Mark-Paul Gosselaar is opening up about the death of his former Saved by the Bell co-star, Dustin Diamond.
Diamond passed away on Monday after a short battle with Stage 4 lung cancer at just 44.
The sad news came just three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
“Well, it’s always tough when someone passes away. I think it’s even more so when the individual is someone you know and the age of Dustin,” he told host Tamron Hall on Tuesday’s episode.
“It was only a few weeks ago that we heard about his diagnosis and for it to happen so quickly is shocking.”
Gosselaar said that he and Saved by the Bell cast will likely “get together at some point and sort of express our feelings.”
“But yeah, it happened so quickly that we’re all just pretty shocked about it,” he continued.
Gosselaar opened up during the interview about how the cast has drifted apart over the years.
“A lot of people may not understand that you can work with somebody for years — you can be very close, you see this person every day for an entire season of shooting and then once things wrap, the camera stops, you just drift apart,” he said.
“There’s no reason other than just things happen in life and before you know it, years have passed and I think that was what happened with Dustin with the rest of the cast,” Gosselaar explained.
“There was a time when I wasn’t talking with anybody on the cast.”
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dustin Diamond, a true comedic genius. My sincere condolences to his family and friends,” Gosselaar wrote on Twitter when the sad news of Diamond’s death broke on Monday.
“Looking back at our time working together, I will miss those raw, brilliant sparks that only he was able to produce. A pie in your face, my comrade.”
On Monday, fellow Saved by the Bell costar Tiffani Thiessen shared a tribute to her Instagram page, writing, “I am deeply saddened by the news of my old co-star @realdustindiamond passing. Life is extremely fragile and it’s something we should never take for granted. God speed Dustin.”
Added Elizabeth Berkley on her page: “I’m grateful to have gotten to create with Dustin when we were at the beginning of our dreams coming true. I will hold onto those sweet memories and the laughs we shared. Rest In Peace.”
Mario Lopez paid tribute to Diamond on Access Hollywood later that day.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my friend and Saved by the Bell costar passed away this morning.”
He added, “He was like a little brother to me and we always remained in contact over the years. I actually spoke with him a couple weeks ago after he got his diagnosis.”
“Even then, he was full of energy and he was optimistic. Life is just so fragile and not to be taken for granted. Our prayers are with Dustin’s family and his friends.”
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.