Even though Mark-Paul Gosselaar has been in the business from a young age, he feels like he's still evolving in his career, especially in his most recent role on NBC's new series Found, which premiered on October 3. "I was asked by the showrunner to read the script and see if I responded to it. It was a complex character and very challenging. We had a brief conservation about where the show would go and my role, and then I signed on. This was something I hadn't played on screen," the 49-year-old exclusively tells OK!. "I don't think I ever take a role if I wasn't completely committed to seeing it succeed and wanting the show to move forward."
The series focuses on Gabi Mosely, played by Shanola Hampton, and her team finding America's missing people forgotten by the media — except she has her own childhood kidnapper locked in her basement, played by Gosselaar. "My scenes are mostly all with Shanola, and she's an amazing partner to work with. The stories are fulfilling and intricate and complex and it continues to be a challenge every week," he says. "That's something as an actor that you're always looking for is that you don't get bored with the role. In this business, there isn't a formula when a show becomes successful."
"Every script we get becomes more of a challenge because it builds on top of the foundation we've already built," he adds. "I don't watch a lot of my work, but I happened to catch a clip where Sir asked Gabi to pronounce her love for me, and it was an intimate scene. It was Sir manipulating to say I love her. I was like, 'That turned out pretty good.' I was happy about that."
Fortunately, Hampton and Gosselaar got along right from the start. "She's a beacon of energy and light and keeps things light because we're dealing with such heavy topics. For her to come in with this energy is almost like opening a curtain in a stuffy room — and generally, that's the way the set feels. It's smoky and dark. Shanola adds light to it, and then the minute the cameras are rolling, she's on and performing and giving you everything you need."
The actor, who "always" takes time to research his roles, looked to Ted Bundy "because he was a charismatic sort of disarming monster," he explains. "I asked our showrunner if there was anyone she thought I could draw from, and he was the closest thing to Sir. He was an intellectual guy and would strike up normal conversations with people and sort of disarmed him. His charm is what opened the door for him."
Over the years, the Saved by the Bell alum has been on all different types of shows — mixed-ish, Pitch, The Passage and more. "I just have to go with things that appeal to me and then just hope the show lasts," he shares. "Some of the previous shows I've been on have dissolved before I felt they were ready to go."
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However, the NYPD Blue alum, who is married to Catriona McGinn, feels "very fortunate" to not be boxed in at this point in his career. "I feel like I am always playing a character. I think the closest I've played to myself is when I was on NYPD Blue — that detective was very close to how I think I would have been as a detective," he says. "I am fortunate to be playing characters on television and it keeps it interesting for me, and I feel blessed and fortunate I am No. 1 on the call sheet and still doing something I enjoy."
Going forward, the California native would love to star in a sci-fi type show. "I enjoyed my time on The Passage where I played an FBI agent or playing a superhero or doing a period place. There's a lot of things I haven't done yet," he says. "I still feel like I am scratching the surface in my career. I've had a good career and been in the business a long time, but I still want to do more. I want to keep going."
New episodes of Found air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.