity party and then a football game. Then I went to the student bookstore, and he bought me tons of Stanford shirts. I slept in the dorms, and I just remember having the time of my life. And I said to myself, "These are the kind of people that I want to be around." Because I just didn't feel close with any of the kids I went to high school (with). I shouldn't say "any" -- I didn't feel close with a lot of kids I went to high school with -- because I did make some very good friends. I said, "These are the kind of people I want to be around." I remember, I bought the Stanford band CD, which is this really, like, eccentric, crazy band that plays at the football games. I remember, when I got home that weekend, I had to write a paper or something. So I was writing a paper, and I put that CD on. And it I was like, "I've got to get into Stanford! I've got to get into Stanford!" So, from then on, whenever I would write a paper, I would put that on, to get me back on track.
Interviewer: Sounds like a good plan. So, since you're not going to school this fall ... when do you think you're going to make this transition from "Boy Meets World" to college?
BS: I just deferred this past year, and it was a pretty difficult year. I guess because I'm not used to the monotony of just having one job. So I'm used to dealing with school as well as the demands of being on the show. So I guess I felt somewhat unchallenged by just having to do the show, but at the same time, it was sort of nice just being able to focus on one craft. And then, amazingly, "Boy Meets World" got picked up once again. Again, I wrote to Stanford and explained my situation, and again they were very cooperative. So I assume this year is, probably, being the last year of "Boy Meets World," although you never know. I'll probably go (to college) next fall.
Interviewer: OK ...
BS: But I do have a pretty good point to make.
Interviewer: Which is?
BS: The reason that I was even willing to defer from Stanford, was because if I were going to college to become a doctor or a lawyer, it would be different. But I know what I want to do with my life -- I want to be an actor. And college, for me, always represented just a place where I would have a wonderful experience for four years. I would meet new people, have new experiences. I would, you know, just be enlightened. It was never really about becoming some big thing. So that's why I was sort of willing to put it on hold.
Interviewer: Right. Now, you say you want to be an actor when you grow up, but I read that you plan to major in English and possibly study creative writing.
Interviewer: So, you're not planning on taking any acting classes or anything like that while you're there?
BS: No, I think if I'm going to be at college I sort of want to distance myself from that. I mean, that's not really final. Who knows? But as far as I can see.
Interviewer: I'd just heard that a couple of other young actors had been taking acting classes while they were at college, and I was just wondering if that's daunting for the acting coach and for the actors themselves.
BS: Well, I certainly wouldn't want to come in there with this air that I'm like superior to everyone else. But, I just think I would sort of want to be away from that for a while.
Interviewer: Now, Corey, the character that you play on Boy Meets World ...
BS: (Jokingly) That's his name?
Interviewer: Yes. (Laughing.) ... OK, anyway. Corey, the character you play, and his friends are heading off to college this upcoming fall, right?
BS: They're going to be sophomores this year. They were freshmen last year.
Interviewer: Was it weird living the going-to-school process vicariously before you'd actually done it?
BS: No, it was kind of fun. I got to sort of get a little preview of what I'm going to be doing next fall. We had a lot of fun with the fact that our characters were in college. I mean, Ben is just like Corey -- literally, everything about him. We're both very neurotic, eccentric, crazy, fun, excitable people. So we would have pretty cool episodes about the fun stuff that goes on at college. I got to, like you said, live vicariously through my character. So it was nice.
Interviewer: Could you tell me a little about the plot line for the upcoming season, or is it completely under wraps?
BS: I could, if I knew. Our show is very secretive. We usually don't decide what we're going to do until way down the line, but I imagine it's just going to be another year of us in college. We'll have to see what happens.
Interviewer: Now, you said that the fact that Fred went to Stanford affected your decision to want to go there. How has watching your older brother's career helped you or made you figure out what to do or what not to do? Or has it been your decisions?
BS: It's never really been a focal point for me. You know, "This is what I want to do. This is what I shouldn't do." It's more been, "he got started, I got started, and we've both done our different things." We've each had our different ups and downs.
Interviewer: Do you get annoyed when people ask you about Fred all the time?
BS: No. ... I don't mind at all, because I'm sure it's the same with people asking him about me. ... I don't think it's an annoyance.
Interviewer: Does (your) family still live together in California?
BS: My older brother doesn't. My older sister goes to college. But I, until I go to college, am living in the family guesthouse.
Interviewer: Got it. And you were originally from Chicago. Is that right?
Interviewer: You seem very polite. I was very impressed with the voice-mail message that you left. I was wondering how have you managed to beat this whole stereotype of being the spoiled, troubled child celebrity? That seemed to be the whole buzz in the industry for a while.
