Moonlighting With
Curtis Armstrong
Curtis Armstrong
(photo courtesy of Eric &
the Curtis Armstrong Web Site) Interviews
Curtis Armstrong

Part II

This is the continuation of the interview with Curtis Armstrong who played Herbert Viola on "Moonlighting." Part I of this interview can be found here.
~~ Cindy and Diane

Interview conducted by Cindy Klauss & Diane Hopkins, All Rights Reserved

April 22, 2002

Us: Can you tell us about Curtis Armstrong Week?

Curtis Armstrong  and Bruce Willis during celebration for Curtis Armstrong Week
Bruce Willis and Curtis Armstrong in the midst of celebrating Curtis Armstrong Week
Curtis: You know I don't remember how it started, except I think it was Bruce that started it. It started on a Monday morning as a joke when I came down to the set, and he'd been saying: "It's Curtis Armstrong Week" here on the 'Moonlighting' set," and I don't remember why. I mean he just tossed it off, but then it amused him, and the next day he continued it. I just thought he was joking around. Then people started dropping all these exaggerated hints that something big was planned for Friday, but they wouldn't tell me what it was. I was getting all these looks from the crew and everyone so by the end of the week I was a basket case.

Us: Not necessarily as funny to you as it was uncomfortable?

Curtis: It wasn't really that uncomfortable, but I knew Bruce was up to something, and I was afraid to think what that might be because I thought he was capable of anything. And I didn't know what it was.

Curtis: And then Friday came, and I went down to the set, and I was on the set, and it was eerily quiet. Somebody came up to me on the set and said, "Glenn Caron is on the phone and wants to talk to you on the set phone." Glenn was gone at that point. He'd been gone for a long time, and I hadn't had much if any communication with him, so I thought that was weird. I went to the phone, and he said: "Listen, I just heard. I'm sorry I'm not going to be able to be there today, but you know, congratulations on 'Curtis Armstrong Day.'" And I said: "What is going on?" He said: "Don't worry. It's no big deal. Don't worry about it. Everything's fine. Have a nice day, and blah, blah, blah." So I really then thought something was weird, and then we broke for lunch. They opened up the big doors, and I walked out, and there was this parade lined up. There were all these golf carts, and cars, and what had happened was it had started off as a joke, and then Bruce had started talking to people about actually doing something about it, and as the whole thing just spread, everybody got involved, and everybody was trying to do things, and to arrange things, and everybody had gotten in on it. They were all wearing Curtis Armstrong masks.

Us: How funny!

Curtis: And Bruce had hired all these characters, these people like Miss Pacoima was there, and all of these characters. There was a rap group. And a band, and there were all of these people. I just don't know where they got all these people, but....

Us: A real parade huh?

Curtis Armstrong Week Parade
Curtis Armstrong in the parade in honor of Curtis Armstrong Week on the "Moonlighting" set in 1989.
Curtis: They took me outside, and they put me in an open car, a blue car, and started driving me around the lot. And all of the other shows were pouring out like "L.A. Law" and "Hooperman" and all these other shows that were filming on different sets. The crews and the actors were all coming out and applauding and waving, and I had no idea what was going on. And then we sort of turned at one point and went down the street that goes between two rows of buildings, one of which had our post-production group in it, and all of our editors were out on the balcony throwing discarded film from our show out on me like it was a ticker tape parade.

Curtis: I mean baskets of it. Huge amounts! It was amazing, and we got virtually no work done in the afternoon...because I think it had always been Bruce's idea that this would be a way to get out of working on Friday afternoon. I'm not sure that we ever went back. We all took like a 2-hour lunch, or something, and there were other people there. I mean it was strange. Brian Tochi was there. I'd done "Revenge of the Nerds" with him, and Savage Steve Holland; I had worked with him in movies, and he was there.

Us: So they had invited your friends?

Curtis: Yeah, people had turned up, and it had somehow been kept from me that this was happening. "Entertainment Tonight" was there. "Entertainment Tonight" was filming this thing!

Us: (laughing) I've actually seen some of the clip from that.

