Curtis 'Booger' Armstrong Explains Why John Cusack Disavowed 'Better Off Dead'
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Curtis 'Booger' Armstrong Explains Why John Cusack Disavowed 'Better Off Dead'

By Dustin Rowles | Celebrities Are Better than You | March 19, 2014 | Comments ()


Over on the Nerdist podcast this week, Curtis ‘Booger’ Armstrong joined Chris Hardwick and the gang to talk about the Revenge of the Nerds and his career, in general. Armstrong is actually a fun guy to have on, because during the 80s, he worked with a ton of people, like Tom Cruise (Risky Business), Bruce Willis (Moonlighting) and, of course, John Cusack on Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer, and he doesn’t mind sharing a little gossip.

On the subject of Moonlighting, Armstrong actually discussed the toxic relationship between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd that basically ruined that show. They both hated each other, and neither one of them wanted to be on the show anymore (especially once Willis became a movie star). He also talked about the profound friendships he created on the set of Revenge of the Nerds, and how he continues to be close friends with many of those cast members (he works with Robert Carradine on their reality show, King of the Nerds).

One of the best stories, actually, is a segment where Armstrong talks about trying to find roles that might allow him to break free from the reputation he’s had over the past three decades and do something different that would allow others to appreciate him as an actor (rather than basically Booger). He thought that role was going to be Ray because it was a prestige film, and in it, he looked nothing like people are accustomed to seeing him look and turned in a performance dissimilar to everything he’s done before. The problem? Everyone thought he was Clint Howard.

But to the point of this post (though, you really should check out the podcast on Nerdist). Back in the 1985, Savage Steve Holland actually asked Curtis Armstrong to be in Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer because he was such a fan of Revenge of the Nerds. That, of course, made him co-stars with John Cusack in both films, and Cusack has famously disavowed them. Several reasons have been offered over the years, but here’s the actual story, from Armstrong himself (with an assist from Hardwick, who relayed the story he heard from Savage):

Hardwick: I was sort of heartbroken to find out that Cusack essentially disavowed those films … Did you hear the story? They shot Better Off Dead and they said Cusack was great, and then they finished it and they almost immediately went into One Crazy Summer.

Armstrong: And he had a deal to do two movie with Savage. One Crazy Summer, which wasn’t called that then, was supposedly a kind of sequel to Better Off Dead and Cusack was already scheduled to do them.

Hardwick: What was it originally called?

Armstrong: Umm, I think, What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

Hardwick: So, while they’re shooting One Crazy Summer, they get this cut of Better Off Dead, and do this screening, and I guess John …

Armstrong: Walked out.

Hardwick: And he wouldn’t talk to anyone for the rest of filming.

Armstrong: It wasn’t that bad. It was … I had thought the screening was here but, wherever it was, he was so angry and so, I guess, disappointed that it was not the movie he was expecting, I don’t know. It seemed like the movie that I read, but he felt it was juvenile or something. And, uh, when I got to Cape Cod to shoot the second movie, he had already gone through this and, he was, we talked about it briefly, but he didn’t dwell on it. It’s not that he was refusing to talk to people or anything like that. In fact, he would talk to Savage, but he would also not listen to Savage and he would do whatever he wanted to do.

Then after One Crazy Summer was done, that was it. And he wouldn’t have anything to do with anything, and he wouldn’t publicize the movie, or anything like that.

Somebody told me recently that he had signed a poster of Better Off Dead. That was huge because he literally would not sign anything. Somebody would hand him something and he would push it away. He would not. It was like a cross in front of a vampire.

Source: Nerdist

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • kali yuga

    I'm still trying to find the explanation.

  • pnnylne

    Okay I get the explanation, but it still doesn't stop the hurt.


  • Uriah_Creep

    Ha! I just watched that movie last night (I'd never seen it before).

  • Kayanne

    But it's still a mystery. What the hell was it in the screening that made him walk out? Was it the pig's chef hat? Was it the tentacles/testicles exchange? Was it "Gee, I'm really sorry your mom blew up, Ricky?" Was he really that bent out of shape about everyone asking him to date Beth?I HAVE TO KNOW! How could he have hated that movie?

    You know how some people say, never meet your heroes? I must always keep that in mind when I think about John Cusack. As an awkward teen,I saw Better Off Dead way beyond its original airing and I became obsessed. I started quoting it randomly to people who had no idea why I constantly wanted two dollars or why I said French bread so weirdly, but it was amazing. Every time I see it, I laugh until I snort or cry or both. I was convinced that if I ever met John Cusack I would just hound him with a thousand stupid questions about how to drag race in dish washing gloves, but then I found out he hated the film and I was crushed.

    How can you justify making America's Sweethearts. Must Love Dogs, 2012, War Inc., Serendipity and The freaking Raven and not be proud of Better Off Dead?!?!?

    Your work in High Fidelity and Anastasia only gets you so far, bucko. Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is? GAH!

  • *stands up nervously* Hi, my name is Courtney, and I love Serendipity.

  • My name is Damian, and I love Serendipity, too.

  • Uriah_Creep

    The first step, Courtney, is to admit that you are powerless against Serendipity. There will then be a further 11 steps, but I fully believe we will be able to help you. God bless!