BS: I don't know. I think it was the fact that my parents raised me with the mentality that "This isn't going to last. So enjoy it while you can, but don't let it get to your head, because there's no reason. Today you could be the biggest thing in the world and in six months, no one knows your name." Obviously, we've seen that happen with thousands and thousands of people. I mean, I wish I was strong enough to have a big head, but it's definitely not something that I would want, because I know that this doesn't last. I was always raised with the mentality that "You don't need to have a big head." Because I don't think it gets you anywhere. I was always raised, you know, as "I'm just a normal kid." And again, "Boy Meets World" wasn't the biggest show in the world. It wasn't like "Seinfeld." That might have had something to do with it. But I was always very humbled in interviews and stuff.
Interviewer: Is that why, because you use the word "amazingly" and you put quite an emphasis on it, when you were talking about "amazingly, 'Boy Meets World' was picked up for another year"? Is that why or you just think that it's time for the characters to move on?
BS: It was always just a matter of "This is going to be our last year. No, this is going to be our last year." And we never knew when to expect the last year to come. I mean, our ratings have progressively gotten lower and lower, but to tell you the truth, I think that all of television's ratings have gotten lower as a whole. Because of new cable networks and stuff like that. So it's hard, but we've never really been sure. And that's another thing, you're never sure. There are no guarantees in Hollywood. So I guess that's another thing that's kept me humble.
Interviewer: Now that (the characters) are sophomores does it kind of seems 90210-esque?
BS: Yeah, or like "Saved by the Bell College Years"? (Laughing.) Yeah, we've all seen those mistakes. No, I shouldn't say 'mistakes.' But the point I'm trying to say is, we don't want to be that cheesy type of show. If anything, we make fun of the fact that we are. You know, I think all of the writers, the executive producer, and all the cast, I think we're all pretty grounded in reality. We know what to look out for. Obviously, if anything is ever ... you know, that was a good thing, I went to a normal high school here in Los Angeles the entire time I was doing "Boy Meets World." So I was never sort of outdated with the new fashions or the new lingo or anything. I knew if anything seemed too cheesy, I would know because I had first-hand experience with it. So we were always very careful about making things too cheesy. If anything was, we'd make fun of ourselves.
(Ben has another call.)
Interviewer: So, you said you had some friends at the high school but that you'd been pretty much a workaholic (otherwise)? Is there anything you're really going to miss when you go off to college or are you completely gung-ho when the year comes when you get to go to Stanford?
BS: I think I'll miss certain people. Obviously, I'm going to miss "Boy Meets World" when it's over. It's been a big part of my life. I've been doing it since I was 11, you know. I've been doing it for more than a third of my life, so I'll miss that. I'll definitely miss people, but at the same time I'm excited about getting into new experiences and stuff.
Interviewer: I imagine people probably think they know you pretty well, since they've seen you grow up through television.
BS: Yeah, a lot of people do. They come up to me and feel like they know me. I think that's great.
Interviewer: So you probably have a lot of friends that you don't even know about.
BS: Yeah! (Laughing.)
Interviewer: What do you look forward to doing most in the next five years, meaning after college and after "Boy Meets World"?
BS: Getting married.
Interviewer: Do you have a girlfriend?
Interviewer: You do? Who is it, can I ask?
BS: Oh, I don't think you know her.
BS: No celebs.
Interviewer: That's OK. I'm being nosey. Is it someone ...
BS: No, she's just a, a girl.
Interviewer: I'm sure she'll love that.
BS: Well, I don't think you should write, "She's just a girl." She's someone I've known very well for the past couple of years. But, um, I don't know about us getting married, but just the prospect of getting married is nice. But also, you know getting back to acting and hopefully something going very well with my acting career.
Interviewer: I read somewhere that you said you want to eventually write screenplays? Is that still true?
BS: It was at one point, but I don't know. That may be something I want to do on down the line. For now, I'm just happy acting.
Interviewer: And is there anything you'd like to add about going to college eventually or your experiences that you think college students would be interested in?
BS: About the prospect of going to college?
Interviewer: Sure. ... I was kind of curious about the difference between getting ready to go to school if youâre a celebrity vs. getting ready to go to school if youâre ...
BS: There isnât. I think everyone starting college is equally as nervous, but at the same time, equally as excited. For my Stanford application, we were asked to write a letter to our future roommate as an essay question. I just wrote about how excited I was to have a roommate to share all of these experiences with. You know, stay up all hours of the night talking and go to parties and football games together. Just, you know, do all of these fun activities together.
Interviewer: Well, I hope it lives up to your expectations.
BS: Well, thank you very much.
Interviewer: It was wonderful talking to you.
BS: It was nice talking to you, too.