Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World is one of television's most beloved characters, and we have Shakespeare to thanks for bringing him to fruition. Yes, the legendary scribe is the reason why actor William Daniels joined the series. In his new memoir There I Go Again: How I Came to Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT, and Many Others, he reveals the initial Shakespeare references convinced him to say yes to the role.
Michael Jacobs, the show's creator, drafted a fresh script that featured a speech about Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Feeny (based on his high school drama teacher) was meant to recite to a young Cory Matthews. Daniels explains in this excerpt via Vulture:
Over the years you fine-tune your acting ability. It doesn’t mean you’re not capable of giving a lousy performance now and again, but on the whole you reach a point where you’ve increased your level of achievement. And it’s at that point, assuming that you are financially secure, that you have to protect your reputation by choosing carefully the roles you commit to. It was with that in mind that I expressed my doubts about taking on the role of George Feeny in a half-hour sitcom called Boy Meets World.
At a meeting with the show’s author and executive producer, Michael Jacobs, already an established playwright and sitcom creator, as well as a movie producer, I told him I didn’t want to play a high school teacher who’s made to look foolish for the sake of some cheap laughs. I had too much respect for the underpaid, underappreciated teachers of this country to portray one of them as a fool. Michael told me about Bob Stevens, a Shakespeare-loving high school drama teacher he had had back in New Jersey who was his mentor and a man he greatly respected. With this teacher as his inspiration, he created George Feeny. Michael was very persuasive and assured me that he would never have me play an idiot, so I came on board.