Five Movie Nerds who Aren’t as Nerdy as you Think

One of the most unfortunate tropes in movies is the introduction of a character that you can immediately label.  These archetypes help foreign audiences to understand the role of a character, even if they don’t understand that character’s background:  The supermodel cheerleader, the suave leading man, the funny fat guy, and the hopeless nerd, among dozens more.   As much as we may hate  it, Hollywood clings to these archetypes, even if they’re derogatory.


The nerd in film is just there, for the most part, to help the leading man or woman work through the plot of the story and disappear (possibly into a locker).  He may make funny jokes (Possibly locker-related), or come up with a clever invention (locker-related) to help save the world:  But the nerd will rarely, if ever, have his or her day.  But some of these big-screen nerds aren’t as nerdy as they let on.  Here are five nerds from film who are secretly awesome behind the scenes:

5.  Jonathan Ke Quan

The nerditry:


He’s most well-known as Short-Round, Harrison Ford’s young sidekick in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  A year later, he played as the helpful nerd, Data, in The Goonies.  Despite what the name implies, Quan’s character wasn’t a computer-geek.  Rather, he had a knack for using toys to help his friends in the same way that Inspector Gadget might fetch a beer from the cooler.  While he was a member of the team, he really only seemed to be there because the Goonies needed a lone genius who knew his way around technology.

Actually, fuck it:  Quan’s character was cooler than all of you condescending wankers put together.

But did you know…


Quan, who turns 42 in August of this year, has spent much of his life studying Tae Kwon Do.  He’s a huge fan of Jackie Chan, and he works as a stunt-coorinator and fight choreographer: most notably in Jet Li’s “The One” and on “X-Men.”

4.  Michael Cera

The Nerditry:


With a frail physique, perpetually pasty complexion, big hair and wide, innocent eyes, most of Cera’s roles have been ones of quiet sensitivity.  While he’s played the leading man in several films to date, Cera’s film career has always presented him as a lovable loser.

But did you know…

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wasn’t just about Cera’s titular character fighting to win the heart of his dream girl:  It was about music.  So it might surprise you to know that Cera was asked to play slightly worse while performing with his on-screen band, “Sex Bob-omb,” so that he wouldn’t outshine his cast-mates.

Michael Cera

Michael Cera plays the guitar, and he’s apparently amazing at it.  In fact, Cera’s already in a California indie-rock band called the “Long Goodbye,” and according to Juno costar Ellen Paige, he’s very good.

3. Tina Majorino

The Nerditry:


Majorino is possibly best-recognised as “Deb,” the door-to-door salesgirl who befriends Jon Heder in Napoleon Dynamite, although in another big role in her career, Majorino played “Mac,” the nerdy sidekick to Veronica Mars using her computer to help the titular character.

And much like her Veronica Mars character, Majorino owns five computers, and is a self-confessed computer geek.

With her plain clothes, shy demeanor, and her silly sideways ponytail, here is a woman who seems utterly hopeless.  Just look at her!!

But did you know…

Age transforms women.  So does makeup, stage lighting and acting ability.  That’s the thing about nerds:  One day, they don’t look like “nerds” anymore.   She also has a black belt in the martial art of Tang Soo Do, one of the many styles practiced and popularized by Chuck Norris’s beard.


2. Fran Kranz

The Nerditry:


In Joss Whedon’s “The Dollhouse,” Kranz was the hopelessly nerdy programmer and biotechnical engineer whose expertise led to the newfound technology that involved transplanting the memories of one person into the mind of another.

With his nervous posture, awkward sense of humour and nasally voice, Kranz was also featured as a nerdy stoner in the horror film, “Cabin in the Woods.”  Next to his beefy male counterparts in the film, Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams (and the lack of a girlfriend to play opposite himself), Kranz’s nerditry was only made more clear to the audience.

But did you know…

You might remember the scene from Cabin in the Woods where Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams jump into a lake, shirtless alongside their female costars while Kranz’s character stands on the shore.  Of course he would, right?  He’s a nerd.

But what you might not know is that the reason for him not removing his shirt and jumping in with them was actually the opposite.  According to writers during the film’s commentary, Kranz is “ripped like muscular Jesus.”  They went on to say that if Kranz were shown to be as fit, if not in better shape than his male costars, it would ruin his character.

To put it another way, the director was afraid that the character would be ruined because this guy:

muscular jesus kranz

Looked better without his shirt on than this guy:


1. Anthony Edwards

The Nerditry:


Meet Gilbert Lowell, one of the unfortunate protagonists in Revenge of the Nerds.  To test their stage makeup for the film, Edwards and costar Robert Carradine attended college rush-week at the University of Arizona, where Revenge of the Nerds was filmed.

When the real fraternities were reviewing prospective pledges, the fraternity leader of the first house took one look at the two actors and is quoted as saying, “No way.”

His parents wouldn’t allow him to watch prime time television when he was young, and as a teenager, Edwards studied ballet.  He has seen every Gene Kelly musical, and once aspired to be a “song and dance”-man.  So maybe it’s for the best that the fraternities at the University of Arizona didn’t accept him–He never would have survived the hazing.

But did you know…


Edwards’s filmography is several pages deep, and while he doesn’t often play leading roles, you’ve most certainly seen him in other films.  He was “Goose” in Top Gun, but is well-known for his longterm role as Doctor Mark Greene on the American television series, ER.

Playing the role of Mark Green earned Edwards several television awards, including Best Actor on a television series, Favourite Male Performer, and “Sexiest Man in a Television Series.”

Edwards plays basketball with former ER costar George Clooney, he once dated actress Meg Ryan, and he is a personal friend of Natalie Portman.

As for the jocks who once would have shoved him into a locker?  Or the fraternity leaders who rejected him and his Revenge of the Nerds co-star out of hand?

I’ve never heard of them.  Have you?

About Alyssa

Just a smalltown girl Living in a lonely world Took the midnight train going anywhere

Posted on June 13, 2013, in Blog Stuff, Geekery, Guest Posts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice post! It’s kind of cool to know that Fran Kranz is totally ripped. Kind of like how I’m totally ripped, but everybody just knows me as a super geek.

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