Curtis: Yeah. Well they showed some on that Hollywood thing that they did on "Moonlighting."

Us: Oh, then that's probably where I saw it.

Curtis: That's where it was because I remember when they showed it on the actual "Entertainment Tonight" if you remember, they showed like three seconds of it, and then they went to John Tesh, looking really ironic and sarcastic saying, "Boy, I guess they're really desperate for something to celebrate over at Moonlighting these days!" Anyway, so that was "Curtis Armstrong Week."

Us: That's great. Very cool. You know I would assume that was something really unusual, but were there other crazy stuff that happened like that?

Curtis: Not very much. There weren't a lot of parties and things that I remember. I mean there was the occasional wrap party I guess, but nothing really.

Us: Just a lot of work huh?

Curtis: Yeah, and it was such long hours. I mean it wasn't unusual for us to work 15 or 16 hour days, and when you work that much, when you're done, you don't really want to hang out much with people. I mean it isn't a question of not liking them, it's just you want to go home, and you don't have a real strong desire to continue beyond that, and so there was very little socializing at least by the time I got there and after.

Curtis: What I used to do is, I had a trailer, and I would have Friday night parties in the trailer where whomever was still around and felt like coming in and having some drinks could come. So we would have Friday night bashes in my trailer until one o'clock in the morning. And that was the extent of it, but this was towards the end. I don't ever remember Allyce being there or Bruce or Cybill or any of those people. It was always crew because everybody else wanted to go home, and if I'd had a family at that time, I would have gone with them, but I didn't, so to me it was okay to do some partying at the end of the week.

Us: With the show being so high-profile at that point, what was the media attention like?

Curtis: Not much for me. There was a little bit, and some of it unwelcome, but by and large most of it had been done by then. A lot of attention had been paid to it already. Everything had been established before I got there, and you know there was a little bit of publicity for me but not very much. Allyce had warned me when I first started there that it would change everything, and I said: "Well you know I've done some movies and stuff, and a couple of very popular movies," so it was something that I wasn't that unaccustomed to, and she made the point, which was true, that with television, it's different. It's more intimate for people because you come into their homes, not like in a movie. It's that in their home, well, they watch you in their underwear.

Us: (laughing) Yeah, that's true.

Curtis: I can't say that it made a huge impact on me, except it was good money. It was better money than I'd ever made, but aside from that, I can't say that it did anything.

Us: Do you watch many of the "Moonlighting" episodes now?

Curtis: You know I was looking at some of them actually recently, because I started putting together a new reel because I was changing agents, and I was looking at them.

Us: So tell us which episodes do you pick from the show to put on your reel?

Curtis: Well I don't anymore because it's so long ago.

Us: So you don't use any scenes from the show now for your reel?

Curtis: Not really. I mean when I was putting together this reel, I was thinking well what I'll do is 30 seconds at the beginning of the reel of some of the stuff from the 80's. Then I'll get into some of the stuff that I've been doing in the last 10 years. But I just thought, you know what? It's been too long. I don't need to put this stuff on the reel. Everybody knows it. So there's no real point in it. So I didn't.

Us: But if you did pick a scene from the show that you're particularly proud of, what would it be?

Curtis Armstrong and Cybill Shepherd from Ins 'N' Outlaws
Curtis Armstrong and Cybill Shepherd in DiPesto's jury duty dream scene from "In 'N' Outlaws from season 5.
Curtis: Oh I did pick one. I had one on the reel for a while. I had one of Bruce and me from Atomic Shakespeare. And one of Cybill and me where we did this bizarre sort of love scene, which I don't even remember what episode it was, but it was a very peculiar thing where we were sort of being passionate in her office, or something, and Bruce came in, and it was fantasy.

Us: Oh yeah, that's from In 'N' Outlaws.

Curtis: Really, it's the one with the in laws? In 'N' Outlaws? I didn't remember that. So that scene was one that was on there, and then I had one of the Bogart scenes so there would be different looking things. So I did have them on there for a while. But then after a while you're doing it for diminishing returns because this is all stuff that people know. They want to see what you're doing now.

