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Shanola Hampton ‘Instantly Loved’ Mark-Paul Gosselaar — After He Clarified Preferred Nickname (Exclusive)

Shanola Hampton and Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s Found characters have an intense chemistry, quickly translating into an offscreen friendship for the actors.

“When I first met Mark-Paul, I found his demeanor to be shockingly arrogant [and] just really not approachable,” Hampton, 46, sarcastically told Us Weekly on Wednesday, November 29. “No, he is the warmest [and] and you know what I really instantly loved? After he told me to make sure I called him ‘Mark-Paul’ or MP’?”

Gosselaar, 49, quickly interrupted, telling Hampton that her account was not quite accurate because “[she] asked” first.

“You said [it] with an attitude. We’ve had this conversation before,” Hampton quipped to her costar. “He had to say, ‘Call me Mark Paul. So for anyone out there, I just want to be clear, whenever you speak to me.’”

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The Saved by the Bell alum shot back that it’s fine for his costars to “call [him] what you want” and that he will respond to “almost anything.”

“I didn’t get ‘Call me which one?’ I got ‘Call me Mark-Paul,’” Hampton added before Gosselaar reiterated that she had asked about a preferred nickname first. She continued, “Can I just [say] that I even correct people for him? But that’s fine. Call him whatever you want. He’s Mike [then].”

Different recollections aside, Hampton couldn’t help but sing Gosselaar’s praises.

Shanola Hampton Felt Instantly Loved by Mark Paul Gosselaar After He Clarified Preferred Nickname
Shanola Hampton and Mark Paul Gosselaar Araya Doheny/Getty Images for The Art of Elysium

“I love that he’s a family man. He’s been in this business for such a long time and he has no arrogance about him at all,” she gushed. “And really what he cares about is his family. And that’s how I am. I’m Southern [and] it’s family first. Instantly, we were like, ‘Oh, these are my people. This is my tribe’ because his energy, his vibe is all about the love for family.”

Hampton, however, is unable to label Gosselaar as her “best friend” since that honor belongs to her Shameless TV husband, Steve Howey.

“I mean I can’t call him my best friend [because] then Steve Howey will get mad, but you can be my dude,” she joked.

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Gosselaar, for his part, was “totally fine” with that arrangement. “Steve has to pick up the phone every time she calls. I can kind of just be like, ‘I’ll call her back, send her a message,’ because we’re not besties,” he jokingly added. “I’m OK with this. I’m alright with that relationship.”

For Gosselaar, their onscreen chemistry was effortless once he also realized that they have the “same interests” and family priorities.

Shanola Hampton Felt Instantly Loved by Mark Paul Gosselaar After He Clarified Preferred Nickname
Shanola Hampton and Mark-Paul Gosselaar Rob Kim/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust

“It just makes it that much easier to connect. And then once we’re on set and you realize, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s a kindred spirit, we have so much in common,’ it comes off onscreen,” the actor said on Wednesday. “A lot of the stuff that we do onscreen is very fluid and very organic and it really happens when the cameras are on.”

Hampton stars on Found as Gabi Mosely, a recovery specialist, who is dedicated to finding “America’s missing and forgotten people,” per a network summary. To help crack cases, Gabi secretly turns to her childhood kidnapper (Gosselaar), who has been locked in her basement for seven months.

“It comes very quickly and it’s just magic,” Gosselaar gushed, noting the duo often nails their scenes in less than four takes. “We have this very fluid relationship onscreen.”

Found airs Tuesdays on NBC at 10 p.m. ET.

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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