Actor Dustin Diamond won the hearts of "Saved by the Bell" viewers as Samuel "Screech" Powers, one of the most popular nerds of the '90s. On "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" Diamond discusses his experiences as a child star and the extreme things he did to shed his geeky image in his 20s.
"The hardest thing about being a child star is giving up your childhood," Diamond says. "You don't get a childhood, really. You're a professional and you got to know your lines and rehearse and practice. It was making sure that you were the funniest and the best that you can be because if you weren't funny, you could be replaced."
Diamond played the role of Screech for 12 years and was 23 when the series ended. "I had been working for the last 10 years, every single week," he says. "I felt lost. As I mature I realize, wow, I was kind of going through my rebellious teens in my 20s."
In 2006 at age 29, Diamond released a sex tape called "Screeched."
"The sex tape is the thing that I'm most embarrassed about," Diamond says. He explains the idea came about when he learned Paris Hilton reportedly made $14 million off her sex tape. "And my buddy said, '$14 million? Holy smokes, where's the Screech sex tape? You got to be worth at least a million.' And I thought, 'Yeah -- yeah, maybe.' And that's as simple as it was."
Diamond claims it's not actually his body in the tape.
"And in my stupidity, I thought I could totally fake this. I could get a stunt person to take my place," he says. "It's my face but nothing else. Looking back now in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb."
Did he turn a profit?
"I definitely got some money off of it but it definitely wasn't worth what the fallout was," he says. "People to this day look down on me. There's a lot of people [who think] 'how disgusting of you' -- and I didn't really do it."
In 2009, Diamond released a tell-all book called Behind the Bell. "The book was another disappointment of mine," he says. "I was a first-time author, so they had a ghostwriter. I talked to a guy a few times, so the book has some truth in it -- and a lot of the stories were just kind of throwaways."
Diamond says he was asked if any of the "Saved by the Bell" cast members were doing drugs or sleeping together on set. Diamond says he responded, "Well, what do you think? There was a bunch of kids with hormones, 15, 16 years old."
"That turned into 'factual trash-talking' about everybody -- which really, I have nothing but good thoughts and memories towards everybody," he says. "I expected that I was going to be sent to copy to proofread and [say] 'Okay, thumbs-up or thumbs-down.' And I was sent the copy, 'Oh, this is done.'"
"What?" he remembers thinking. "There's going to be fallout from that!"
Watch the video below to see "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" executive producers Jill Van Lokeren and Julie Simpson talk more about the episode.
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