Spending time in public with Franklin & Bash stars Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar can get a little surreal. (Picture an internal monologue that goes something like this: "Hold on. Is that Travis from Clueless and Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell... bowling together? Did the 13-year-old me dream this up?") Yet the bizarre-world pairing works on TNT's dramedy about two wisecracking, unconventional lawyer pals who court controversy at their new firm. During an afternoon at NYC's Lucky Strike Lanes, the duo made it clear that their mutual man-crush isn't just for the cameras.
TV Guide Magazine: Be honest: Are Jared Franklin (Meyer) and Peter Bash (Gosselaar) really just you guys with different names attached?
Gosselaar: They're broader extensions of us.
Meyer: Our characters have a lot more moxie than we do — they're ballsier.
TV Guide Magazine: These two are a break from the straight man—funny guy dynamic we see so often on TV. How come?
Meyer: That odd-couple relationship was the last thing we wanted. When you're friends with someone, you finish each other's sentences. We wanted fleshed-out characters, not just, "I'm the wacky guy in court, he's the heartthrob."
Gosselaar: I wouldn't mind being the heartthrob!
TV Guide Magazine: Who was cast first?
Gosselaar: I had the script first, and there was another actor who was interested in playing Franklin. I wasn't really sold that he'd be able to pull it off. He was a bit younger.
Meyer: He was Joe Jonas.
Gosselaar: Bieber, actually. And then when Breckin's name came up, I said, "If we can get him, I'm on board."
TV Guide Magazine: Was it instant love?
Meyer: We've had a crash course in friendship — in the beginning we'd meet for breakfast after dropping off our kids [Meyer has daughter Keaton, 7, with wife Deborah; Gosselaar has son Michael, 7, and daughter Ava, 5, with ex-wife Lisa Ann Russell]. We've only done 10 episodes, and we've already vacationed twice together. We share a similar work ethic, too.
Gosselaar: We're not the guys that you will catch on TMZ.
Meyer: We'll be there — you just won't catch us!
TV Guide Magazine: Were you fans of each other's work before this?
Gosselaar: I still to this day have not seen Road Trip.
Meyer: I'm still offended!
Gosselaar: I've heard it's funny. Do you want me to buy the DVD, or can I Netflix it?
Meyer: Millions of people saw it! I knew Saved by the Bell, obviously, and everything Mark-Paul's done except [1996 made-for-TV movie] She Cried No.
TV Guide Magazine: How do you explain the public's enduring fascination with Saved by the Bell? It's been off the air for 18 years!
Gosselaar: It's like comfort food. A lot of people grew up watching it after school or on Saturday mornings. It finds a new generation every few years.
TV Guide Magazine: Have your kids seen it?
Gosselaar: My son has seen parts, but he would rather watch something way more edgy, like iCarly.
TV Guide Magazine: What about Zack's infamous "brick" cellphone?
Gosselaar: My son would probably be like, "What's that? Why are you carrying a ship-to-shore?"
Meyer: "Why are you in Vietnam?!"
TV Guide Magazine: Breckin, you went to Beverly Hills High — aka the real 90210....
Meyer: Yes, but I didn't live in Beverly Hills — I lied about my address to get in, because my local public school was the kind where I would have been stuck in a locker all day. I admitted that on Leno once, and I got a call from the school afterward saying, "Can you not talk about that?"
TV Guide Magazine: How'd you both manage to avoid the curse of child stardom?
Gosselaar: I don't know if we would have had the same outcome if there were camera phones and Tweeting back then. I was up to no good when I was 16 — because at 16, everyone is up to no good.
TV Guide Magazine: Does being pop-culture staples for so long make for some weird interactions with fans?
Meyer: People are usually very nice — it's rare that someone will take their time to cross the street and tell you to go f--- yourself. There was one guy who came up to me, almost in tears, and said that when he saw Travis join the 12-step program in Clueless, that's when he decided to get sober. I thought, "Wow, that is amazing." And then a part of me felt bad because I thought, "Really? That's what you took away from Clueless?
Gosselaar: The worst I've heard is that somebody tattooed my face — as the character of Zack Morris — on their calf. And it's a guy, which is even worse. I don't know if it's a compliment to me or if it's "You're f---ing crazy to have a character tattooed on your leg."
Meyer: It's a little of both.
Franklin & Bash airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on TNT.