Of the many shows Mark-Paul Gosselaar has acted on over the last 32 years, the one that has the most fans stopping him remains Saved by the Bell. He smiles broadly that the 1989-92 series still touches people.
“The thing I find odd is younger generations recognizing me from watching the show,” says Gosselaar, now 44. He’s since starred on NYPD Blue, Raising the Bar, Franklin & Bash and many others, including Pitch, which he loved and was “blindsided” when it was canceled.
“As actors, you deal with a lot of heartbreak,” he says. “That job you auditioned for and didn’t get. My earliest memory of rejection was I got a commercial for Wham-O, and they replaced me on set with an actor. I was about 10, and it was Paul Walker. He and I grew up in the industry together.”
And so at a young age, he learned to deal with rejection. “It shapes you,” Gosselaar says. That and being the father of four informs his character of Brad Wolgast on The Passage.
“My hope is that at the end, I get to retire,” he says. “I would love nothing more than not to have to look for the next thing and have some sort of security. I’m getting to a point in my career where I want security and what I really want to do is develop (projects).” Relaxing after a press conference in the Beverly Hilton lobby, he answers our 7 Questions.
- What other jobs have you had besides acting?
No other jobs except mowing lawns. I used to mow my own lawn. I used to live on a 7-acre ranch and had horses and maintained my own property. My wife and I are very handy, and I never have to hire someone to install a ceiling fan.
- What three things do you have to have in your refrigerator or pantry?
Almonds, some sort of dried meat, fruit. My wife would say I eat ice cream, but not every day.
- What movie can you watch over and over?
The Big Lebowski
- What was your biggest splurge?
A 1955 red Ford pick-up truck. I bought it at 19. I was 18 when I bought a Harley. I would buy these things when I got a job. When I got a show on the WB, I got a grill. I retooled my home gym with Pitch.
- If you could invite a handful of people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be?
Lately, everything is so political; I would love to have a dinner party with ex-presidents and our current president — just to see. I would love to have George Washington and George Sr. [Bush] and Bill [Clinton] and Barack [Obama] and the current president and listen to their policies and them as human beings.
- What is your most prized possession?
My wife and four kids. (When we chatted this summer, the children were 14, 12, 5 and 3.)
- Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
The first time I worked with Dennis Franz (on NYPD Blue), and with Donald Sutherland and Geena Davis on Commander in Chief. And I was recently starstruck with Robert De Niro in Heist. Just being in the same room and watching him act, and thinking “That was very De Niro there, what he did. Oh, shit! That’s what I am supposed to do!” I was starstruck every day with Matt Reeves [Executive producer for The Passage]. He’s a great director and writer. It’s cool to be in a business with people you think about that way.
The Passage, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX