What You Never Knew About Mario Lopez

In the early '90s, Mario Lopez became a household name for playing A.C. Slater on "Saved by the Bell." And now, 30 years later, he's still charming audiences with his signature dimples and dazzling grin. As one of the hardest-working stars in Hollywood, he has multiple TV gigs and yet continues to take on new projects. Although the self-proclaimed hustler, who married actress Courtney Mazza in 2012, has a lot of responsibilities, he always prioritizes his family, which now includes his three children: Gia, Dominic, and Santino.

The California native and son of Mexican immigrants came from a tough neighborhood, so his family enrolled him in multiple extracurricular activities, which led to his career in the entertainment industry. As the only dancing-wrestling-karate-theater kid around, he started acting when he was just 10 years old (via Starz) and got his big break when he landed the role of Slater at 15. In 2020, he returned to his roots, revisiting the beloved character in the "Saved by the Bell" reboot

And, although it seems we know all there is to learn about the multitalented actor – who doesn't seem to age – there are some things about him that still manage to surprise us. This is what you never knew about Mario Lopez.

He's considered a workaholic because of his multiple jobs

Mario Lopez brings new meaning to the word "overachiever." Nothing better illustrates this than his IMDb page, which is replete with not just acting credits, but a bunch of hosting gigs as well. Although he's currently dedicated to co-hosting "Access Hollywood," he's shared his talents guest co-hosting shows like "The View," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and "The Daytime Emmys." Additionally, he's had cameos in films like "Get Him to the Greek" and TV series such as "Jane the Virgin." And, like many of his fellow former sitcom stars, he also starred in a Christmas movie. He's even pulled his wife, Courtney Mazza, into his side hustles, with the pair co-hosting the radio show "On with Mario Lopez" together and even launching a shoe line (via Page Six)!

So, when the New York Post compiled its list of workaholics in Hollywood, it's not surprising that Lopez made the list — nor is it a shock then that his hard work has resulted in a pretty impressive net worth. His hustler mentality began at a young age, something he attributes to his humble beginnings. "Even as a kid growing up in this business, I knew everything was a temp job," he told the Post. "So I approach everything with guarded optimism, wanting to do as much as I can."

His first marriage ended after just two weeks

Mario Lopez got hitched to actress and model Ali Landry, known as the "Doritos Girl" in a Super Bowl commercial. The pair met at the Miss Universe competition in 1998, where Landry, who was crowned Miss USA in 1996, commentated and Lopez hosted (via Yahoo!). They dated for six years before tying the knot in 2004. In his memoir, "Just Between Us," Lopez explained that he initially fell for Landry because she met all of the criteria he had for a future wife and mother of his children (via Yahoo!). "She was Catholic, very driven, ambitious, hardworking," he said, "but also charming and innocent at the same time."

But their wedded bliss was cut short two weeks later after Landry learned of Lopez's infidelities. In an interview with Howard Stern, Lopez detailed his wrongdoings during his bachelor party — which all came to a head when incriminating photos surfaced of him with another woman. In his book, he further detailed his slip-up. "I got inebriated and a little too friendly with a young lady" (via People). "When it was time to return home, lightning hit me with the truth: I wasn't in love. But I walked down the aisle [anyway]." 

In an interview with Wendy Williams, Landry explained that she knew something was amiss before their wedding but still went through with the nuptials. The last straw came when she tapped her new husband's phone and found calls from various women.

Mario Lopez met his wife performing in a Broadway show together

Although Mario Lopez spent most of his professional life on set, he met his wife on stage. In 2008, he first laid eyes on Courtney Mazza backstage at "A Chorus Line," the Broadway show they starred in together. Lopez was immediately smitten with her looks, and once he saw her perform, his interest was piqued even more. However, the beginning of their relationship was pretty one-sided. "She was ... not giving me any love at all for like a couple of months," he said. "So of course it made me want to go out with her more." 

Since Mazza was based in New York, and Lopez was slated to move back to Los Angeles after his theater stint, the pair didn't think their relationship would "go anywhere." However, they surprised themselves by continuing to date long distance. Since she only had Mondays off, Mazza would fly out to see Lopez after her Sunday show and return home on Tuesday. After that back-and-forth, he invited her to move in, and the rest is history. The lovebirds welcomed their first child, Gia, in 2010, married in 2012, and then added two sons to their brood: Dominic in 2013 and Santino in 2019. Lopez is not opposed to growing his family even further and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, told Us Weekly, "If we don't get a quarantine baby out of this, I'm going to be surprised."

Besides being a successful actor and host, he's also a bestselling author

Mario Lopez added prolific writer to his resume of media industry work. The actor-turned-writer has penned a total of six books. His first, "Knockout Fitness: The Six-Week Plan for Sculpting Your Best Body Ever," released in 2008, is aptly named, given the abs we've seen from his days on "Saved by the Bell" to the shirtless video he posted on Instagram on his 48th birthday.

