Saved by the Bell: Mario Lopez & Elizabeth Berkley Share NBC Memories

Peacock shared a featurette, which probably should have been released around its season two premiere back in November 2021, involving two of the original stars of Saved by the Bell in Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley. Lopez plays Bayside High's alpha-jock-turned-gym-teacher A.C. Slater and Berkley Lauren plays feminist overachieving student-turned-guidance counselor Jessie Spano Ph.D. The two recalled their original auditions for the NBC Saturday morning series in the 1990s created by Sam Bobrick while highlighting clips of the original series' season two.

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Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley in Saved by the Bell. Image courtesy of Evans Vestal Ward / Peacock

EB: The first time I met Mario aka Dud, that's what I called him. I can see it vividly. We were in a hallway. We were testing for the show. It was the final callback.

ML: You sort of hang out there with the other actors waiting to get called in to read. That's what they say, right, to go audition for the scene. She was very personable, very nice.

EB: We both had our sides which is a portion of the script that we were holding and we said, 'Hello'. We were all super focused, obviously because we wanted the role.

ML: We just kind of hit it off right away obviously not knowing that we were both going to be cast.

EB: I do remember the 'Hello'. You know that expression, 'You had me at Hello?' Well, I think we had each other at 'Hello'.

Saved by the Bell: Mario Lopez & Elizabeth Berkley Share NBC Memories
Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez in Saved by the Bell (1989) – Image courtesy of NBC Universal

When it came to the cast's day on set, they were dealing with balancing school with work that put them in a unique position as actors playing their appropriate ages. Later, they also acclimated to the fame of becoming child stars.

EB: So I have very very vivid memories of us organizing our stuff and setting up our school room. We all shared one big room. [There were] six long tables for each of us that were our 'desks' and we had two tutors.

ML: We were all real teenagers playing teenagers, which was kind of a rare thing.

EB: We actually were in high school while we were playing high school kids. So every rite of passage our characters were going through, we were going through too. We had to do three hours a day of school and that was in between doing rehearsal on set and running back to the school. So you can be in the middle of a French lesson and suddenly they call you to go do that scene. It was a lot of fun. A lot of the hijinks happened in that pseudo school room I have to say.

ML: I never thought about Saved by the Bell being a huge hit because it was a Saturday morning show. We were going up against cartoons and Bugs Bunny was a big competition. I just thought 'Okay the kid show is fun to do for awhile.' I didn't think it'd ever really be popular outside of little kids. When it went into syndication, then it kind of took a whole another life of its own and at that point, I was just tripping out that a lot of people were watching of all ages. I was like, 'Really?! Woah!' How Come?'

For more on the legacy of their characters, Jessie as a feminist icon, the duo's chemistry, and their roles on the Peacock reboot, check out the full featurette below:

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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