I’m Rider Strong. I’m in a new movie with John Hawkes called TOO LATE. Ask me anything.
I know most of you are here for Boy/Girl Meets World, and I promise not to shortchange you on that, but please indulge my excitement for my new movie TOO LATE, which is out on VOD right now: https://itun.es/us/msM4db
This is an incredibly unique and personal film made by people I am proud to call my friends. We shot on film, released to theaters on film, and captured what I’m pretty sure are the longest 35mm takes in cinema history. I’m exceedingly proud to be a part of it.
Ask me anything.
EDIT: Thanks so much for stopping by, everybody. This was cool. I'm sorry I'm not the fastest typist in the world, but hopefully you got some answers. It's been an honor to be part of Girl Meets World, and I hope you guys have enjoyed our run (let Disney know you don't want it to end!). We'll be revamping my podcast Literay Disco, so check back in with us soon. In the meantime, go rent Too Late and then drop me a line on Twitter and let me know what you thought. Hope to hear from you soon.
I've never thought about that. But it probably happens a lot, and they just don't say anything. Wow.
Thanks for the new anxiety.
Hi Mr. Strong. Thank you for your time. My name is Ryan Kleinfeldt. I'm 32. I live in Lodi, California. I'm mildly Autistic. Firstly I wanted to thank you for helping me through my childhood. TV was my escape from the bullying. My question... Are you more likely to be friendly and welcome to conversation with fans who mention something you've done outside of Boy or Girl Meets World?
Hi Ryan. What an interesting question. The answer is "Yes," and I recognize that that's an odd position to take. But I think whenever you're known for one thing, it just simply gets boring to talk about. I guess we all think of ourselves as whole people full of contradictions and weird interests and complete lives...and being reduced in any way feels pretty crappy. If I take the long view, being known for something that has made millions of people laugh, or made their lives better in ANY way, is a wholly positive thing. And getting older, I'm trying to get better at simply being grateful. So. Thank you. I'm really glad the show helped you.
I'm so excited for this AMA. I have a few questions.
Is there any difference for the actors when shooting on film vs. shooting digital?
As a boy meets world fan, I've loved watching girl meets world. What would you say to a BMW fan who is hesitant to watch GMW?
This season, Shawn has finally turned around his fortunes. What are the challenges with taking a character who has had terrible circumstances for so long and going through that evolution?
There's a huge difference. Shooting digital means you can just keep doing take after take without any economic downside. So it's really great for situations where you want to try different things -- like comedy. But shooting on film increases pressure on everybody, actors AND crew. I prefer that, because everyone has to bring their A-game. Too Late is a film that takes this to an extreme.
Get over the fact that its on "Disney Channel" and watch it.
Playing a character with terrible circumstances is actually the best for an actor -- I got to stretch way more than most sitcom actors. I mean, my mom abandoned me, my dad died, my girlfriend moved away, I became an alcoholic, I joined a cult...OK, those last two might have been a bit much. Playing happy Shawn turned out to be kinda boring. Except I love working with Cheryl.
What was your favorite BMW storyline and why?
When you start making a TV show, you don't always know where the most energy is going to come from. When we made Cory's Alternative Friends we all discovered the heart and soul of the show.
Do you ever wish that that Doors song Riders on the Storm was called Rider's on the Strong?
I can't tell you how many people think my last name is Storm. I'm not sure it's even a conscious thing. I'll introduce myself and then a few minutes later they'll say "Mr Storm." I don't even bother correcting them.
Where there any cast members that didn't get along on the BMW set?
This is an honest answer: No. We were really lucky.
I got into film school and I'm really nervous but excited you are one of my favourite directors :) I loved dungeon master and Irish twins you and your brother are so talented. Any advice for aspiring filmmakers/directors?
Don't skimp on sound. It's the least sexy but most important part of filmmaking. You can usually get every other department for free/as a favor, but pay for your sound. It's worth it.
Also. Thank you so much!
I loved the pillow fight in girl meets i do between you and ben. I also thought it was funny at the end when you said screw it. was that scene improvised?