In September 2014, almost a year after he turned 40, he debuted his memoir, "Just Between Us," where he divulged "never-before-told" stories from his career, including glimpses into his romantic life. "I started having sex so young. The day before my 13th birthday," he told People in an interview promoting the tell-all. "But you've got to understand, when you're growing up in the hood, everybody grows up fast."

The health and fitness guru also published "Extra Lean" and "Extra Lean Family," which coach readers on how to burn fat and change their eating habits. In addition, he's authored two kids' books: "Mud Tacos" and "Mario and Baby Gia."

The star is not opposed to bringing cameras into his home

Mario Lopez is opening the door — no pun attended — to the idea of a reality show featuring his family. The doting husband and father is no stranger to filming his personal life, and, in 2010, starred in "Mario Lopez: Saved by The Baby," which chronicles his journey into first-time fatherhood. The series lasted for one season, with Episode 1 beginning with his and then-girlfriend-now-wife Courtney Mazza being three months away from their due date and the last episode celebrating the birth of Gia. In fact, Variety reported that the couple purchased a new home in Glendale, California, for a whopping $1.9 million just in time for filming. The not-so-humble abode's amenities include an indoor gym, pool, and multiple playrooms (via Closer Weekly).

Although the Daily News called the short-lived program "a dull snooze," Lopez welcomes the possibility of another reality show. "It'd be kind of fun to do something with the kids, where maybe they're more of the focus," he told Page Six. "There might be something in the works a little later on, but we never say 'no' to anything."

He dated his Saved by the Bell co-star IRL

Although on "Saved by the Bell," it was Jessie Spano who captured A.C. Slater's heart, IRL Mario Lopez dated Tiffani Thiessen, who played Kelly Kapowski. In an interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," he revealed that it wasn't just a hookup but an actual relationship. "It's funny, 'cause I went to regular high school and she used to wear my letterman's jacket from my real high school and stuff," he said. In an interview with Us Weekly, the show's executive producer, Peter Engel, spilled the beans on what really went down off-camera. He revealed that they split after Thiessen caught Lopez making out with an extra in his dressing room and, enraged, threw the aforementioned letterman jacket at him.

However, the former sweethearts were able to put the past behind them. "But now, she's my dear friend and it's funny 'cause our kids actually play together," Lopez continued. The two are such good pals that Lopez and Courtney Mazza were eating dinner at Thiessen's house the night Mazza gave birth. "I had made dinner for all of them and sweet Courtney was very pregnant," the sitcom alum told People. "So I claim that my meal is actually the one that actually got her to go into labor."

Mario Lopez thinks he was robbed of a Dancing with the Stars' trophy

In Season 3 of "Dancing with the Stars," Mario Lopez wowed audiences by earning the first perfect score of the 2006 competition for his flawless tango. In the end, it came down to him and ex-Dallas Cowboys player Emmitt Smith, with the pro-footballer ultimately taking home the coveted Mirrorball trophy. Lopez's loss goes down in the show's history as one of the most controversial, and the actor-turned-dancer himself agreed. "I figure if this was truly a dance competition they would have voted for the better dancer," he told the New York Post at the time (via Insider). 

The "DWTS" alum seems to have lost interest in the series, because when producers approached him about returning, he declined the offer. "I don't watch the show and didn't even watch when I was on it. My mom wanted me to do it," he told TV Guide (via CBS News). As for his partner, Karina Smirnoff, the pair hit it off so well they actually went on to date for two years, even moving in together, but they called it quits because of Lopez's infidelity (via PopSugar).

The entertainer's first kiss was with singer Fergie

Before his "Saved by the Bell" fame, Mario Lopez honed his chops as an entertainer on "Kids Incorporated," the Nickelodeon children's series in which he starred from 1984 to 1986. In fact, he provided fans with a throwback Instagram photo of him dancing on the show. Besides brushing up on his acting and dancing abilities on the program, he was also practicing another skill. 

It was on that set that the actor had his first kiss, lip locking with castmate Stacy Ferguson, who went on to become the songstress Fergie. "I'm very proud of my first kiss," Lopez told People. "I was very smooth at 10 because I bought her perfume. I think the gesture was pretty good for a kid."

So, was their first smooch "Clumsy" or "Fergalicious?" When the singer was asked about it on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," she gushed that Lopez had "beautiful, soft lips," rating it a 10. However, she did playfully confess that she wasn't the only one he had eyes for in the cast. "He was a player ... he's got that Latin lover thing," she said.

The multitalented star is also a martial artist, boxer, and wrestler

When he's not entertaining audiences on screen, Mario Lopez is at the gym engaging in combat sports. He began participating in wrestling competitions at a young age, as evidenced by the throwback photo he posted on Instagram. He went on to wrestle for his high school's team, becoming a place winner back then and, in 2009, was recognized by the California chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his accomplishments. While interviewing WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler on his podcast, Lopez revealed that the pro-wrestling organization wants to get him on board. "They're trying to get me to do something in the ring," he revealed. "For my kids, I think I wanna do it, get in there as a storyline," he continued.

