Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox and Timothy Busfield

Busfield makes Poindexter the quiet, weird nerd


The strangest character in "Revenge of the Nerds" surely is Arnold Poindexter.

Weird hair. Crossed eyes. Absurdly quiet. Plays violin. Wears a suit all the time.

"I thought there was a need for a quiet nerd," says Timothy Busfield, the actor behind Poindexter. "Oh, yeah, and he was definitely damaged."

The strange fearful nerd that Busfield portrayed was eerily similar to real-life weird kids. Busfield says the mystery behind what makes Poindexter so quiet is key to the role.

From the start, Busfield wanted to be a nerd.

"I just read the script and knew it was great," he says.

Busfield originally tried out for Anthony Edwards’ role of Gilbert Lowell, a fellow nerd. But when he didn’t get the role, Busfield didn’t quit.

"I went to a thrift store for the clothes, found the glasses, did the hair and came back for the part of Lipshitz," he says. "That was Poindexter’s original name in the script."

"They didn’t even know it was me," Busfield says. "I took off the glasses and they were like, ‘Oh my God, it's Tim!’"

Busfield even went so far as to take the violin at least a little bit seriously.

"I took violin lessons for a while," Busfield says. "That was me doing my best to play along with the music in the gym. (Director) Jeff (Kanew) said they would record over it, but they never did."

Busfield adds that it was not him playing in the nerds’ song-and-dance routine at the end of the film.

Collaboration was key to "Revenge of the Nerds’" success, Busfield says.

"We all got together and worked on the script," he says. "We all added some things. I added the dancing. And the part where the robot attacks Poindexter, I thought of that."

Busfield also says the older generation of nerds, and in particular, Jamie Cromwell , who played Lewis Skolick’s father, set the tone for the younger actors.

"We took it seriously," Busfield says. "Jeff didn't look at this as a comedy or teen film. We all made characters that were more dramatic. We weren't trying to be funny in the usual way."

"It's kind of like a tagline that Jeff put in later, ‘When the odd get even.’" Busfield says. "We all have something that puts us on the outside. That's why the movie is special."

Busfield isn’t shy about talking "Nerds." He clearly had a great time on the set, he returned for the sequel, and he’s outspoken about his admiration for his fellow castmates and memories of filming.

"My favorite part was when Pointdexter has his first orgasm, in the morning when they had watched the girls all night," Busfield says. "At first, everyone kept laughing, but finally everyone got quiet, some of them were sleeping, and there was this ‘eh’"

Busfield, now 47, has been busy as ever. He’s acted in TV series such as "The West Wing" and directed shows such as "Lizzie McGuire" and "Las Vegas."

He keeps in contact with some fellow nerds, Anthony Edwards above all, referring to him as Tony.

Busfield still has his Poindexter glasses and his nerd pack. He auctioned off a lot of his other memorabilia to benefit charity. When questioned about the nerd pack, Busfield explains.

"The nerd pack, oh, we talk about it like everyone knows what it is!" Busfield says. "It's a pocket protector with a compass, pencils and other stuff inside. We all wore one during the movie."

Indeed. There are some things that will always be a part of our favorite nerd troupe. While they’re in our hearts, nerddom will always be in theirs.