Hollywood history is full of crazy “what if?” scenarios when it comes to casting. You probably know that Burt Reynolds was up for the part of Han Solo in Star Wars, but did you know that Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, also tested for the part? And you can uncover a thousand other stories like that. But now, we have one of the weirdest ones yet. Stephen Colbert just shared that he auditioned for the role of Screech on Saved by the Bell while he was in college. And he told this delightful news to Ryan Reynolds of all people, during a recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
You can listen to Colbert tell Reynolds the full story of his brush with Screech-dom in the below video (which we first learned of from Mike Ryan). The Saved by the Bell talks begin at 3:03.
His first professional audition!
His age probably wasn’t why Colbert didn’t get the role, but let’s do some math anyway. He auditioned in 1986, so he was 22-years-old. It’s not at all unusual for twentysomethings to portray high schoolers in Hollywood. However, the Saved by the Bell kids were all supposed to be freshmen at Bayside High School. Even in a Hollywood landscape that thought a 33-year-old Stockard Channing could play Rizzo in Grease, having a college age dude play someone that is supposed to be at the start of puberty could be a wee bit of a stretch. Of course, 90210 famously did it, so what do I know?
But nah, it wasn’t really about age. Colbert said in the video, “I did my audition and they said to me, ‘There’s a term you’re going to need to know about as a professional. It’s called over-the-top. You just went over-the-top. Don’t do that anymore.’ I saw the subtle, I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics that Dustin Diamond brought to that part.”
Of course, Dustin Diamond ultimately got the part, and was actually 12-years-old when the first season was filmed. So, instead they skewed even younger. We think it probably all worked out for the best. Given Stephen Colbert’s “almost Screech” status, we think this should earn Stephen Colbert some kind of guest spot on the Saved by the Bell revival series coming to the upcoming Peacock streaming service. Maybe he can play Screech’s long lost brother, or something equally ridiculous. I think we’re all here for something like that.
Featured Image: NBC Universal / CBS