Back in 1983, Andrew Cassese really nailed his audition for the role of Harold Wormser; like his _Revenge of the Nerds_ character, the then-12-year-old actor was a bona-fide spaz. Those buckteeth and prescription eyeglasses were the real thing, he always scored well on exams, and he was heavily into both computers and the Millennium Falcon. The casting directors didn’t have to think twice before making him an active member of Lambda Lambda Lambda, the celluloid fraternity that included a violinist in a three-piece suit, a nose-picking slob, a mush-mouthed Asian and just about every other stereotypical social outcast imaginable… except for a Jew.
After scouring the recently released _Revenge of the Nerds: Panty Raid Edition_ DVD, replete with the original _Nerds_, its half-assed sequel Revenge of the _Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise_, deleted scenes, director’s commentary and other unnecessary extras, it appears that not one of the Tri-Lambs (Wormser included) intimate any connection to the chosen—quite an anomaly for a film franchise based on a pack of small-framed fellows with severe allergies.
But Cassese disagrees.
“I always thought that Harold Wormser was Jewish,” he says. “Maybe that’s not a Jewish name, but I’ve always played Jewish characters. I was cast as a young Woody Allen for _Radio Days_, but he did _Hannah and Her Sisters_ first. So, when he came back to that project, I was too old for the part.”
At 35, the NYU graduate and Brooklynite is still a member of the geek squad: Wasabi gives him indigestion, he reads Chekhov for shits and giggles, and a chemical in chewing gum makes him break out in hives.
Says Cassese, “The running joke is that I’m not Jewish, but I play one on TV. I have always played Jewish characters: Sherman Fischer on _TV101_ with Matt LeBlanc, Sauli in an ABC after-school special [The Kingdom Comes: Little David's Adventure]… I’m Italian, so I have this big nose. I think that’s part of why I fit the niche.”