Actor Mario Lopez is remembering his Saved by the Bell co-star Dustin Diamond as his “fun, goofy little brother.” Diamond died Monday (Feb. 1) after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He was 44.
Lopez told Variety that the two stayed in contact throughout the years and that he spoke to Diamond only a couple of weeks ago. “He was reluctant to go in [to the hospital] for a while because he didn’t know if anything was going to get out,” Lopez says. “And I said, ‘Bro, that’s foolish, you’ve got to get in there and take care of yourself and forget what people are saying,’”
Lopez and Diamond met in the late 1980s on the set of the sitcom Saved by the Bell and worked together for four years. Lopez played cool jock A.C. Slater, while Diamond played funny geek “Screech” Powers.
“We shot a lot in the summertime, so it was a lot of juvenile, silly, fun antics stuff that we’d get into,” Lopez says about his time shooting the sitcom with Diamond and the rest of the cast. “I thought he was a funny kid. I liked to have fun and he was like my side-kick.”
He remembers Diamond as “an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy” of the show.
“He was iconic,” Lopez says. “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.”