This post is Part One of a one-part series of discussions between Mario Lopez and Nik Daum on the Afghanistan conflict, keeping in shape, and life after Bayside. For my past interviews, find them in the writing category.
Nik: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Mario Lopez.
Mario: No problem, man.
Nik: So what’s on your mind these days?
Mario: Not much. I just wrapped filming The Dog Who Saved Christmas, so I’m taking some time to myself.
Nik: Care to share anything juicy on the new movie?
Mario: Well, its got a really strong cast: Dean Cain, Elisa Donovan, Adrienne Barbeau, Tino Struckmann—it was a great group to work with. Michael Feifer’s vision for the whole thing was really inspiring. Trust me, he makes sure that you really root for everyone, especially the dog that saves Christmas.
Nik: It says that you play “Zeus” in movie. Is this the same Zeus that punished Hera by having her hung upside down from the sky when she attempted to drown Heracles in a storm?
Mario: Um, I don’t think so. I play Zeus, the dog.
Nik: Did you know that Zeus the god’s favorite tree was an oak? For him it was a symbol of strength. What is your favorite tree, Mario Lopez?
Mario: I’ve never really thought of that before…I guess it would be a palm tree.
Nik: Do you think you like palm trees so much because you were born in San Diego? They must have a lot of them down there, even though they’re not native.
Mario: Haha, maybe so!
Nik: So… “Lopez” is a Mexican last name?
Mario: Yes. Both of my parents are from Culiacán, Mexico.
Nik: Are you by chance related to George Lopez?
Mario: No, but I do have an uncle named George!
Nik: Is he funny at all?
Mario: Well to us he is. Not as funny as the comedian though.
Nik: I don’t actually care for George Lopez’s style of humor very much. I’m more of a Demetri Martin or Patton Oswalt type of guy.
Mario: Never heard of them.
Nik: So Mario, what are your thoughts on the Afghanistan conflict? The situation over there is looking worse even after years of our involvement.
Mario: True. The number of insurgent attacks is up. We’re sending over more troops. The Taliban is a very aggressive enemy, and it’s proving difficult to stop their momentum and focus on protecting and safeguarding the Afghan civilians.
Nik: Do you think the country is at risk of becoming a “failed state” as some fear?
Mario: Well, it’s definitely possible. Afghanistan is burdened by increased Taliban violence, growing illegal drug production, and fragile state institutions. The international forces within Afghanistan have not been able to hold territory they have cleared because of the lack of troops. The mission is hampered by a lack of agreement on objectives, a lack of resources, lack of coordination, too much focus on the central government at the expense of local and provincial governments, and too much focus on Afghanistan instead of the region.
Nik: Do you think you have so much interest in the military because your father was a Major in the army? Do you remember when you almost had to move away from Bayside because he was going to get stationed somewhere else? It must have been tough having to move around some much as a child.
Mario: That wasn’t my real dad.
Nik: I don’t remember reading about you being adopted.
Mario: “Martin Slater” was just a character.
Nik: He sure was! Speaking of characters, what ever happened to Screech? Do you ever keep up with your old pals from Bayside?
Mario: Not really. I spoke to Mark Paul a few years ago at some fundraiser.
Mario: Zack Morris.
Nik: Did he still have that enormous cell phone, or has he finally gotten one of those hip new Razrs everyone is talking about?
Mario: I don’t know, man. I didn’t see his phone.
Nik: No worries. So Mario, one of the things that has been your claim to fame over the years is your chiseled physique. Any tips on how you stay in such great shape?
Mario: No secret really, just a good diet, exercise, and lifting weights.
Nik: There’s not some kind of wonder pill that you take so you can eat whatever you like and not exercise?
Mario: Nope. That kind of pill doesn’t exist.
Mario: For me, staying in such good shape is part of my livelihood. Unfortunately it’s not just enough to be a good actor, you have to look good too. I think of it like a job requirement.
Nik: Kind of like having to do time sheets?
Nik: I think I’d rather do time sheets than exercise.
Mario: Not me. I love to exercise.
Nik: Good for you. So you’re sure a person like you isn’t just lucky and has good genes, making it unfairly easy for him to get ripped muscles and tight abs?
Mario: Maybe genes are a part of it, but I think a good body is possible for anyone. They just have to make it a goal.
Nik: I guess so. So what do you enjoy more: dancing with the stars or hosting shows like Miss Teen USA?
Mario: I like them both. They are both great challenges in their own ways.
Nik: Did you get to go back stage during the Miss Teen USA shows? Anywhere near the dressing rooms or anything?
Mario: The dressing rooms were in a totally different area than my lounge.
Nik: I see. So, I’ve read on the internet that you admit to enjoying an occasional cigar?
Nik: Did you, Dick Clark, and Danny Bonaduce ever smoke cigars together while working on The Better Half?
Mario: The Other Half, you mean?
Nik: Oops, yes. When you guys were working on that show, did you know about The View at all? To me it seemed like such a blatant rip.
Mario: Well, why not? Every network was try to cash in on that format back then. Our show was a unique peek into the minds, mentalities, and secrets of men for the benefit of women. Too bad it wasn’t the hit we hoped for.
Nik: I can’t begin to see why, you guys had such chemistry up there. Much more so than those rich, whiny old hens on The View.
Mario: Haha, Totally. But you can’t fight ratings.
Nik: You sure can’t. Well Mario Lopez, it has been great talking to you today. Any closing words?
Mario: This holiday, be sure to check out The Dog Who Saved Christmas.
Nik: Thanks again. Be sure to check out Mario Lopez this holiday in The Dog Who Saved Christmas.
Mario Lopez is a television star known for his role as A.C. Slater on Saved By The Bell, as well as a popular prime time television host.
Nik Daum is eating a candy bar.