Did I really say "Screw it?" And Disney aired it? That's awesome!
Yeah, it was total improv.
Does Fred Savage have a dark side?
If the lighting is right.
(No. Very cool & smart & normal dude)
For you personally what was the biggest challenge with your role in Too Late? What is your next project outside of Girl Meets World? If you could work with any actor who would it be and why?
The challenge of Too Late was the long takes. We knew that if we blew a line or missed our mark, we'd be letting everyone down...especially when it got down to the last few minutes of a 22 minute scene. So the pressure would build and build and you'd have to not let it get to you.
There are a few projects in the works right now (writing/directing) but none that I can tell you about just yet. Acting wise, I'm trying to stay retired. Except for VO work -- I've been doing a voice on Star Vs. Forces of Evil and that has been super cool. That show is bananas.
There are so many actors I want to work with. I recently saw an incredible play with Rob Nagle and he was GENIUS. He's somebody that has spent his whole life acting and yet, goes completely under the radar.
Famous person? Sam Rockwell. I'll work with him someday.
do you prefer acting or directing?
Writing and directing is much more satisfying to me right now. I still enjoy acting, but the context has to be right. The truth is, unless you’re doing theater, you don’t have a lot of control over the finished product. For instance, you could go on an audition to be the “sly best friend” and wind up playing that character for 7 years, and then STILL playing that character when you’re 35 years old. And that’s the best case scenario.
- As far as the young GMW actors go, who do you think is the most similar to you at that age and why?
- In your opinion, who do you think was the most underused BMW character and why?
- When will Too Late be available in the UK?
What a good question. These kids live in a different world. They are WAY more media savvy than Ben, Danielle or Will and I ever were. I think in terms of the acting, Sabrina and I are the most similar. But as a person, Amir reminds me the most of myself.
Ethan Suplee is such a brilliant actor. We could've done more. But really, Mr Turner got screwed. We left him in a coma for Christ's sake!
Too Late is already in the UK! I'll find a link
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Too-Late-John-Hawkes/dp/B01J2BPLRE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471641057&sr=8-1&keywords=too+late+movie
Rider might have something that's better for the filmmakers, but that's all I could find right now.
Jerry Hall was your Mrs. Robinson? Did you stay in touch? How was your chemistry?
Jerry Hall was a trip to work with. Very smart and funny. She’s a class act. I ended up doing The Graduate with her twice. Once when I was 23 and then again when I was 30. It’s quite a bonding experience to strip down to your underwear on stage and simulate sex 8 times a week with someone. We laughed a lot. As a wrap gift, she gave me a packet of underwear and a book called “Tips on Lovemaking.” It was crazy to be having a normal night out with someone and then you order a bourbon and she casually mentions “That’s Keith Richards favorite, too…” She told me to come to dinner at her house whenever I’m in London. I should probably take her up on that.
Your wife was a producer on Too Late. How much of a role did that mean you had in the production of the film beyond the two scenes you were in?
Too Late took over our lives for a while. This film was particularly challenging from a producer's POV, so she needed to talk about it often. Making dinner while discussing casting. Hearing about the problems with the lenses while brushing our teeth... It got to the point where we had to say "No Too Late talk tonight." But honestly, I LOVED it. Making a movie is incredibly difficult, and it's all about coming up with creative solutions to a myriad of problems -- so getting to be a part of that from the sidelines was a great education. Also, my wife and I met on a TV series, and we're both geeks about this industry. I mean, if we weren't talking about Too Late, we'd be talking about the script I'm writing, or the way they pulled off a shot in the new show we've been watching, or how somebody should adapt this book I'm reading... We both live for telling stories in this medium, and I'm really glad I'm not married to somebody who would just roll their eyes every time I talked about filmmaking.
Hi Rider! My name is Rachel, but most of my friends call me Q. I'm 20 years old and a going-to-be college junior. I have a few questions for you. Feel free to pick and choose what you answer. You're amazing!
What was your favorite episode of BMW (besides the Scream episode)?
