Eddie Deezen: Before Geek was Chic
You might not recognize the
name, but if youíre a child of the 80s, you definitely know the face and
voice. Eddie Deezen spearheaded the uber-geek movement ó Geeks so geek
they were chic! From Eugene in Grease to Wesley in Midnight Madness, Eddie
portrayed geekdom with such coolness his characters usually stole the show.
You can also easily recognize his voiceólike a nasal Woody Allen sucking
on a helium balloonóas Eddie did voiceovers for practically every good
cartoon in the last ten years (not to mention a good run as Pop in the
Rice Krispies commercials!). Eddie is an 80s cult icon, gaining more popularity
today as geek culture becomes the "in" thing. óAdam Liebling
Adam: What did you think of last nightís X-Files?
Eddie: I thought it was really good. It took me a little while to get into it, but I like how they were trying to make a moral statement about fear.
A: I was a little disappointed by the endingÖ
E: Yeah, they never actually captured the thingÖ So who else have you got?
A: Interviewed, you mean?
A: The issue will have Bruce Campbell, who was in the Evil Dead movies. And I know it will be really hard, but Iím also trying to get Crispin Glover.
E: No kidding! He is the sweetest man!
E: Oh yeah, heís the nicest guy. We did an episode of Facts of Life together, it was his first gig. We used to play poker together. Let me tell you, Adam, he was the only person I ever felt bad about beating in poker. He was such a nice guy, I hated taking his money! Has he done anything recently?
A: He has his own publishing company and put out a couple books. Heís also working on his own independent movie called "What Is It?" He was blacklisted from Hollywood, right?
E: I think so, he did the Letterman show and freaked out, but when I knew him he was really sweet.
A: I never saw that one. He went on as one of his characters and was banned from Letterman, right?
E: It wasnít even Crispin Glover, it was like this guy with long hair down his back was insane and Letterman was genuinely scared.
A: Thatís too bad.
E: Tell me more about READ!
A: Well, itís a self-published magazine that covers punk and other independent music, but the tone is very positive. We try not to be too critical and negative.
E: Thatís great! I like balance in magazines. People can say all these bad things about Elvis, but they should also mention all the thousands of good things about him.
A: Youíre a huge Beatles and Elvis fan, right?
E: Iím the worldís biggest Beatles fan and a HUGE Elvis nut.
A: I saw the Beatles contest on your website (www.eddiedeezen.com). Itís really difficult, has anyone won yet?
E: Not even close! A lot of people write to me, but few respond to the contest. I think I made it too hard. Or maybe I should raise the jackpot.
A: Whoís your favorite Beatle?
E: John. Well, John until Yoko Ono. After that, I liked Paulís solo stuff better. I think John was the coolest, though.
A: George is my favorite. By the way, happy early birthday!
E: Oh thank you! How did you know??
A: Did some research online last night. (pause) Donít worry; Iím not stalking you or anything!
E: (relieved laugh)
A: I found some bio info on some Internet actor database. But no one knows the year, so I guess itís a secret?
E: (laughs) Well, I tell everyone itís í59 but itís really í58. When I first started acting, I figured that since I was an actor I should take a year off. Itís funny, when I was 18, I would take a year off and be 17.
A: Are you looking forward to your birthday or is
it kind of scary?
E: I kind of look forward to it! Iím going to Las Vegas for a week!
A: You like Vegas?
E: Itís my favorite city! I love it!
A: Are you a big gambler? Is that your big vice?
E: I love to gamble. We were crazier in our younger days, but Iím a lot milder now. I donít gamble as much.
A: How did you first get started with acting?
E: I worked at the old Comedy Store and did stand-up comedy three times. I bombed the last time and swore it off and went into acting. So then I was on the Gong Show and got gonged by Paul Williams, the singer. And you know, I met him 20 years later and he apologized to me about it!! He was going through a rough time at the time and he felt really bad about it. So things went full circle! It was like karma!
A: Is Hollywood a small world like that? Do you run into a lot of celebrities where you live?
E: Oh yes, you meet a lot of people. You run into just about everyone.
