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Stephen Colbert Auditioned To Play 'Saved By The Bell's Screech?!

Gettyimages | John Lamparski
By Adreon Patterson

Late-night talk host Stephen Colbert recently admitted that he auditioned for the role of Samuel "Screech" Powers on the classic high school comedy Saved by the Bell.

He made the revelation during a recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Colbert has made a career as a successful comedian. He gained prominence as a Daily Show correspondent and then got his own show The Colbert Report, satirizing cable news pundit shows. He now hosts The Late Show every night, even during self-isolation.

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Saved By the Bell was a classic high school comedy on NBC, originally premiering as Good Morning, Miss Bliss in 1988. The series is currently being revived as part of the programming for the upcoming Peacock streaming service.

Colbert got his first credit in a 1993 episode of Missing Persons before becoming a regular on the short-lived 1996 Dana Carvey Show.

He remembered his audition for the role Dustin Diamond ultimately played on the April 1 episode of The Late Show.

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During this episode, Ryan Reynolds was Colbert’s guest via video chat from his home. They were talking about how they were dressing for television appearances under self-isolation.

Reynolds shared a story about wearing a tie with piano keys to his first job and commented that it was something a Saved By the Bell character would wear, which reminded Colbert of his history with the show.

“I auditioned for Saved By the Bell,” Colbert stated. “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.”

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Saved By the Bell aired every Saturday morning on NBC. Most episodes dealt with the rebellious hijinks of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) but occasionally they had serious episodes like Jesse Spano(Elizabeth Berkley)’s addiction to caffeine pills.

During the series, Screech was the wacky sidekick to cool kids Zack, Jesse, A.C. Slater (played by Mario Lopez), Lisa Turtle (played by Lark Voorhies) and Kelly Kapowski (played by Tiffani Thiessen).

Colbert seemingly fits the type in his college days as a 22-year-old college senior (Diamond is 12 years younger than Colbert).

“I got called down to a casting agent on Michigan Ave. in Chicago,” Colbert said. “I walk in, they hand me the thing and I was auditioning for a part. Was the character’s named Screech? I auditioned for Screech. I’m not joking.”

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Diamond’s performance as Screech would not have been for Colbert, with his trademark high pitched voice and plenty of weird mannerisms.

Colbert went on to talk about his disastrous audition.

“I audition for this part of Screech and let me tell you how big I was,” Colbert mentioned. “Imagine how that character ended up in broadcast. I did my audition and they said to me, ‘Um, there’s a term you’re going to need to know as a professional. It’s called over the top. You just went over the top. Don’t do that.”

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During the interview, Colbert and Reynolds began riffing on the idea that Diamond gave a subtle performance.

Colbert said, “Then I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics that Dustin Diamond brought to that part."

Reynolds added, “Screech was not a nuanced role. It was not the My Left Foot role you thought it would be.”

Looking at Colbert's career now, if he had taken the role, there is no telling where he would have been now when you compare it to Diamond's.

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