In addition to wrestling, Lopez also enjoys boxing — which took a backseat while he focused on wrestling and acting — and resumed the sport in his early 20s. "I needed an outlet," he explained to Hayabusa. "I've always loved one-on-one sort of contact." The natural athlete, who holds a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, also has a penchant for martial arts, something he enjoys taking part in with his kids. "I love the community and everything that it's about and that I get to do it with my kids," he told Men's Health.

His Saved by the Bell character was based off his real life persona

At 15, Mario Lopez auditioned for "Saved by the Bell," which debuted in 1989, to play one of its leads, A.C. Slater. According to the teen heartthrob, Slater was supposed to be Italian, not Latino. "Like Vinnie Barbarino in 'Welcome Back, Kotter,' a John Travolta role, more of a street kid," he explained to GQ. Executive producer Peter Engel reiterated this fact, telling Us Weekly that because he had a difficult time casting the part, he realized he should open it up to other races. He went on to explain that, two days later, Lopez "blew everyone out of the water."

On "The Kelly Clarkson Show," Lopez dished that his character was never intended to be an athlete, dancer, or musician — Slater's diverse hobbies were only developed, in fact, after Lopez was cast in the role and the young actor's many talents were realized. When he wasn't filming (for which he got paid $3,500 per episode, per GQ), the talented young actor attended Chula Vista High School. And, although he did not go on to attend college (via GQ), he wants his children to do so. "I'd like my kids to go further in their education than I did," he told USA Today.

Mario Lopez did not automatically green-light the Saved by the Bell reboot

Mario Lopez never thought there would be a "Saved by the Bell" reboot. But, like many '90s sitcoms, it returned, giving the actor yet another TV gig. In Season 1, some of the original cast members were reintroduced, including A.C. Slater, now a gym teacher at Bayside High. Lopez, who had just turned 47 when the show premiered in 2020, did not automatically green-light the project. The actor "didn't want to go into it, because there were other versions pitched, I wasn't necessarily a fan," he told USA Today. However, when he heard executive producer Tracey Wigfield's vision for the show, he was sold. He also changed his perspective after seeing "Cobra Kai," a reboot of "The Karate Kid." "So [I said], if we can emulate that, then I'm down," he explained to GQ.

Now, 30 years later, the character of Slater has evolved and is seen speaking about toxic masculinity and apologizing to ex-girlfriend Jesse for how he treated her in high school. IRL, the on-screen love interests, whose characters rekindle their romance in Season 2, have a close friendship. In an interview with Today, Lopez revealed that, out of the OG cast, he communicates with Elizabeth Berkley the most. "I love her. She's a sweetheart," he said.

And he knows his way around a kitchen

A lot of the magic in the Lopez-Mazza household happens in the kitchen. Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza took time to painstakingly renovate the heart of their home, even giving fans a tour of the sprawling space. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lopez explained the basis of his devotion to the room. "I'm a serious, passionate foodie. Especially with my culture," he explained. "We celebrate, mourn and vacation with everything centered around food." He went on to say that his wife, Mazza, who is of Italian descent, also cooks homemade food inspired by her ethnicity.

Lopez is such a food connoisseur, in fact, that he launched "Dads in the Kitchen" on his YouTube channel, where he executes recipes for dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken picatta with busy fathers in mind. He even opened up Mario's Tortas Lopez, a virtual, delivery-only Mexican restaurant, which he spoke about in an interview with Mashed.

Mario Lopez attends church regularly

Mario Lopez stands out in the entertainment industry for speaking openly about his religion. He is a practicing Catholic who goes to church weekly (via GQ), and if he doesn't get to attend, always makes sure to light a candle at another church later that day or week (via Fox News Latino).

He's documented his pilgrimage to the Holy Land (via Twitter), made it known he wants a selfie with Pope Francis, and talks about how he prays with his family before every meal (via the Los Angeles Times). "It's nice to have something that is consistent in our life — family and faith is that for me," he told Fox News Latino. The TV veteran knows these outward expressions of faith are not common amongst his peers. In an interview on "The Lucas Miles Show," he said, "[Faith] is alive in me. It's not really as prevalent [in Hollywood] as I think it should be."

He's a proud first-generation Mexican American

Growing up, Mario Lopez recognized there weren't many people who looked like him on TV. "Unfortunately there weren't too many visually onscreen for me to look up to, other than Desi Arnaz or Ricardo Montalbán," he told SF Weekly. He went on to say that there are many more Latins represented in Hollywood now — and more women, like his close friend Eva Longoria as well as Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergara. 

A first-generation Mexican American whose parents immigrated to Chula Vista, California (which borders Tijuana, Mexico), Lopez has a lot of pride for his ethnicity. "I think being Latino is a beautiful thing all the way around," he gushed to SF Weekly. "The people are warm, they're hardworking, they're proud, they embrace their culture, they're about family, faith — and I celebrate all of those things." In fact, he has such affection for Mexico that he chose the beautiful country to both propose to and tie the knot with his wife!