A: Do you get star-struck still?
E: Yes, I get star-struck! I go crazy over them!
A: After the Gong Show was Grease, your big break. How did you get the gig?
E: I got an agent, I had three auditions, I had my hair all slicked backÖ They cut out some of my scenes, but it was great just to be a part of that.
A: Is John Travolta a nice guy?
E: Super nice guy. He always made it a point to say hello to me. He called me his buddy. And he was huge back then; he was like James Dean. But he was also very shy. I remember we had a sing-along around a piano and he was there wearing his turtleneck and he had his head down. He was so shy, he was singing to the floor!
A: Aww. How did you get into doing voiceovers for animation?
E: I did movies until the late 80ís and started doing voiceovers. Money started coming in like an avalanche!
A: Do you enjoy doing voiceovers?
E: Well, see I hated memorizing lines. For animation, you can read the lines off the copy. And movies and animation are two different communities. I think the voiceover world is a little nicer; itís not so dog-eat-dog.
A: Do you miss acting on camera?
E: I do miss it. People ask me when my next movie will be out, things like that. Maybe Iíll be in more moviesÖ
A: What was your favorite movie youíve done?
E: I Wanna Hold Your Hand was my best performance. I think because I was really playing myself since Iím such a huge Beatles fan. And Robert Zemeckis was the best director Iíve worked with. And he was much better with comedy than Spielberg.
A: Thatís right you did 1941 with Spielberg.
E: Thatís right!
A: Okay, now I have to ask about Midnight Madness. Was that movie so much fun to do, or what?
E: (laughs) So many people tell me they love that movie!
A: It was my favorite movie as a kid. It was just the perfect movie for young kids. Because you have one clue leading to another clue, plus all that competitionÖ It was the coolest movie!!! And it was released by Disney right?
A: And they never released it on video until recently. So all these kids only have these memories of how great the movie was, and as years pass the movie just gets better and better in their heads. It became almost legendary! And let me tell you, my sister just got it for me on video, and itís just as great as I remembered it. So did you have a blast making it?
E: Yes, it was great fun! Everyone was so nice. And a lot of big names came out of that movie.
A: Michael J. Fox, Pee Wee HermanÖ
E: Yes, it was their first movie. Michael J. Fox
and I used to play handball on the set. He was really young back then.
Everyone was really nice on that set. Except there was one mean guy. He
was a prop guy or something, and he was like the resident asshole.
A: (laughs) So you were the ultimate geek in the 80s. Does it bother you that youíre considered an 80ís geek icon?
E: I donít really mind it at all. I was one of the first to really do the nerd, and after me came a lot more nerds. But I was the first to really play it up.
A: Something that always bothered me Ė how come you werenít in Revenge of the Nerds?
E: The same people in Revenge of the Nerds also did this movie I was in called The Whoopee Boys. They told me that they considered me, but couldnít use me because I was too geeky.
E: Well, the whole idea was that they were going to dress normal people up like nerds, but I looked too nerdyÖ.
A: Thatís kind of a mixed complimentÖ I think.
E: But Iíve been mistaken in that movie so many times. A lot of people think I was in it.
A: So whatís in your future? Will you be back on screen?
E: My future is nebulous. I might be stuck in voiceovers, I might have more movies. My most recent on-screen cameo was in a movie called Spy Hard.
A: With Leslie Nielson.
A: Any good Hollywood stories? Inside scoops?
E: I once got to make out with Morgan Fairchild. We got to rehearse it so many times, and it was just surreal!
A: Were you like, "Oops I just messed up, letís do the take again!"
E: Yeah! (laughs) This was in the movie Mob Boss, which came out in 1990. If you can find it, you should definitely see it! Morgan Fairchild was actually very shy. She would eat lunch apart from the rest of the cast. One day she invited me into her dressing room to talk, and you know how guys are. Weíre like "Oh wow, Iím going to get laid now!!!" (laughs) So Iím thinking Iím going to have sex with Morgan Fairchild and itís all so surreal. You know how guys think like that. But we just talked and became friends and she told me really great stories. You know, this is great trivia: She was a stand-in in Bonnie & Clyde. And Warren Beatty made a pass on her and she was like 16 years old at the time!
