“The secret to life is people change people. Your whole life is determined by the people who surround you, and how they guide you is what affects you, and it shouldn’t, but it does. That’s where your happiness comes from, that’s where your love and strength comes from.” Making up one half of television’s favorite sitcom couple in the 1990s, Ben Savage may have gotten his start as an actor at eight years old but he didn’t find mainstream success until his teens when he starred as Cory Matthews, a love-struck teen fighting for Topanga’s attention on Boy Meets World. Starring on the show for seven seasons from 1993 to 2000, Savage continued to act over the next decade but received the ultimate compliment in 2014 when the Disney Channel invited him to reprise his role in their spinoff series, Girl Meets World. Reuniting with Topanga and the rest of the cast for three seasons, Savage wrapped up the show in 2017, which leaves us to wonder what’s next for the 37-year-old star!
The youngest of three children born to a real estate broker and a consultant, Bennett Joseph Savage came into this world on September 13, 1980 in Chicago, Illinois. With his older brother, Fred, finding fame on The Wonder Years, and his older sister exploring her talents as an actress and musician, it wasn’t long before Savage followed his siblings into the business and made his television debut with a recurring role as Matthew Lacey in Dear John in 1988. A year later, he joined his brother in the feature film Little Monsters and had a cameo in The Wonder Years in 1990 before snagging a starring role as Chris Bankston in A Family for Joe.
Adding in appearances in Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even, Clifford and Wild Palms, Savage’s career took an incredible turn in 1993 when he landed what would become the iconic role of his career. Cast as Cory Matthews in Boy Meets World, Savage’s performance on the series won over the hearts of the audience as his genuine love for Topanga, played by Danielle Fishel, unfolded and his character evolved into a grumpy old man fans couldn't help but love.
“He just kind of became an old man,” Savage said of Cory’s progression on the show from 1993 to 2000. “I think Cory was just always sort of a grumpy old man, in a loveable way. It was always kind of in there, and got solidified with time. He liked what he liked. He liked to wear his sweaters and he liked the same routine and he liked cupcakes and cake and sitting at home with his wife. He’s the kind of guy you grew up with who always knew what he wanted and that’s who he was, and he never had to go through some exploratory phase where he had to date a bunch of girls or go out a lot. I think he was just the type of personality that settled from childhood, and that suited him just fine.”
It suited audiences as well with Boy Meets World earning Savage four Young Artist Award and Young Star Award nominations as well as a Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Award in 2000. Wrapping up the show after seven seasons in 2000, Savage spent a few years in and out of the spotlight as he studied political science at Stanford University and interned with the United States Senate. He made sporadic appearances on television with credits in Still Standing, Phil of the Future, Without a Trace, Shake It Up and Bones before the Disney Channel came calling and invited him to reprise his role as Matthews alongside Fishel in the spinoff, Girl Meets World. “I think it was mostly that we had all moved onto other projects and were living our lives, and this opportunity came up and we all discussed it at length, especially Danielle and I,” Savage said. “We just decided, let’s pull the trigger and see what happens.”
With a positive response from fans, Girl Meets World continued Cory and Topanga’s story as they navigated parenthood alongside a slew of characters from their past. “I’m so protective of the Boy Meets World legacy,” he says. “I’m a creature of habit, and superstitious. I even listen to the same music every day that I listened to then… So, the two people that I said I wanted back on the show were the original studio teacher who taught Boy Meets World… and then our script supervisor, Kathy Giangregorio… I was like, ‘I want to look out and see Kathy, just like we did on Boy Meets World. It’s the most calming presence in the world.’ And then it’s all four of our old writers, it’s all of our old producers. It’s this incredibly surreal, nostalgic feeling.”
The nostalgia lasted three seasons with Savage earning nominations at the Teen Choice Awards and the Kids’ Choice Awards as he reunited with Rider Strong, Will Friedle and a host of other Boy Meets World cast members before the final episode of Girl Meets World aired in January 2017. This time around, however, the 37-year-old Savage was old enough to appreciate what the series meant for audiences and his career. “The significance of what we were doing didn’t totally register just because I was a kid. That’s just what I knew,” he said of Boy Meets World. “As an adult, you come back to it and you see how much the show meant to people and you see that it had an impact on people’s lives.”
Although Girl Meets World might be over, Savage has high hopes for the future and has obviously found his niche working in children’s television even if it means he’ll always be remembered as Cory Matthews, a cake-eating, board game-playing teen in love with his childhood sweetheart, Topanga. “I definitely want to continue directing, I want to continue producing,” he says. “I really do like working in the vehicle of kid’s television because there was a phase of sitcom TV which was just snark. And I hate snark. It doesn’t inspire people. I want to make TV that makes people laugh. Networks were trying to be edgy and it wasn’t good. It didn’t work. People—networks and everyone—have to just accept themselves for who they are, and then they can be great.” If anyone can help make television great again, Savage just might be the ticket!