Dustin Diamond has died at the age of 44, just weeks after being diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer (via TMZ). Diamond was best known for his role as Samuel “Screech” Powers on Saved By The Bell, a character he played through all of the beloved series’ iterations, for 12 years. But like many child stars, Dustin Diamond had a complicated relationship with his years on Saved by the Bell.
While he did have good things to say about his time on the sitcom, he also had a lot of negative life experiences that came with the role. He vacillated between loving and hating the role, something he was very open about.
He explained those feelings in an interview with Vulture in 2013. “I’m totally thrilled that, that happened. It was part of my childhood,” Diamond said. “When people don’t want to be known as their character, it’s not like they’re ashamed of it or running from it. It has to do with future work and how the industry works. When you become a household name like that, you go to other auditions and they’re saying, ‘We like it, but we saw too much Screech in it.’ And it’s like, ‘God, I can’t change my bone structure!'”
Dustin Diamond had a soft spot for Screech
With the most recent Saved by the Bell reboot, there weren’t moves to include Diamond, but he had ideas ready for Screech if the opportunity presented itself.
“I think right now Screech would be dealing with parenthood and dealing with his kids and finding out he’s got a little Screech of his own now,” he told TMZ. “And that maybe he wasn’t a barrel full of roses to deal with growing up and realizing, ‘Was I ever this difficult?'”
He also expressed dismay at not being included in the new version of the show. “How do you have Saved by the Bell without Screech? Right?” he said. “I mean, it seems like there’s a missed opportunity there.”
In his Vulture interview, Diamond was able to recognize how his relationship with Screech affected him as a person outside of the character. “Growing up and being in the industry so long, I haven’t always made the best choices in certain things. I’ve pulled some publicity stunts in my day that people may believe are true or false. But, it is still entertaining for me just like it is for anyone else,” he said.
He also said that, ultimately, he hoped people enjoyed the story that he told all those years. “For me, I think story is everything. The overall story. That’s one of the things I liked about my era of TV: The experience in what you felt after watching these things left you with a good vibe.”
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