What was your favorite episode of GMW (whether you were in/ directed it or not)?
My favorite episode of either shows is Cult Fiction. What was it like filming that episode?
What made you decide to come back in GMW?
What was it like playing a character like Shawn in your formative years? Did his views of the world effect yours at all?
Chick Like Me is a pretty perfect script.
Girl Meets 1961 will always hold a special place in my heart.
Very emotional. I remember they wrote the monologue over Turner's bed at the last minute and it was essentially a cold reading.
They agreed to let me and my brother direct.
It was great to play a sad, messed up kid! So much drama! No, if anything it was the other way around: the writers took aspects of me and my life and inserted them into Shawn.
Essentially growing up on a set, living as a teen heart throb, now acting and directing; nobody can deny you had a fairly unusual adolescence. You're a fantastic director and actor. And basically my only question is this: Are you happy?
I DID have an unusual adolescence. And at the time, I wasn't happy about it. I liked acting but I didn't like fame -- or at least, the kind of "teen beat" fame I had.
But now I recognize the INSANELY privileged life I had. I am so thankful.
Getting older, I'm becoming more aware that being an artist of any type means never being completely satisfied. I often wonder this same thing about people who's careers I follow. Tom Waits is my favorite songwriter, but what's his day to day life like? I love Meryl Streep but doesn't it get exhausting to be her? Is PT Anderson content?
Here’s where my life is at right now: my brother and I are juggling writing two scripts. Every job we get is fantastic, but it always ends, and we’re back to square one trying to get another one. We have sold TV shows that have never been shot, we’ve written big movies that have never been made. We STILL haven’t written and directed our feature film even though we’ve been in this industry for 25 years. We’d love more stability and more creative freedom. He and I get together 9 to 5 and lock ourselves in a room and stress, argue, laugh, cry and yes, sometimes get some actual writing done. My son is in the next room and all I want to do is go tickle him and play with him and teach him more words (he’s only 19 months). Every day it’s a struggle to get anything done, every day it sucks and we ask ourselves are we wasting our time. But then, everyday, there’s a break-thru or two. And pure joy fills our hearts and we look at each other and say something to the effect of, “We’re getting paid to sit here and make stuff up together, just like we used to do when we were 5 and 7 years old. Holy shit, life is good.”
So...I think "happy" as an emotional state is overrated. But yeah, mostly I’m really, really happy. And that has very little to do with the “accomplishments” and everything to do with the people in my life.
Hey Rider! If you could play any of the non-adult characters on Girl Meets World, who would it be and why?
Zay. Just so I could be as funny and cool as Amir. He's the best.
I remember you had a brief stint on Party of Five as an early love interest for Lacey Chabert's Claudia! I was just wondering what your experience was like working on the show, and how it compared to being on the set of Boy Meets World?
Well, so Party of Five was a single camera show. The entire process is different. It's like making a movie: you start your day with one scene, rehearse a few times, figure out where the camera will go first and then you shoot it, piece by piece.
Whereas with a multi-camera show like BMW/GMW we spend three days rehearsing and rewriting. It's like putting on a play. And then the 4th day they bring in cameras and you rehearse with them so the camera operators know where to point the lens at which line. And then finally on day 5 you do the whole thing, in order, in front of an audience.
Bottom line: multi cam is WAY more fun. But when you watch it, it ends up having more of a "false" feel to it. It's a very specific style, one that we've broadly moved away from as a culture.
Hi Rider, I found you through Literary Disco. On that podcast you frequently offer some sharp and occasionally snarky literary criticism. However unlike your two co-hosts you've worked as an actor where you're at the mercy of other people's scripts. My question is, does having the mind for that sort of thing affect your mindset working as an actor? For examples, would you have to suppress the urge to point out plotholes to the writer during a film production?
