Dustin Diamond is publicly apologizing to his Saved By the Bell cast mates.
Diamond, 39, who played the beloved Samuel “Screech” Powers on the 90s sitcom, is opening up about the destructive habits that made their way into his life after the series ended — and is attempting to make things right with his five fellow cast members.
“Oddly enough, it’s doing interviews like this and getting the word out there. This is my best weapon for repairing the damage that was caused by things that were done by people who took advantage of me and the situation I was in at the time,” the actor tells Dr. Oz on Thursday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show of mending his public image.
“I will say, guys, I think you’re fantastic, working with you has been just one of the icons of my life and I’m sorry that this has taken advantage of me — the book and other situations I’m sure we’ll talk about here. But I’m sure that you’ve experienced downfalls, as well, in your time and I’m still loving you guys,” Diamond apologetically says into the camera to his five former costars: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Lark Voorhies, Tiffani Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley.
After the comedic show, which catapulted the five actors to become household names, wrapped in 1992 after four seasons on the air, Diamond went on to star in spin-offs The College Years and The New Class. But although Diamond was at the height of his career after his character came to an end in 2000, his newfound fame made room for negative habits that left him on the outs from both the cast and entertainment industry as a whole. Most recently, Diamond was arrested in May 2016 for violating his probation after he served three months in Ozaukee County Jail for stabbing a man during a street brawl in 2014.
After the show wrapped, Diamond’s tell-all book published in which he made claims that his costars “were sleeping around with each other” and alleged that there was drug use. “These claims understandably are upsetting,” Dr. Oz says to Diamond.
“Upsetting to more than just the other cast members — upsetting to me as well,” Diamond admits before revealing that he had a ghostwriter for his book. “As it turns out, the general public doesn’t realize, I didn’t write the book. I had a ghostwriter.”
But now, he’s attempting to refocus, progress and move forward, and realizes that the mistakes he made in the past have negatively impacted the present — which he is attempting to repair. He has also come to realize the significance his character had on the lives of everyday teens who looked up to him.
“It was very touching to have fans that came up to me and I’ve had people multiple times come up to me, I mean, we’re talking hundreds and hundred — thousands of people that have come up and said, you got me through high school. You know, I was the Screech in my school and you represented everything that I felt at that time, which I never thought of when I was doing the show,” he tells Dr. Oz. “When I was 11 through 21, I was just memorizing lines and trying to make the live audience laugh and the producers laugh and everything else. Trying to work with my cast mates and make the director happy and everything else. It was work for me. I didn’t think about the impact I had on the fan base until years later, until I got to meet them.”
Todd Bridges and Jaimee Foxxworth will also appear on the same Dr. Oz Show episode as Diamond, airing Thursday on Fox (check local listings).