|| In the early to mid-1990s, actor Sasha Mitchell dominated the minds of teenage television viewers across the United States. As the wisecracking and dimwitted Cody Lambert on STEP BY STEP, Mitchell took stupidity to a new level, while also catching the eye of many female followers. Unfortunately for them, Mitchell was married at the time, which turned into quite the fiasco in itself. I had the lucky opportunity to sit down with Sasha at his agency, where his agent was hard at work trying to find him a spot as an audience member in an infomercial.
Jarmell: So, Code-Man, whatís up, dudesy?
Sasha: Please, no more of the Cody lingo. Iíve heard enough of it since 1992.
JJ: But, come now, that was the character that really put you on the map.
SM: I know, and I am thankful for the producers for the opportunity to work on that show, but it was like the devil in disguise. People recognize you, and they expect you to say stupid things like I did on that show like ďDudeĒ and ďGnarlyĒ and ďWoah.Ē I felt like Keanu Reeves.
JJ: Thatís eerie. Particularly since both you and Keanuís acting abilities are very similar! So, did you feel like you suffered from what many in the business like to call either Urkel Syndrome or Jaleel White-itis?
SM: Yeah, I talked to Jaleel once, and we both bonded over how we had really been typecast. But, Jaleel was a smart guy. He milked that show for as much as it was worth, and walked out of there making a cool $100,000 an episode by the last season, so I was glad for him.
JJ: So, really, why such negative feelings about such a loveable character as Cody?
SM: Itís not really negative feelings per say. I just want to shed that image, and it is difficult to do that. I want to challenge myself and take on more serious roles as I did earlier in my career.
JJ: Ahh, so when you were in the Kickboxer movies?
JJ: Or how about that update of The Parent Trap that you did with the girl who would become Tori on Saved by the Bell and her twin sister?
SM: Yeah, I remember that. See, that was just a fun role. I wasnít heckled for it or really remembered for it. I did my job, got paid, and got out.
JJ: How was it like to work with Tori?
SM: By the way, her name is Leanna Creel, not Tori. Iíve noticed that you have a tendency to label people by character names rather than real names.
JJ: What makes you say that?
SM: Youíve been calling me ďThe Code-ManĒ ever since we shook hands. You even referred to me as that when you talked to my agent! Anyway, working with Leanna was cool. No different than anyone else. Professional and easy going. I was glad to see she got a chance on a hit show like Saved by the Bell.
JJ: Now, it is time to dispel all the rumors, Code-a-Rama. You are known to most people now as a wife beater. Explain before I hurt you.
SM: Iíve explained this many times before. Unfortunately, my ex-wife was taking certain things which I will not say that were having an effect on her. She let out her frustration and violence against both myself and our children. I was concerned about the safety of my children, so I restrained her in a way that was deemed spousal abuse. However, in lieu of my ex-wifeís actions, I did not have to stand trial.
JJ: Hmm, that was quite a boring story, except for the fact that you said you have children. I thought the Code-Man was a virgin!
SM: Please, stop calling me Code-Man. Itís just a character. The character was a virgin. He saved Karen from being ripped apart by dirty men who were calling her a virgin. Okay?
JJ: That show was obsessed with virginity and keeping oneís chastity. Why?
SM: I donít know. Probably because it was on at 8:30 on Friday nights to an 8 to 14 year old crowd, and we wouldnít want them to be out gallivanting around and losing their virginity too early, now would we?
JJ: And, of course, as we all know, such decisive action by Step by Step helped curb the pregnancy rates among teens during the 1990s. Unfortunately, they curbed upwards as teens were probably so bored by your show that they just started having sex during it.
SM: I havenít seen those statistics.
JJ: Well, after the unfortunate incident with your wife, you were fired by the show and replaced with a French character named Jean-Luc, who was played by Bronson Pinchot, who I happened to interview for this paper a few years ago. How did you feel about that?
SM: Well, I was mad about being fired at the time, but it was probably a good thing all in all. I needed to get my family life in order, and it was best for me to step away from the limelight of TGIF. As for Bronson, his character did not have the steam or popularity that came with Cody. Plus, the show was on the decline and headed to CBS when he arrived. Itís not his fault, really. I think heís a seasoned actor.
JJ: Indeed! And heís tossing out such fine seasonings on the current season of The Surreal Life. If the producers behind that show were to give you a call, would you accept?
SM: It depends on how I would feel. If the money was right and it just felt right, I would go for it. I feel bad for Bronson, though. In a house with Omarosa and Janice Dickinson. That must have been hell.
JJ: Tell me about it. Almost as bad as a house with Suzanne Somers and Patrick Duffy. Speaking of Suzanne Somers, did you happen to see her one-woman show on Broadway, The Blonde in the Thunderbird?
SM: I have not, but judging by the review I read in The New Yorker, it was paraphrased as self-absorbed with boring musical numbers. So, sounds a lot like Suzanne!
JJ: One final question: Would you be willing to do a Step by Step reunion movie?
SM: I donít know. I donít think the show was really good enough to make a reunion movie out of. The Growing Pains cast are really milking that type of thing. But, I donít know. It would be nice to see everyone from the cast again, but most of them seem to have left the world of acting as a whole.
JJ: Much like you. Is there anything else youíd like to say to our faithful readers out there?
SM: You have faithful readers? Wow, Iíve never done an interview with a magazine that had those.
JJ: Hahaha! Ahh, Code-Man, you still got it! Party Time! J.T.ís World!
JJ: Itís from that episode where you and J.T. totally ripped off Wayneís World and Elizabeth Berkeley, yes, Jessie Spano herself, loved every minute of it.
SM: Wow, you watched that show way too much.
JJ: Well, thanks for the interview, Code-ilingus!