Cool line of thought. Yeah, there is a degree to which being a "thinking actor" can be a detriment. Acting has some intuitive energy to it -- like dancing or singing. You're not a better dancer if you can write an essay about how this particular choreography reflects Post-War struggles in a blah blah blah...shut up and dance! Recognizing that you are "in your head" is death for an actor. This is part of the reason I've moved away from it. I LIKE thinking critically, finding those plot holes/thinking thematically. And yes, it got harder and harder for me to keep my mouth shut, which is why I started directing. I found myself on film sets thinking, "They shouldn't be doing it this way" but utterly powerless to change it.
Interestingly, if you look at the dialogue in BMW/GMW, it is strangely intellectual and expositional. Michael Jacobs doesn't write naturalistic dialogue -- he prefers to explore thematics explicitly, punctuated by very sharp and clever jokes. And so I think at a young age, my acting naturally blended with his style of writing.
But I've drastically changed my approach to acting. Even though I'm not that interested in doing it any more, I think I've only recently figured it out.
What's the secret behind your killer beard?
Laziness = not shaving.
In your industry, what's more important than who you know?
Nothing. But I think it's the same in EVERY business, isn't it?
Any memories of Julie Andrews? How was Blake Edwards as a director? Did you learn anything from him, though you were so young at the time?
Isn't it strange to think that, at the time, "Julie" was poised to be a huge hit TV show? When I got that job it was like I had found a Golden Ticket -- working with Mary Poppins! Blake Edwards is a legend!
And then the whole thing was a disaster. Julie was wonderful, and so kind and giving, but Blake was grumpy. He never took his sunglasses off. He rarely stood up from his chair. He had never directed TV before and didn't quite understand the process. So he would come up with a "bit" and rewrite the entire script to make it make sense. By the time we had taken 15 weeks to shoot 6 episodes (that's more than twice as long as it should have taken) ABC was over the show and they dumped it onto the air over the summer.
And so when I booked my next job, on the "Untitled Ben Savage" show, I shrugged and thought...whatever. Maybe this one will last a season.
Hey Rider! Hope you're having a great afternoon.
What is your fondest memory from your many days on the BMW and GMW sets?
If you weren't an actor/director, what career would you have gone into?
On GMW, your character recently got married - the ship is known as 'Shaty'. How do you feel about ships of other characters? Any personal thoughts on Rucas, Riarkle, Lucaya, etc..?
Too many to name. Recently, directing the James Bond opening credit sequence with Sabrina and Peyton was so much fun. There really wasn't anything on the page, and my brother and I (bad dancers) had to suddenly choreograph. So the four of us grabbed a water gun and we're like...how do we make this funny? The two of them are such pros, and willing to try anything. And then we went to shoot it and Sabrina sang it full voiced for the first time and my brother and I were blown away. Here we had been only thinking of it as this ridiculous little sequence, but she's so damn talented, she couldn't help but make the song impressive, too. In that same episode, working with Rowan on her "soap opera" fantasy stuff, she was hysterical. Especially her "death" scene. We never stopped laughing.
If you take away writing too, I would've been a lawyer. I still kind of want to be a lawyer.
Shaty? Really? That's horrible. It's sounds like you're describing something as shitty in past tense. No, no personal thoughts on the "ships" -- I don't really think that's what the show is about. I just like watching those actors interact, in any combination.
RIDER!!! Huge fan!! In your opinion, who would win in a four-way fight.....Shawn, Harley, Griff or Mr. Turner? Prison rules applied.
Turner. Dude is STRONG.
Have you kept in touch with Steve Hofstetter? Did he get heckled a lot when you were in school together?
I have. He did not. And I went to his very first 5 minute stand up set. He got solid laughs throughout.
What is the most overrated book you just don't see why people respect it so much?
Oh, there are so many. Pillars of the Earth. Twilight. Fault in our Stars.
I even, sorry world, think Harry Potter is just OK.
If you haven't listened to Literary Disco, we've covered a lot of this. Beyond bad writing, Sweet Valley High is a particularly reprehensible series.
When you meet people who aren't familiar with your work and you tell them that you're an actor and that your name is Rider Strong, how often do they automatically assume that you're in porn?
View HistoryShare Link