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Mark-Paul Gosselaar...From Outrageous Con Man To Reluctant Icon!

(Guide To Saved By the Bell: The College Years )

Q: How does it feel being considered an icon, you know a teen idol?

A: I'm not sure I really like it....You can't help but be a little skeptical...especially when you have people coming up to you in so many places. I've even had girls ring my doorbell...that's a little intrusive. I mean, I always try to be nice to my fans 'cause I appreciate that they watch the show, but coming to my home is overdoing it.

Q: You mean being recognized isn't always a good thing?

A: Right...Sometimes there have been mothers who have driven their kids up to my door and I'll turn them down [for autographs] because I think that's ridiculous -- if I start responding to everyone who shows up at my door, it'll never end! But the mothers will come back afterward and say they've driven from some far off place. We try to explain to them that you're driving up to my home and asking me for a picture and autograph and it's intruding. Thank you for watching the show, but there's a right way to ask someone for an autograph!

Q: So fame can be hard?

A: Sometimes it's bad because I like to be more reserved and I don't like to be looked at a lot. And then you have people coming up to you, going, "Oh, I want to meet you!" It's hard, but that's part of the job. If I don't want that to happen, I should get out of the job!...At times [fame] excites me and at other times it depresses me. I think that's normal. I think it's normal that at times everybody wants some privacy. But if I didn't like it, then I shouldn't be in this career. It wouldn't be the career for me, if I didn't enjoy being noticed and having fingers pointed at me.

Q: How do you handle it?

A: Well, I was brought up [grounded]. My parents brought me up with good values and respect....And discipline. I also think that, no matter who it is, one parent should stay with the kid until the kid is five. Meaning that he doesn't go to preschool or whatever. He should stay home and learn the values which you don't get in school. You need quality time with your kids.

Q: Your mom is your manager--what's that like?

A: Good. I think she's quite happy with what I'm doing. So long as I'm happy, she's happy. She's a great lady.

Q: Does she ever try and fix you up with a date?

A: Oh , no! She's very protective like that. She still thinks I'm a little baby. But I wish she would!

Q: How do you usually meet the girls you date?

A: Through friends, I guess. I haven't dated many people--I haven't had a [steady] girlfriend in years. I don't think I'm ready to have a relationship. I have a lot of girl friends who are just real good friends of mine and we just go out. I'm very picky about the girls I go out with. Sometimes I want a girl with brown hair and brown eyes, and other times I want a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. You never know!

Q: How do you think your TV character, Zack, has changed in Saved By The Bell: The College Years?

A: I think he's changed in a normal sense. He's matured. He's adapted to his environment pretty well. I don't know too much what's going to happen in the future, but I see that he's going to become even more grown up and even more mature and take responsibility for his life....I think Zack's learning that he's gonna have a little more trouble getting by on his charm and good looks....I think he has evolved the way I have. You know, more mature, you become a little bit older like everybody else. I think the character has become more like me rather than the other way around....He's more down to earth. he's not as high strung. The audience is going to like him a little better because he's not so fake all the time. He's got a real side to him. He's more appealing, too....He's relatable.

Q: How is the atmosphere different on the set of this show as compared to the original Saved By The Bell?

A: We have more adults on the set. We kind of joke around like adults now. It's not that Saturday morning atmosphere. All of us are older. All of us have pretty much a life of our own right now. Most of us have moved out. So, there's an older sense on the set and everyone is part of a bigger family now. Everybody has got their own lives, so nobody is attached to each other like on Saturday morning when we used to all go out together after the show. There's a more professional atmosphere.

Q: Do you mean you aren't friends any more?

A: No...but we tend to go our own ways. Of course, Tiffani and I are still very close. When you work with people everyday for four years, you spend so much time together that when you have free time, you need to get away and be with other people. You just want some time alone. Weekends come and I think we all feel relieved that we don't have to see each other. We're real close, but too much of each other isn't good either.

Q: On your days off, which do you rather do--take a walk on the beach by yourself, go out to dinner with a few close friends or go clubbing with a large group?

