No matter what he does, actor Curtis Armstrong will always be thought of as Booger, the gross-out character he played in the iconic “Revenge of the Nerds” movies. Never mind that he also starred in beloved films like “Risky Business,” “One Crazy Summer,” “Clan of the Cave Bear,” “Ray” and “Better Off Dead.” Or that he’s acted in dozens of TV shows like “Moonlighting,” “Supernatural,” “American Dad” and hosted the reality show “King of the Nerds.” He is, and will always be, “Booger.”
Hell, Mr. Armstrong could be elected president and find a cure for cancer, and would most likely still be referred to as “President Booger” or “that guy Booger who cured cancer.” But he’s kind of OK with that. After all, that role and the dozens that followed have allowed him to continue making a solid living in Hollywood as a character actor — a feat not often repeated.
And now he’s written a very funny book about his life titled “Revenge of the Nerd: Or…the Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger.” Mr. Armstrong and I sat down to discuss joining the literary world, being a nerd and the grossest thing he’s ever been asked to do.
Question: What made you decide to write the book, and why now?
Answer: It seemed like a good time. It wasn’t something that I had really been planning on doing for any stretch of time, but I did have the tendency to keep stuff. I’ve got a couple good-size trunks down in the basement filled with the most unbelievable “trash.” Stuff that any normal person would have thrown away.
Among that were notebooks, diaries, letters and things like that. I was going through [it] with an eye to sort of cleaning it all out. I found these things and just thought, “Why not do something with this?”
Q: I know you are a self-confessed “book nerd.” Do you worry that the ghosts of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare might come after you for writing a book?
A: (Laughs) No. I’ve got loads of things to worry about, and that’s never been on the list. I’m doing my own little bit to get some easy reading out there to the people. Anyone who is interested, then God bless them.
Q: In the beginning of the book, you make a joke about the reader finding the book in the bargain bin. What are your expectations?
A: I have no expectations. I can’t even think of it in those terms.
I’m doing what I can to publicize it. I wrote it to the very best of my ability. If people choose to buy it, that’s great. There is certainly nothing I can do beyond what I have already done to make that happen. Eventually I’m going to have to go back to my day job.
Q: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been asked to autograph?
A: I can answer that right off the bat: At one of the first conventions I ever went to, this very attractive woman came up and she said, “I have a special request.” She took out a plastic Ziploc bag with a piece of white cardboard in it. She took the cardboard out and said, “I hope this doesn’t sound crazy, but what I would really like you to do is pick a booger and put it on this card. Then sign it.”
Q: Did you do it?
A: I did not. (Laughs) I was as polite as I could be but had to decline on the grounds that it was disgusting. A lot of people love Booger, but that situation with the woman with the cardboard was unique.
The interesting thing, as I talk about in the book, is that the character of Booger was based on a real person who indeed collected boogers in a box. I still get queasy thinking about that.
Q: Did you ever meet the real “Booger”?
A: He was a friend of the writers. Somebody they knew in Chicago. All I remember was them telling me the story of his collection, and me saying, “OK, as long as we don’t have to put that in the movie.”
I never met him.
Q: What is on tap with you getting back to your day job?
A: I was supposed to be doing an eight-episode series for Amazon starting in February, but at the last-minute Amazon dropped it. So I never wound up shooting the series.
After the book tour, it is going to be a matter of looking for work. I keep doing “American Dad.” I keep doing “New Girl,” but I don’t have any long-term plans beyond doing this book tour.
Q: Were there any roles you regret turning down?
A: I’ve never been offered a job that I turned down and regretted. I didn’t have Stanley Kubrick offer me something and me say no.
The one that springs to mind was an audition, not an offer. I had an audition for Quentin Tarrentino for “Reservoir Dogs. My agent called very excited about it, then sent me the script.
I had never heard of Quentin Tarantino. I’m reading the script, and I thought, “This is just awful.” I had two days to work on it before the audition, trying to make it work. I finally called my agent and said, “I can’t even speak these words. This is like I speak a foreign language and I’m auditioning for something in a different foreign language. I don’t understand it. I’m just going to pass.”
My agent said, “Rethink this. This could be a big movie.” I said, “Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be a big movie.” I just blew it off.
Q: Looking back on your career, what was your favorite role?
A: I would say Herbert Viola from “Moonlighting” was maybe my favorite role. Although “Metatron” in “Supernatural” would run a close second.
“Revenge of the Nerd: Or…The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger” is available now. Go to CurtisArmstrongBook.com to order the book, and follow Curtis Armstrong on Twitter at .