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Not too long ago, I was able to contain all of my excitement in order to conduct an interview with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani Thiessen. In case those names ~ring a bell~, it's because they played onscreen "it couple" Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski in the '90s and reprised their roles in Peacock's hilarious Saved by the Bell reboot. We were able to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce — here's everything we learned:
THEN — What was your favorite scene or episode from the original Saved by the Bell?
Tiffani Thiessen: It's hard for me to pick an actual favorite. But I have such strong memories of the summer episodes that we did at the beach. ... I would have to say that those were definitely my favorite to film throughout the whole show.Mark-Paul Gosselaar: I think we both echo that. Because yeah, we talked about this on my podcast [Writer's note: The podcast is called Zack to the Future and you should def give it a listen!] and people always come up to us and ask, "What's your favorite moment? What's your favorite scene?" And for us, it was work, you know? And people say, "Well, how can you not remember? It was such an important part of your life!" But we were young. And it was work. However, we remember moments off-set...and I think one of the reasons why [Tiffani] and I both feel that we remember the beach episodes is because they were off-set. That was on location, It wasn't in our usual environment. It was like going on a field trip for us. You don't remember what you did in school, but you remember your field trips, and the summer episodes for us were the best field trips.
BuzzFeed: Did you keep anything from the summer episodes? Like the bathing suits or surfboards? Or anything from the series in general?
MG: I wish I was more sentimental, because the only reason why I'm watching the episodes now is because of my podcast. Like, there were these Screech/Dustin Diamond masks that everybody wore and I wish I'd kept one of them — or like a Bayside T-shirt. There were so many props and I don't really have anything from the show.
TT: I have a pair of Levi's, which is nice because the '90s are back now [laughs]. I actually had the entire cast and crew sign those jeans...I also still have the letterman jacket that we got.
NOW — Do you have any favorite episodes or scenes from the reboot? Whether it was one that you were in or one that you watched?
MG: Honestly, the episode that I directed. [Writer's note: The episode in question is Episode 8 of the upcoming season.] There were a few scenes Tiffani and Elizabeth [Berkley Lauren, who reprised her role as Jessie Spano] have in the office and they're amazing. I was a bit nervous that I put those two in a room with that much dialogue and not much else, but you two nailed it. It was so fun to watch.
THEN — What were some of your favorite off-camera memories?
TT: Mark-Paul and I actually got to go overseas! The show premiered in all of these different countries, so we got to tour most of the US with the cast, but they had us two go international. We went to France and Belgium...it was my first time overseas. So, the memories of traveling with Mark-Paul — being 16 years old and in Europe — and exposing myself to different cultures was so memorable. Those travels are what sparked my love of cuisine and the culinary arts.
MG: Totally — can I say this? I'm going to say it — me, Tiffani, and my mom got high together in Amsterdam...
TT: Mark-Paul was a total gentleman. He held my hair back as I was vomiting.
MG: Yeah, again, I don't remember much of the show, but I remember those experiences. Like, we got gifted Cartier watches while we were in Paris? We ate a lot of croque-monsieurs and croque-madames. We played a lot of pool...but my favorite part of that trip was when we went down to Bordeaux and we went down the sand dunes.
TT: I tried escargot for the first time!
MG: We drank really good wine. Like, a lot.
NOW — What was it like reuniting with each other and playing your old characters together? And what about working with the cast?
TT: For me, I got to know the kids and hang out with them a lot more this season since in Season 1 we were all social-distanced. I got to know them so much more, which was fun because they're really great kids. And they're so professional! They were way more mature and professional than we ever were [laughs].
BuzzFeed: And what about working with Mario and Elizabeth specifically?
TT: Well, most of us have kept in touch. Like, Mark-Paul and I are still very close — our spouses are very close. We actually just went on a trip together to Denver! Same with Mario [Lopez, who reprised his role as Slater] and Elizabeth — I actually think the biggest reunion for me was with Ed [Alonzo, who reprised his role as Max] because I hadn't seen him in years. It was definitely fun and sweet to see him since it had been so long. Also, seeing Lark [Voohries, who reprised her role as Lisa Turtle] was huge for us as well. It was really fun to have her back.
MG: Yeah, it was great seeing Lark and Ed again after all these years. But Mario and I hang out together often and Elizabeth and I keep in touch — you know, after the show ended, we all went our separate ways for a period of time, but now we're grown and we all have kids the same age, so that brought us all back together. Plus, you know, social media makes it easier to keep in touch.
THEN / NOW — Do you have a favorite callback/homage that the reboot makes to the original series?
TT: There are SO MANY that you're just going to have to watch and find out. But I will say they were really smart with how they sprinkled them into the new series.
THEN / NOW — What was your initial reaction when you heard that Saved by the Bell was getting the reboot treatment?
TT: It was different for Mark-Paul and I [laughs]. You wanna take this one, Mark-Paul?
MG: Yeah, I'll be diplomatic about the whole thing [laughs]. You know, for years people have asked if we'd be interested in doing a reboot, and I think we made it very clear that — you know, after the initial run of the series and making sure we didn't get typecast — we all had a great experience, but we couldn't quite wrap our heads around a project that would celebrate the original while also feeling organic. Like, we had fun with Fallon, and playing those characters again, but coming up with writing and plot lines that were smarter and funnier? We were excited, but nothing viable every came across our desks. So, when Tracy Wiegfield got attached, we all got excited — and for her to come up with what she did...I mean, after that initial pitch meeting, I was on board. It blew me away. What Tracy did with this IP was above and beyond anything that I could have ever imagined.
THEN / NOW — In the reboot, Zack and Kelly are married and have their son, Mac, but prior to the reboot, where did you see your characters ending up?
TT: I'll be honest, I don't think I put a lot of thought into it [laughs]. But I will say, it definitely makes sense that they're still married. I'm not shocked by that. I am shocked that they only had one child. I would have expected...more [laughs].
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Mark-Paul and Tiffani! Be sure to catch this iconic duo on Season 2 of Saved by the Bell, now streaming on Peacock!