A: None of the above! [Laughs] I'm not going to tell you, because then you're going to put it in one of those [multiple choice] SAT questions! Nah, I'm kidding! [I'd] just get away from everybody!

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: I don't like to say specifically what I like to do, but I do try to get away. As long as I can get away from the industry when I have time off, I'm happy. I enjoy camping and outdoors stuff. I don't like to tell people that I do this and that because I don't like always doing the same things...I like trying new things...I still like spending time at home relaxing, too....I also like driving around in my car listening to tapes.

Q: What about girlfriends?

A: I don't really have time for girlfriends right now...

Q: Is it hard to know if a girl likes you for you or for you being a star?

A: You really have to take some time to figure out if someone likes you because of who you are or because you're on a TV show....You never really know....You have to get to know them first. You can't make that judgement when you first meet them. That's what's hard. You have to give it some time--two weeks or three weeks or longer. It's hard to find someone who's just right. A lot of people just want to hang around you because you're on TV. Let's put it this way--I haven't had a girlfriend since I started acting on the show. It seems that the more successful you get, the more they want to latch on to you. They want to be with you and be involved in everything that you do.

Q: Well, what does attract you to a girl?

A: Something that when you see her, you just think this is the person that's right for me. It's unrealistic to say I want this or this because it's unrealistic to think [she's] going to be exactly what I want. But when I find the right one, I'll tell you.

Q: Who do you think is the most beautiful girl in the world?

A: Niki Taylor, the fashion model. I was just looking at her picture the other day. She's my age. I've seen her in pictures with her sister and I think that she and her sister have to be the best looking sisters I've ever seen.

Q: So you like model types?

A: I change drastically from what I like and what I want. I like "model" looks and then I don't. I don't want to put what I like into a category.

Q: Are there questions you hate being asked?

A: Yes--questions about my hair!...Some lady asked me about my hair and how it affects my daily life! [Laughs]

Q: Back to the show for a minute--do you want to direct this year?

A: I don't have any interest in directing, but I do have an interest in [what goes on] behind the camera!

Q: What about your other TV show, Brains And Brawn-- you're more involved in that than just being on camera?

A: Yes--it's the game show I'm doing. I'm also the creative consultant for it. I was happy about that because, it is behind the camera--so if I don't make it as an actor, I will always have a back up.

Q: What about college--we heard you wanted to play football and go to college?

A: I thought about it, but acting's just too much fun to give up right now. I like the challenges....What I'm going to do is just try to work as hard as I can, ride this nice little wave that I'm on right now...as far as I can go....If acting doesn't work, I'll probably go on to junior college, play a little ball, and then go on to regular college. You never know. Once I say, "Acting isn't me anymore," I'm going to stop.

Q: Let's get to some personal questions...do you prefer being called Mark or Mark-Paul?

A: Mark-Paul. A lot of people will write Mark-Paul on the fan letters' envelopes, and then inside write Mark. It's Mark-Paul with a hyphen in the middle....Mark-Paul is the name I was given. And it's not my middle name hooked onto my first. That's my name. I also have a middle name?

Q: What is it?

A: I don't like to tell.... It's nothing bad. I just don't like to say. I like Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

Q: What about your fascination with motorcycles and racing...?

A: I like riding my motorcycles. I'm really into motocross, but I have to put it on hold sometimes, like when I'm doing a movie. I can't go on camera with injuries, obviously!

Q: You have a story about when you got your Harley Davidson...

A: Yeah! It was great!...I wanted to go to the Saved By The Bell wrap party on a bike with my mom on the back. I was thinking of buying a Harley, but I was going to buy it in the summer. I was going to borrow my friend's bike. So, my friend comes rolling up on his motorcycle and I said, "Wow! I really want to ride it!" and he says, "this is my baby. Don't crash it. Here's my registration. Memorize it in case you get pulled over." When I looked at the registration, it said, "Mark-Paul Gosselaar."...I almost cried.

