It’s been just over a month since Dustin Diamond’s sudden death following a stage 4 small cell carcinoma diagnosis, and his co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar is yet again speaking out on the tragic passing.
This time he had a chance to reflect on why he and the rest of the Saved By The Bell cast had distanced themselves from the actor — and to remember the last time the TV BFFs saw each other.
Opening up on his podcast Zack to the Future, the 47-year-old known for his role as Zack Morris, Bayside High’s charming schemer, shared on Friday:
“Three weeks before [his death] we had heard about a diagnosis…Mario [Lopez] had spoken to him and was filling me in and some of the other cast.”
Hinting at the very public separation between the young stars and late actor, the host added:
“I feel for his family and his friends. It’s no secret that the rest of the cast wasn’t very close with Dustin toward the end of his life.”
Dustin played the lovable Screech, Zack’s sweet, nerdy counterpart on the hit series. Sadly, the child actor faced many of the all too familiar consequences of gaining fame as a kid. After a few public fall-outs with former friends and castmates, Diamond went on to write a scathing tell-all book about his time as the show. He was also arrested multiple times, including once for a knife fight at a bar.
Much of this drama resurfaced when Screech was notably absent from Peacock’s revival, but Mark-Paul insisted viewers don’t know the full story:
“There’s a lot going on that people don’t understand.”
Apparently there were plans to have the actor reprise his role eventually, but, alas, behind-the-scenes issues stopped that from happening. Though, speaking on the public “breakup” between Dustin and the cast, the Franklin & Bash alum noted:
“The only thing I can say is there’s really nothing that caused that. Some people will speculate that, ‘Oh, well, he wrote a book,’ ‘Oh, he did this,’ ‘Oh, he did that.’ I know for me, I would look at that and just go, ‘You know what? That’s Dustin.’ I could see where he would have to do things to make ends meet. [I] never took it personally.”
While the duo certainly couldn’t have been called “friends” any time recently as their relationship was hardly much to talk about post-Saved, Mark-Paul maintained an amicable acquaintance with his fictional bestie, saying of the last time they saw one another in person:
“We did a Comic-Con back in 2019. I saw him. He looked healthy. I met his girlfriend. We had a nice little conversation and we took some photos with some of the fans. That was it. We didn’t talk after that.”
Like so many friendships, some just aren’t build to last. The Mixed-ish star continued:
“What a lot of people don’t understand is that you can work with somebody for many years [and not talk to them again]. That’s just the nature of this industry…It’s a sad thing about the business, but it does happen.”
Hey, we get it!! People change, life happens! At least we’ll always have the show to look back on and remember Screech apart of the gang. Understanding Dustin’s legacy will never die, Gosselaar concluded:
“He was an amazing actor on the show. He was a good friend. But other than that, I don’t know much about Dustin because for 20-plus years we were not in each other’s lives. But my memories of him are all positive, and I feel for all of his family and friends.”
Sounds like, as far as Mark-Paul is concerned, there never was bad blood. Just… no blood? Well, we’re just glad Dustin’s former co-stars have been able to reflect on his impact now that he’s tragically gone too soon.
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