Tommy Garcia / FOX
Mark-Paul Gosselaar certainly doesn't look like Zack Morris anymore and that's on purpose. The Saved By the Bell veteran looks unrecognizable thanks to Pitch, his new Fox drama about the first female pitcher in Major League Baseball. He's bearded and beefy, all for the role.
"I'll keep that a secret because insurance, because I may not qualify for life insurance," Gosselaar told reporters at the 2016 TCA Summer Press Tour when asked how much weight he put on. "They always ask you oh have you gained or lost five pounds in a year and I'm like, ‘Five pounds? I lose that in a week! I gain it in a week.' It was substantial. It's not too often that you walk into a casting room and the creator of the show says, ‘I'd like to have you to play a character.' A lot of times in television they'll have you come in and there's a character on the page, but they're really buying yourself."
Gosselaar spent his formative years growing up as as Zack Morris on Saved By the Bell.
"I've been in the industry for a while and I do have something that follows me. Dan [Fogelman, creator] was really the first to say I want to break that. I don't want people to recognize you right away…that's the beard…My wife hates it. She says I didn't buy you with a beard. ‘I want the model without the beard,'" he said. "We have four children and I think it'll remain at four children, let me put it that way. It's a home-grown contraceptive. Dan, going back to the point of the beard …he said you need to gain weight to be believable as a catcher. These guys run 200 and above and so that's where we are."
In Pitch, Gosselaar plays Mike Lawson, the catcher of the San Diego Padres. Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, the rookie pitcher. The feeling of being the rookie and wanting to impress the team is one he said he's very familiar.
"I think I've walked onto set every time like that, I'm going to be honest with you. I understand the anxiety that comes with it," he said. "The need to succeed, to make everyone believe that you belong there. Those are things that I still struggle with to this day when I walk onto a set…"
He's been in the industry since 1986 and following Saved By the Bell starred in numerous projects including Franklin and Bash, but Pitch is the defining career highlight he said. "This is the biggest thing I've ever been a part of," he said.
Pitch premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. on Fox.