  • Kayanne

    It makes me so angry! For two very important reasons:
    1.) Ugh, just hook-up don't wait until fate, ya know? Seize the day and all that hogwash. Dude, you're John Cusack and she's Kate Beckinsale. Apparently, Michael Sheen is literally the only one who can bounce back from that (see: Rachel McAdams).
    2.) Every time I think about it I want a sundae. Like really badly. And if I ate a sundae any time I thought about Serendipity I'd look like one. And I don't want to look like a sundae because Spaceballs did it first. :-/

    I also hate it for one less important reason. And that is because I may or may not own the soundtrack. Why 14-year-old me, WHY?

  • Charlotte Helen Nadia Cooper

    I was lucky to interview Diane Franklin lately, so obviously we mentioned 'Better of Dead' and the lovely Mr Cusak, she told me that "To me John is sweet, shy and has a very dry sense of humor. I LOVED working and just being with John." ...
    This made me happy...

  • Just Cynjok

    Much better. LOL.

  • Charlotte Helen Nadia Cooper


  • pissants_doppelganger

    Why should I? Generally, if you want to entice people to click on links, you shouldn't give them the reason for doing so in the comment. For instance, you could have just posted the link without the quote.

    Saying "click this" after giving the reason for doing so isn't effective at all.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    Meanwhile, far away from nerd cred (I shouldn't be allowed in this thread with a comment like this), Armstrong was a great villain during the last season and a half of "The Closer." That must have been one of the roles he took on trying to change his image.

  • He was mad at how Better Off Dead turned out, yet he read the script for America's Sweethearts and still took it? Something is off here.

  • Must Love Dogs. Must Love fucking Dogs.

    AND HE REWROTE HIS PART. That kind of makes it worse.

  • Actually 'Must Love Fucking Dogs' would have been another movie all together...

  • PooPooNumber2


  • I'm glad to hear Cusack may have made his peace with Better Off Dead.

    When you think of all the disposable teen movies that have littered the cinematic landscape over the last 30 years, I think it means something that Better Off Dead still resonates and is still being discovered by new fans.

    How long can Cusack hold a grudge when people are more likely to approach you about Better Off Dead compared to City Hall or Pushing Tin?

  • loo shag brolley

    I feel like Cusack's career has had more misses than hits. He should learn to embrace the hits.

  • Cusack, to me, probably prioritizes "art" first. He does one for himself and he does one for the paycheck. A lot of actors who stay in the game a while sustain themselves that way.

    I don't think Cusack ever wanted to be Tom Cruise or Will Smith, you know what I mean?

  • Laura

    I just don't see how you could NOT like Better Off Dead. I just don't understand, and I love Cusack. Well, Cusack the actor, not sure about Cusack the person. By the way, is The Raven any good?

  • grr arrgh

    Eh, it was much better than I was expecting. I thought it'd be a "So bad it's good" type movie. It was pretty close to a genuinely good one. He's good in it. The story was kind of lacking though.

  • StellaOliver


  • Jezebeelzebub

    The Raven hurt my feelings real bad.

  • Frankc

    Anytime I hear Van Halen's "Everybody Want Some", it reminds me of that claymation hamburger and fries singing to it. That and the paperboy I want my two dollars!

  • Charlotte Helen Nadia Cooper

    Read what Diane Franklin had to say about the film too at

  • foolsage

    Why should I? Generally, if you want to entice people to click on links, you need to give them some reason to do so. For instance, you could share a quote or insight Diane's had on the material.

    Just saying "click this" isn't effective at all.

  • Charlotte Helen Nadia Cooper

    I'm very sorry, I actually did write a whole message but the page kept on crashing so I was left with that... Sorry... I'll try again.

  • foolsage

    Heh, fair enough. I'll have a look then.

  • Charlotte Helen Nadia Cooper

    Although I did get over 100 more views than normal this afternoon....

  • Mrs. Julien

    And Dustin says I've been feisty lately.

  • foolsage

    Feistiness isn't a zero-sum game. More for everyone!

  • cruzzercruz

    I love One Crazy Summer. It cycled on HBO what seemed like every week during my childhood and it made me feel like summers could be crazy.

  • loo shag brolley


  • Mrs. Julien

    I think Cusack is really just guilty of being a pretentious teenager.

    True Story: I worked for my school newspaper and we were given free movie passes to Better Off Dead on condition that we review it. I went to see it and despite the fact that I was interested in movie reviewing, my teen inertia prevented me from reviewing the film, getting more free tickets, and exploring what I considered a potential career at the time. The editor was most unhappy with me. I was guilty of being a lazy teenager.

  • One Crazy Summer I get. But Better Off Dead? FLAW-FREE FILM.

  • loo shag brolley


  • It has raisins in it. You like raisins.

  • And to drink, Peru!

  • makayli verran

    My Uncle Aiden got an almost new cream Lincoln MKS Sedan by
    working part time off of a laptop. have a peek here F­i­s­c­a­l­P­o­s­t­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Gee, I'm real sorry your uncle blew up, makayli.

  • oilybohunk7

    The only part of Better Off Dead that I didn't love was the claymation hamburger love story.

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