Will Friedle, Rider Strong on Talk With Drake Bell After Quiet on Set 5

Will Friedle and Rider Strong are detailing their first conversation with Drake Bell following the release of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV earlier this year.

The Boy Meets World alums had written letters of support for Brian Peck, a former dialogue coach, during his 2004 case, where he was ultimately convicted of sexually assaulting a Nickelodeon child star, who remained unnamed at the time. Peck spent 16 months in prison and had to register as a sex offender.

Friedle and Strong revealed in a February episode of their Pod Meets World podcast — after learning that Investigation Discovery’s docuseries was being made — that they had been close friends with Peck at the time and were asked to write character letters in his defense. Only in March, when Quiet on Set was released, did they learn that Bell was the 15-year-old assaulted by Peck.

Though Friedle was in the courtroom during Peck’s trial, he shared on Thursday‘s podcast episode that neither he nor Strong knew Bell was the victim in the case at the time.

“I’m sitting in the back of the courtroom. There’s no social media. I’m 26 years old at the time. I don’t watch Nickelodeon. I don’t know who Drake Bell is. I see a kid walk into the courtroom, and I’m like, OK, I’ve been lied to. Automatically I know this,” Friedle explained, noting that Peck told him the person was “almost 18” and that “one thing happened one time.”

Bell shared in the fifth episode of the docuseries, which was released weeks after the initial episodes, that he had worked with Friedle on Ultimate Spider-Man, 10 years after the case, and that he had “a lot of opportunity to apologize or talk about it” but never did. However, Friedle and Strong later got in contact with the Drake & Josh star, who previously called it “the most amazing conversation.”

“It’s gonna be life-long processing for me. I knew I had been lied to and manipulated by Brian, essentially from the courtroom, but I didn’t know how much until I saw the documentary. And then I really didn’t know how much until I spoke with Drake,” Friedle said. “Talking to Drake was amazing… horrible… healing, for a number of reasons. He started the conversation by saying to me, ‘Before you say a word, I want you to know I love you, and I forgive you.’”

During their phone call, Friedle clarified to Bell that he didn’t know who he was in the courtroom or on set a decade later.

“We both talked about how happy we were that was the case because we had the best day working together,” Friedle added. “All I wanted to do from the day in that courtroom was apologize to whoever was there. The idea that I found out later that he was standing in front of me, and I did not have that [chance] was nuts.”

He continued, “There comes a point where you have to look at yourself and go, I have to be OK that I made a huge mistake, that I owe this person an enormous apology, that it’s not going to be enough, and I’m going to spend a ton of time apologizing to this person. But you have to use that to move on and become a better person yourself.”

Strong added that the revelations in Quiet on Set, especially all that Bell went through, were “just devastating.”

“The pain, hurting for Drake, and just feeling so full of regret and shame and then just start picking apart the lies… my brother called me immediately, we just sat there on the phone, [sharing stories]. I just fell into this hole. I still haven’t quite gotten out,” Strong said. “Of course, moral clarity is just something that comes over time and distance. There’s really no excuse — that I accepted Brain’s story, that I didn’t ask the questions or do research or investigate on my own. Or even that I was ever friends with that piece of shit to behind with, there was so much denial.”

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is currently streaming on Max.

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