See '90s Teen Idol Mark-Paul Gosselaar Now at 48
The Saved by the Bell star made the leap to an adult TV career.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar became one of the most popular young actors in the '90s playing charming troublemaker Zack Morris on the high school sitcom Saved by the Bell. Cast first on the Disney Channel sitcom that would be rebooted into Saved by the Bell—Good Morning, Miss Bliss—Gosselaar was one of the few actors who made the jump to the new show, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who grew up wishing they attended Bayside High and didn't have a crush on him. But eventually, everyone grows out of their Saved by the Bell phase, though Gosselaar played also Zack in two TV movies, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and one episode of Saved by the Bell: The New Class. And though he's still connected to his breakout role, even returning to poke fun at it in the recent revival, the actor had no problem transitioning into an adult acting career. Read on to find out more about Gosselaar's life and career today.
He went on to star in several more TV shows.
Gosselaar had done episodes of a few TV shows before Good Morning, Miss Bliss, including The Twilight Zone, The Wonder Years, and Charles in Charge. And immediately after Saved by the Bell came to an end, the actor did a run of TV movies, including playing against type in She Cried No with Candace Cameron Bure. He starred in the WB series Hyperion Bay and D.C., but the role that established Gosselaar as an adult actor was playing Detective John Clark in NYPD Blue from 2001 to 2005. From 2011 to 2014, he starred with Breckin Meyer in the legal dramedy Franklin & Bash; in 2016, he played a Major League catcher in the beloved but short-lived sports drama, Pitch; in 2019, he led the supernatural thriller Passage; and for two seasons, he portrayed the younger version of Bow Johnson's father Paul on the Black-ish prequel, Mixed-ish. He's also had guest and recurring roles in many more shows, including Happy Endings, Weeds, CSI, and Nobodies.
He hates watching himself on Saved by the Bell.
In 2020, Gosselaar told Variety that he really didn't enjoy watching old episodes of Saved by the Bell to prep for a podcast called Zack to the Future he co-hosts with Dashiell Driscoll, known for the Zack Morris Is Trash web series.
"I feel like it's a little bit torturous every week for me to go through this process because I am watching my work—and it doesn't matter that it's 30 years old, it's still something that I feel like I can improve," he said. Gosselaar added, however, that overall, the experience of filming the hit teen show was a good one. "A lot of people forget that we were the same age as the characters, so we were going through the same experiences as them," he said. "And there was no ego on the set—there was no negative energy—and when you watch the show you see that bleeding through."
But he was still disappointed when the reboot was canceled.
While he's not a fan of his own work on the original series, Gosselaar happily joined the cast of the Saved by the Bell reboot, which aired for two seasons on Peacock. While the new series focuses on another group of Bayside students in the present day, original characters are in the mix as well. That includes Zack Morris, who has basically talked his way into becoming governor of California. After he makes the unpopular choice to close all the low-performing schools in the state, the mostly rich and white Bayside gets an influx of diverse new students. Zack and Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) are still married (and have a son who's just like his dad), and while they aren't in every episode, the reboot wouldn't have been the same without their casting.
When the well-reviewed show was canceled, Gosselaar, who also has an executive producer credit on the series, shared a message with fans on Twitter. He wrote, "So disappointed by this news. So many talented individuals in all departments creating something original from a reboot. Respect and admiration to everyone involved and thanks to the viewers."
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He's a protective dad.
Gosselaar has been married twice. He tied the knot with Lisa Ann Russell in 1996, and the couple had two kids together—Michael Charles, born in 2004, and Ava Lorenn, born in 2006—before they split in 2011. Since the same year, Gosselaar has been married to Catriona McGinn. They also welcomed two kids: Dekker Edward, born in 2013, and Lachlyn Hope, born in 2015 (both pictured above).
Though he's had a successful career, Gosselaar doesn't necessarily want his kids to follow him into the business. "The rejection that you deal with as a kid, I thought it was pretty blunt growing up, like, the reasons for why you didn't get [the role]," he told People in 2021. "They're like, 'Eh, they just didn't like your look.' 'Oh, okay. Yeah, I'll go process that.'"
The actor added that the business makes one grow up too fast, remembering a moment when a Saved by the Bell director told him, "The minute you walk through these double doors leading onto the stage, you're no longer a child anymore, you're an adult. You have to act like an adult."
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