It might be hard to imagine anyone but Dustin Diamond playing Screech in Saved by the Bell, but one familiar personality actually auditioned for the part.
During a virtual interview on Wednesday, April 1, with guest Ryan Reynolds for the at-home edition of The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert revealed (by accident) that he auditioned for the role a long time ago.
Want the Top 5 news stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox before you even wake up? Sign up for the Fame10 Top 5 newsletter and receive 5 breaking news stories every morning!
The revelation came about after Reynolds recalled how he was told to dress “nice casual” during his own first actor audition.
“I didn’t know what that meant, but I know that I did show up wearing a thin leather tie that had piano keys on it,” Reynolds said, quipping that he looked like someone from “the crew of Saved by the Bell.”
“Oh! I auditioned for Saved by the Bell,” Colbert exclaimed. “That was my first professional audition. 1986? They came to Chicago, I was a student at Northwestern University. And I don’t know, somebody had seen me do something, somebody had scouted me at the school.”
“I got called down to a casting agent on Michigan Avenue in Chicago,” he added. “I walk in, they hand me the thing and I was auditioning for the part of — was the character’s name Screech? Was it Screech?”
Reynolds was shocked.
“Dustin Diamond?! Who ended up getting the role of Screech?” he shouted.
“I auditioned for Screech! I’m not joking,” Colbert said, while laughing. “Let me tell you how big I was — imagine how that character ended up in broadcast. I did my audition and they said to me, ‘There’s a term you’re going to need to know about as a professional. It’s called over the top. You just went over the top.’ And then I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics Dustin Diamond brought to that part.”
“Screech was not the My Left Foot role that you thought it would be,” Reynolds quipped.
Saved by the Bell ran for four seasons on NBC from 1989 to 1993. The sitcom followed a group of high school friends starring Diamond, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley and Lark Voorhies.
A Saved by the Bell reboot with some of the original stars is in the works for NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service called Peacock.