Q: What other bikes do you have?

A: Besides the Harley, I have a Japanese racing bike and a motocross bike. My whole family is into motorcycles and cars.

Q: When did you first start racing?

A: I used to have this little motorcycle when I was three years old. My first race was when I was five! We all started early. My brother has four boys --the youngest one is three and he's starting to ride now. It's sort of in our blood, I guess!

Q: Do you have any heroes?

A: No, I don't really have heroes and I never had a hero as a kid. I was never into Superman or anything like that. I respect a lot of people, mostly athletes, like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Those are the kinds of guys I'd wait in line to get an autograph from...I haven't ever really gotten an autograph from anybody. I met Michael Jordan at a game, though. It was arranged for me, but he had to leave so it was kind of like, "Hi" and "Bye." Afterwards, I had mixed emotions. I felt I really didn't meet the guy. Everyone else was going, "Oh, my God, you got to shake his hand," but it wasn't very satisfying.

Q: Are you into Hollywood parties?

A: No, not really. I'm not into that whole typical actor thing where you go and play and read this and that. It's so funny how people take things so seriously. They forget the fun of it. I'm serious about my job, but I'm not obsessed about it. When I do my job, I do my job and I don't care what other people are doing. I don't ever think, "Wow, I really like that guy, I wish I was in his shoes." People like Christian Slater are doing a good job. He's a good actor and I respect his work, but he's just doing his thing.

Q: Do you watch Saved By The Bell reruns?

A: No, actually, I turn it off. Am I embarrassed? Yeah, I guess you could call it that. I just don't like to watch myself. I don't know why. I criticize myself too much. I always say, "Oh, man, I can't believe I did it like that" or "I can't believe I look like that!"

Q: Do you like seeing photos and pinups of yourself in magazines?

A: No. I don't like to see myself in pictures. I would say there's a handful I like. I think I'm very insecure in front of a camera. However, in front of a TV camera, I think I'm very open. It's almost like this is my world and I know how to work around it.

Q: Do you remember your first date?

A: It's funny, I don't really remember my first date, but I do remember my first kiss! I was about thirteen and it was at school. I kissed this girl behind the basketball backdrop in the gym--not so much because I wanted to, but because somebody dared me to! And when I was thirteen, I never said "no" to a dare!

Q: Do you see yourself married some day?

A: Yes! I'm not in love right now. In fact, I'm not even seeing anyone right now. But, of course, I think about it sometimes. You know, meeting the right person, falling in love. And I definitely see myself married someday, and having children, too. But that's a long time away, I think. I'd really like to wait to get married, until I've accomplished a lot of things as an actor--to wait until I'm settled professionally. So it's not like I have this certain age that I'd like to be married by--more like a certain time in my life when I've completed some of the things I want, and I'm in a good place in my career. But, hey, who knows--if I suddenly find the right person, I could change my mind. If I meet someone tomorrow, I could be married the next day! Life is funny like that--you just never know.

Q: We knew you were of Dutch heritage, but you recently told us that your mother is Indonesian--have you ever been to her homeland?

A: No I haven't, but I plan to. One of my goals in the future is to go back to Indonesia and see where my mother came from...Bali...I collect a lot of things from Indonesia, so I'm pretty interested in that background.

Q: Do you cook?

A: Yes. I can cook anything.

Q: Do you ever eat junk food?

A: Oh, once in a while. Junk food's not bad for me. I guess I can have some. I'm not worried about gaining fat because I have a very high metabolism. Even if I did, I could lose it easily.

Q: What kinds of food do you eat?

A: In the morning, I eat a couple of hard-boiled eggs, only the whites, with a couple cups of oatmeal. During the day, I'll have an average of about three baked potatoes with two cups of rice and some vegetables. And I eat an average of four chicken breasts a day. Chicken's good for you. It's really healthy!

Q: Last question--do you like doing interviews?

A: I think interviews are fun. But as far as sharing stuff about myself, I've never shared everything with people. I don't tell people everything about myself!