Us: Do you have a scene that you did on "Moonlighting" that you remember as being very difficult?

Curtis: I would say not anything emotional. I would say just a stunt that I was supposed to do myself. And I think it was from that same episode, the "In 'N' Outlaws" one, where Agnes was on the jury. I was supposed to fall backwards off this window. I did it once and was nearly killed. I did it wrong and nearly missed the mat.

Us: Oh no!

Curtis: And so that was the most difficult thing. I did it once. It was not filmed. I did it in a rehearsal. And I said, "Well, that's it for me." And I have not done a stunt since.

Curtis Armstrong and Allyce Beasley from Heres's Living With You, Kid
The emotional final scene in the hallway between Bert & Agnes in "Here's Living With You, Kid"
Curtis: But I can't remember a scene that was really emotional that was that difficult. The one at the end of "Here's Living With You Kid," with the two of us in the hallway, that was a bit of a tricky one but not terrible.

Us: What about a scene that was just hilariously funny to you that you really enjoyed doing?

Curtis: Well there's one that I did with Bruce that we still talk about. I was actually working with the director Alan Arkush, who is the only director I think I've ever worked with on "Moonlighting" who has hired me for other jobs. He's a wonderful guy, and I've done a lot of stuff with him since, and every time we do something, we talk about this episode, and again, I don't know the episode, but it was one where I come into Bruce's office with an arm full of beepers.

Us: That's from "Take a Left at the Altar," early in the fourth season.

Curtis Armstrong and Bruce Willis in
The "beepers" scene from "Take a Left at the Altar" from season 4.
Curtis: And I come into his office, and he was very depressed. This was when Maddie was in Chicago, and I say, "Mr. Addison, I've got beepers," that was my line. And then he said, well, he improvised the line, and his face lit up and he said: "Beepers? Beepers the circus clown?" and it had nothing to do with anything, but for some reason it made him laugh hysterically, and we couldn't get through the scene. And we went on and on for hours trying to get through this scene.

Us: (laughing) That's crazy! How hilarious!

Bert Viola assisting as David's Lamaze partner
Bert in "Fetal Attraction" from Season 4 gets the tough task of having to sub as Addison's Lamaze partner
Curtis: And I had another one with him, a later one also where I think it was when Brooke Adams was on the show, and he was her Lamaze partner. And I was helping him practice for Lamaze on the couch, and I had a pillow stuffed under my sweater.

Us: That is a very funny scene.

Curtis: That was another one that we had a lot of fun doing. We had a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughing. There really was. There was a lot of fun. I mean sometimes it's hard to remember that, but it really was a lot of fun. I mean like you brought up that Curtis Armstrong Week thing. Bruce and Cybill were both involved in that. That was a really nice gesture. It was nice of them to do it, and there were some good times too. In spite of all the tension, there were some good times.

Curtis: I remember once...I can't remember what episode it was. My memory is so bad since it's been so long, but there was some episode we were doing where Cybill got incensed about something, and she stormed off the set and went to her trailer. And Dennis Dugan was directing, so it was one of the last ones. And he went off to try to mollify her. We are all standing on the set waiting to find out what happened and if she is coming back and all and blah, blah, blah. We suddenly hear this screaming, and Dennis comes staggering out of her trailer, and she is coming after him with a butcher knife--which they were setting up because they knew we would all be wondering. Cybill would do this occasionally. She knew that people were expecting her to be difficult, so she would do things like this to play on that as a joke.

Us: (laughing) That must have been a surprise watching that! Sounds like you had plenty to laugh about, too. Do you have any comments, or anything that you'd like to add? Is there anything that you'd like to tell us that we didn't ask?

Curtis: I think we've covered the main stuff. It really was a great job, and it's very nice to hear that people still get a lot of pleasure out of it.

Us: Oh boy, do we! Thank you so much Curtis, for everything.

Back to Part I | Back to Home Page

Or read about Bert Viola, Curtis' character

Or read Television Chronicle Interview with Curtis Armstong.


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