Trebek died Nov. 8 at age 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“It was an honor [to work with Trebek] and I was beyond thrilled,” Perez recalled. “I’m a nerd and a geek and I love game shows and I always watched ‘Jeopardy!’ and then ‘Wheel of Fortune’ with my aunt and I couldn’t believe I was going to be in a scene with this man.”
The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., recalled there was no rehearsal for the scene.
“So when we went to shoot, he walks out on the stage and we were on the actual ‘Jeopardy!’ stage and my heart just went up in my throat,” Perez said. “If you see in the scene my shoulders are [raised and tense] because I was so nervous and I knew my lines but my speech impediment came out.”
The star recalled mispronouncing a word, which Trebek played into.
“That’s not correct but we will check with the judges. … The judges say ‘OK,’ OK,” she recalled the game show icon saying.
“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ and that was all ad-lib on Alex’s part, he was so smooth and everything,” the actress said. “When the director Ron Shelton yelled, ‘Cut!’ we all were like, ‘Yeah, that was awesome!'”
Perez asked to reshoot the scene to fix the mistake, but Shelton insisted the scene be used for the final cut.
“I went over to Alex afterward and I said, ‘Sir, it’s such an honor to meet you. My aunt and I watch you every single night and I just love you. Can I give you a hug?'” the star recalled. “He said, ‘I was going to ask you the same, but you know, I am a gentleman and I don’t want to be rude.'”
The pair exchanged a squeeze, though Perez remembers “smearing” makeup on Trebek’s clothes.
“He was just wonderful,” she gushed. “Not just a national treasure, a worldwide treasure. And a great loss — a great loss, you know. But what he’s given us, we will always have, so that’s a wonderful thing.”