While attending the 10th Annual Gasparilla International Film Festival, Cigar City Magazine was lucky enough to chat with Mark-Paul Gosselaar at the premiere of his new film, “Precious Cargo”, now available on VOD platforms (including iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play). Although he is most notable for his role as Zack Morris in NBC’s “Saved by the Bell”, he also starred in TNT’s “Raising the Bar” and “Franklin & Bash”.
CCM: Is this your first time in Ybor?
Gosselaar: “In Ybor? I believe so.”
CCM: “So what do you think about it?”
Gosselaar: “I didn’t get to see much. I flew in yesterday morning, slept a little bit and came to the festival.
CCM: You know, Ybor City is kind of known as “Cigar City”, it’s the Cigar capital of the world.
Gosselaar: Is that right? I didn’t know that.
CCM: So towards the beginning of the film (No Spoilers) there was an awesome action set-piece on a boat, did you do your own stunts? Was it an adrenaline rush, were you apprehensive at first?
Gosselaar: “I used to own boats, before I had kids. (Laughs). Because when you own kids, you don’t own anything. I’m an experienced boat driver, I guess you could say. A lot of those scenes were actually of me driving, and given the resources we have on a film like this where we don’t have a lot of time to get the shot, we did switch between me or a stunt driver. I was pretty comfortable doing that, I never felt like I put myself in danger, but there was a couple of shots there where we got a little close.
CCM: It was intense, I mean that scene was about what, 5, 7 minutes long?
Gosselaar: I haven’t seen the entire cut of the film, last night [at the premiere] I was supposed to watch it, but I can’t watch it with a bunch of people. I have to watch it by myself (laughs), like through my hands.
CCM: Yea, well there’s some actors, that don’t even watch some of their films
Gosselaar: I think sometimes it can help, while other times it can discourage you as an actor. As actors, well, I think in any profession you look back at your work and say “oh, I could’ve done that” or “I could’ve played it this way”.
CCM: How was your experience working with the iconic John Mcclaine of Die Hard, A.K.A. Bruce Willis
Gosselaar: It’s everything you’d expect working with an icon like him, (laughs) he’s just the coolest motherfucker ever like my character Jack is the type he’s played in his sleep over the last few decades, in the back of my head I’m wondering if he’s critiquing how well I play “him”. It was fun, he’s a great addition to the film and you know he’s Bruce Willis!
CCM: We heard you’re a big car enthusiast, what kind of cars do you like and do you have any time to work on them with your schedule?
Gosselaar: (Laughs) Having four kids, I’m looking at what mini vans have the best fuel economy. Currently in my life, I’m unable to be the car guy I once was, but yeah our car life now is about fuel efficiency and room.
CCM: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
Gosselaar: Hmm, I don’t know, I would’ve liked to have done something in sports, I’ve always been a huge sports enthusiast, whether it’s football, baseball, but definitely not basketball. I would’ve loved to have been in some professional sports.
CCM: How does working on independent projects compare to mainstream?
Gosselaar: There’s really no difference in my opinion, I think the biggest thing is that you just don’t have the luxury of time. On bigger projects and bigger budgeted films and television you just have more time. When I did a film in ’98 I believe, “Dead Man on Campus”, in-between set-ups we’d have an hour. I’d go back to my trailer and play cards with the guys or whatever. With Precious Cargo, we didn’t have that time. In-between set-ups we had about ten minutes. We just had no time, it’s more intense but the quality can be just as good, there’s no difference. If you have a great script, great actors and filmmakers you can make a great film.
CCM: Earlier, you mentioned cigars, and of course we’re called Cigar City Magazine, so do you smoke cigars?
Gosselaar: I used to be a big cigar smoker, but for me personally I stopped, I’m not sure I wonder why. I could blame it on the kids, maybe, I just don’t have that time at the end of the night to enjoy a cigar. I love the culture of it, I love smoking with men and women, that was sort of my “wine”, collecting cigars. But I think I had just kind of gotten away from it, due to lack of time.
CCM: What was your favorite brand of cigar, do you have a favorite?
Gosselaar: I remember in my first marriage, I had smuggled in some Cuban cigars from Italy, and that’s what I handed out after the ceremony. I like the little shorter, fatter types of cigars.
CCM: Well, I don’t know if you do or don’t know this, but you are in the “backyard” of Arturo Fuente cigars.
Gosselaar: I love Arturo Fuente Cigars!
CCM: Actually, their factory is right here about 4 blocks away!
Gosselaar: Wow! What were those little, small ones…?
CCM: Short Story.
Gosselaar: Short Story! I fucking love Short Stories.
CCM: So was that your favorite?
Gosselaar: Yea, I used to love Short Story, that was the perfect size for me because I felt like I could get through that and finish it and not have to set it down. I used to really be in the cigar culture.
CCM: Well, one thing about the cigar culture is that it really brings people together.
Gosselaar: Yea, I do miss that, I miss going to smoke cigars with my buddies and having a nice scotch in my hand.
CCM: Right, well one thing you mentioned earlier, which I find very interesting since most guys don’t even mention it, but you mentioned you liked smoking cigars with men AND women. So were you around a lot of women when you smoked cigars?
Gosselaar: Oh yeah, I think [women smoking cigars] wasn’t as prevalent as it is now, I think back in the 90s when I was smoking, it wasn’t as big then, but I love seeing it. It’s good for the industry, good for society. That’s why I’m excited about this project I’m working on for FOX, it’s about the first woman to pitch in the majors. She gets called up by the San Diego Padres, I play the pitcher [for the Padres]. I think it’s just another great story to bridge that gap, and she’s also black so bridges that gap between gender and race.
CCM: That’s the next project you’re working on, when does that come out?
Gosselaar: It’s a pilot, so we get picked up in May. I mean you never know with these things, everyone told us it’s a sure thing, but you never know. If it were to come out it’d be in September. We go into production in July.