E: I can tell you my best lunch story too! The best I had was with Steven Spielberg, Dan Ackroyd, and John Belushi. When the bill came, I got really nervous because I had no money, but Spielberg picked up the tab!
E: Belushi was a very warm guy. Dan Ackroyd was really into ghosts and conspiracies.
A: This was before Ghostbusters?
A: Did you see the movie Sneakers? Ackroyd plays a conspiracy buff.
E: No I havenít. He was probably playing himself. He was really into it.
A: What was it like working with Matthew Broderick in War Games?
E: SUPER nice guy. VERY nice guy.
A: And Scott Baio in Zapped?
E: Really nice too!
A: You meet a lot of nice people!
E: I think top celebrities are the nicest people. They donít have anything to prove because theyíve already done it all. Top stars seem to have this inner security. Most of them are very shy and nice.
A: Youíre Jewish, right?
A: So am I!
A: Yeah! How was your Bar Mitzvah?
E: It was pretty good, no big deal. I made about $880.
A: Thatís pretty good. Do you remember your Haftorah?
E: No, but if you got me started on it, I could probably remember itÖ
A: Bar et chu adonai veyolam va edÖ
E: Ha motzi leffen min ha aretz. Wait, thatís the bread prayer..
A: (laughs) Bíray píree ha gaffen
E: Whatís that?
A: Prayer for wine. I think these things stay in our heads forever because it was taught to us completely by rote. Nobody knows what these prayers and songs mean!
E: Yeah! I couldnít tell you what "Die Die Anu" means!
A: Or Adonalom!
E: (laughs) We had two versions of it! One was the "Adonalom. Adonalom. Asher malech. Asher malech." And the other was the real, cantor way.
E & A: (singing together) "Adonalom, asher malech, bterem call, yutzir neívra!" (laughs!)
A: We actually had a third, dirty version of it!
E: Really, how did it go?
A: "I donít know why, I share my lox. Beterm called, you see my bra. I ate my socks and testiclesÖ" Sorry I donít remember the rest!
E: Thatís great! I never heard that one! Did you have a cantor at your temple?
A: I went to a more reformed temple.
E: I had a cantor at my Bar Mitzah. He was a total ham and was stealing the show. My father had to take him off to the side and tell him to ease up on the shtick.
A: (laughs) We just had rabbis, I think maybe one cantor on Shabbat. I hated Hebrew school, though. You know, I think most modern American-Jews are so anti-religion because Hebrew school just sucked so much.
E: Thatís a great theory! I hated Hebrew school!
It just wasnít fair Ė we had regular school firstÖ
A: And then two hours of Hebrew school afterwards! I know, it was terrible!
E: And all of my friends would be out playing, and I had Hebrew school!
A: I feel your pain, Eddie. I HATED Hebrew school. I just have one more question for you. My friend Amanda is a huge Smurfs fan. Like, she has Smurf bed sheets and pajamas, and keep in mind sheís like 24 years old. So she wants to know which Smurf did you play?
E: (laughs) I was just on one episode! I was like a guest Smurf, an off-beat Smurf. I think I had a crush on the girl Smurf.
A: Smurfette or one of those newer hip Smurfs?
E: I donít remember, I think Smurfette.
A: My girlfriend Sarah and I tried thinking of which Smurf you were. We thought Brainy, but his voice was lower.
E: Yeah, I was a one-off Smurf.
A: It was great speaking with you, Eddie. Youíre
a really nice guy!
E: So are you, Adam!
A: Itís been a pleasure talking to you. Youíve been in my favorite movies, and I have something I want to tell you. (pause) The first time I ever watched Midnight Madness, I was rooting for the White Team. Growing up, I was a total anti-social bookworm, and I really related to your characters. I still think that the White Team wouldíve won, if it wasnít for Pee Wee Herman distracting you in the arcade.
E: Thank you Adam, that means a lot!!
A: Well, thank you, Eddie. Take care of yourself!
E: You too!! Good luck with READ!!