Dustin Diamond’s tragic death from cancer surprised many, especially since the actor’s diagnosis became known only weeks ago. It not only shocked the public but his Saved By the Bell co-stars as well, including Mario Lopez. The two had remained close for years after the show ended, and Lopez recently reflected on his time working with Diamond on the iconic NBC comedy.
Mario Lopez and Dustin Diamond became teen stars as A.C. Slater and Samuel “Screech” Powers, respectively, during their time on NBC’s Saved By the Bell. Their time on set formed a bond that lasted until Diamond’s recent death. Lopez recently spoke with Variety about his relationship with Diamond, and the actor reminisced on the antics he and Diamond used to get into while shooting the '90s teen sitcom:
We shot a lot in the summer time, so it was a lot of juvenile, silly, fun antics stuff that we’d get into. I thought he was a funny kid. I liked to have fun and he was like my sidekick.
After highlighting their on-set antics, Mario Lopez spoke on Dustin Diamond’s contribution to making Saved By the Bell the classic it is today. He talked about all of Diamond’s idiosyncrasies in portraying Screech and how they ultimately made the actor and his performance "iconic":
He was iconic. In general, his little looks and facial expressions and voice and the way it cracked, it was just the quintessential goofy, lovable fun nerd [character] and it really resonated with the kids. And that was all him; he was kind of like Screech in real life… He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don’t know if it would have worked without him.
Mario Lopez’s words about Dustin Diamond’s influence on Saved By the Bell highlighted how important the later actor was to the show’s success. Hearing about his and Diamond’s dynamic painted the two to be almost like siblings. Just before Diamond’s death, Lopez had posted on Instagram about connecting with the late actor after his cancer diagnosis.
Mario Lopez wasn’t the only Saved By the Bell alum to mourn the passing of Dustin Diamond. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Theisen, Elizabeth Berkley and Lark Voorhies expressed their condolences as well, sharing memories about the actor. Even Ed Alonzo (who played Max) posted an image of a young Diamond while Tori Spelling (who played on-screen girlfriend Violet) talked about her time with the actor on the series.
As evidenced by Mario Lopez’s words, he and Dustin Diamond shared a bond that lasted long after Saved By the Bell ended. Diamond’s death put his contributions to the series in a new light. Fans hoping to revisit Dustin Diamond's performance as Screech, or see it for the first time, can stream Saved By the Bell on Peacock, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.