Let's talk nerds.
Wil: You sort of rose to acclaim playing the
character, Booger, in "Revenge of the Nerds", and also
playing variations of that character in other films.
Booger was kind of like a cosmic entity who traveled
to parallel universes to help whoever was in need, be
it John Cusack or Robert Carradine. I was kind of interested
to find out that at first you were totally opposed to
playing the role of Booger.?
Curtis: Well, yeah, I was living in New York
then and I had just done "Risky Business". and I had
been out of work pretty much since then. Then I got
the offer to do the audition for "Revenge of the Nerds."
I read the script and it was really bad, especially
after "Risky Business" which was, you know, kind of
a classy project. So I was reading for the Anthony Edwards
part (Gilbert Lowe, secondary nerd ) which I think they
gave me just because of those two characters, Bobby
(Robert Carradine, who played main nerd, Lewis Skolnick)
was already cast, and those two characters were the
only ones with any substantial dialogue. So I was reading
for Anthony's role, although I don't think I was ever
up for Anthony's role.
Wil: It does seem kind of hard to see you in
Curtis: Well, yeah, at the time, you don't think
about those things, you think, "Oh, I could play this."
But in retrospect, it's impossible. So I read for it,
and they called me back, but they said "Would you consider
reading for the part of Booger?" And I just got on my
artistic high horse and said, "How dare they ask me
such a question?". to play this horrible person, picking
my nose and belching and I said "Absolutely not!" And
then I said."Okay." Because of course, I had no money.
You know, I had to work. So I went in and read for Booger.
And, umm, got it!
Wil: Have you ever had anyone come up to you
on the street and say, "You know, all joking aside,
Booger really changed my life!"
Curtis: Nobody's actually said that in those
terms, but I'm approached by people daily.
Wil: That recognize you from the role?
Wil: Do you think the "Nerds" films had some
kind of effect with the message of, "it's all right
to be different"?
Curtis: Oh, absolutely. You know, it's a bizarre
thing, because it's a simple little teenage sex comedy.
And yet, it had this theme in it that definitely spoke
to people. A message of tolerance and acceptance and
all that. And there are a lot of lonely, disenfranchised
young people out there - guys, usually - who grab onto
the Nerds as being this floating life raft. Because
the thing about the Nerds, what made them so appealing,
was that not only are they underdogs, they are underdogs
who accept other underdogs unconditionally. And that
speaks volumes to people.
Wil: What I thought was interesting was that
the writers could've made a film that was just about
the classical definition of nerds - guys with the pocket
protectors and the eyeglasses - but instead they threw
in a Booger, they threw in a Lamar (Larry B. Scott's
overtly gay character). I think there was one other
character that didn't fit into the traditional nerd
Curtis: Well, yeah, there's Takashi who also
isn't the classic idea of what a nerd is. The stereotypical
nerd character was Bobby's, though Bobby was so good
that he brought in all sorts of elements to it to make
it more than just a cartoon. But the rest of those characters
weren't really, traditional nerds. And it would be done
very differently today.
Wil: You think so?
Curtis: Well, yeah. The funny thing about "Revenge
of the Nerds" is that it was sort of lumped together
with a lot of those "Porky's" type movies as being a
gross out, teen sex film and so on. And to compare it
to movies today, it's, you know, a bedtime story. It's
Wil: Yeah, certainly in terms of sexual content.
Curtis: And not just sexual content but the
gross out humor. It's just become eclipsed by the Tom
Greens and all those other people who are doing such
extreme stuff now, stuff that you have to do in order
to get attention. But at the time, "Nerds" was considered
a gross out movie. And yet, really. you know, it was
Wil: Was there a Booger in your high school
Curtis: No. The guys who wrote "Nerds", Steve
Zacharias and Jeff Buhai, based him on a real person
who. this is really sickening. this guy used to drive
around in a truck and he kept a box of his own boogers
on his seat.
Wil: That's glorious!
Curtis: According to them, that was what he
did. So that's how Booger got his inception.
Wil: Well, I knew a guy who used to chew tobacco
and he would save up all his spit in a jar.
Curtis: That's disgusting.
Wil: .so I guess that sort of thing gets around
Curtis: That's really disgusting.
Wil: Something I only recently realized is that
Robert Carradine is the son of John Carradine and the
half-brother of David Carradine from the Kung Fu series.
Curtis: And Keith Carradine also. Keith Carradine
is his other brother. Maybe they're half brothers. I
thought they were all full brothers. But, yeah. John
Carradine was one of my faves when I was a kid because
I loved all the old Universal horror films and so on.
Even though, I guess he was sort of ashamed of them.
But he did some great roles in other movies like "Stagecoach"
and "The Grapes of Wrath." He was a terrific actor.
Wil: Did those guys ever interact with you on
the set? Did David Carradine stop by and.
Curtis: Oh, no, no, no. The original "Nerds"
film was filmed in Tucson, Arizona, so nobody was dropping
by. Keith was the only one that I met, because when
we came back to L.A., Bobby's girlfriend threw him a
birthday party at On The Rocks in Hollywood, and Keith
stopped by there. But he's the only other member of
the family I met.
Wil: I would think that be tough on Robert Carradine
because all his relatives are these tough guys and he's
basically this nerd.?
Curtis: No, I don't think so because he's had
a huge career. You should rent "The Long Riders." That's
all three Carradine brothers. that's David and Keith
and Robert. And the Keach brothers (Stacy and James
Keach) and the Guest brothers (Christopher and Nicholas
Guest). It was sort of stunt casting, because it's about
the younger Dalton gang and they cast actors who were
brothers for all the brothers.
Wil: That's an interesting kind of shtick.
Curtis: But it's a great movie, and Bobby is
wonderful in it. He has had a long and very prosperous
career as an actor. His first movie was "The Cowboys"
with John Wayne. I don't think he has anything to be
Wil: Well, yeah, I'm being somewhat facetious
Curtis: I know, yeah, it's just. well, now Bobby's
daughter, Ever, who was about nine when I met her, is
a beautiful young woman now, and she's an actress here
in Hollywood. So, it's continuing.
Wil: The Carradine legend continues?
Curtis: The Carradine legend continues. That's
Wil: Do you have much communication with any
of the "Nerds" these days?
Curtis: Yeah, actually. I have a daughter who's
five, and we went to a birthday party of one of her
schoolmates a couple of months ago, and we walked in
and there was Bobby. And I hadn't seen him, at that
point, in years. But he's working on a show for the
Disney Channel right now, and it was such a bizarre
thing that we would meet that way, because then we were
talking and he said, "You have to come to the set next
week because our director is Tim Busfield."
Wil: Ahhh, he was Poindexter, right?
Curtis: He was Poindexter. So the next week
I went down and we hung out on the set, the three of
us, and it was a lot of fun. And then two weeks later
I was contacted by Brian Tochi, who played Takashi,
and he was producing a pilot for cable TV that he wanted
me to act in. So I wound up working with Brian again,
only this time he was the Producer/Director. And then
I ran into someone the other day who's good friend of
Larry B. Scott.
Wil: And that's Lamar.
Curtis: That's Lamar. So he gave me Larry's
number and I'm going to call Larry. I mean, it's obvious
that there's something in the stars here that we should
all get together again.
Wil: The planets have been aligned?
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