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NOT NECESSARILY A NERD, RICK MORANIS INSISTS

SHARE NOT NECESSARILY A NERD, RICK MORANIS INSISTS

Don't suggest to Rick Moranis that he's typecast as a nerd.

True, his portrayal of the accoun tant-lawyer in the two "Ghostbusters" pictures, the flower shop employee in "Little Shop of Horrors," the villain in "Spaceballs" and the absent-minded professor in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" may all be less than suave, but to Moranis they are far from the same."I don't think all the characters have quite that much in common," Moranis said in roundtable interviews at the Contemporary Hotel in Disney World, where the press had gathered for interviews to publicize "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," which opened Friday.

"I think Louis Tully in `Ghostbusters' is clearly a nerd. But the other characters I wouldn't quite say . . . . There's nerd and nerdy type. Seymour (from `Little Shop of Horrors') I didn't create. The original Seymour (in the old 1960 Roger Corman film) was a nerdy type back then, the diminutive sort of innocent victim.

"The question I'm asked often is, `Am I tired of playing nerds?' No, to me all the characters are very different. The other side of the question is, I just don't get offered Arnold Schwarzenegger roles."

After a pause, Moranis grinned and added, "Don't ask me why, I just don't. I've also chosen not to take my glasses off and get the contacts and build my body. That would be an option for me too. But I'm comfortable with myself.

"Of course, I do draw the line. When we did `Club Paradise' and I had to wear a bathing suit, I did drop 15 pounds, y'know?"

A Canadian, Moranis first came to public attention as part of the "SCTV" comic ensemble and won two Emmys as a writer on that show. His first movie was "Strange Brew," which he co-directed with co-star and friend Dave Thomas as a spinoff for their most popular "SCTV" characters, the beer-guzzling McKenzie Brothers. Moranis then went on to play supporting roles - all rather nerdy - in "Ghostbusters," "Streets of Fire," "Brewster's Millions," "Club Paradise" and "The Wild Life." Then came a more prominent role in "Spaceballs" and the lead in "Little Shop of Horrors."

"I'm sort of where I am more because of what I say no to than what I say yes to, if that makes sense. I really am enjoying this. I really find that for where I want to be right now, the pace and style of filmmaking is really right for me. The television that we did back then I don't think I could do now. It was too many hours in the day, just too difficult. I wouldn't be able to do that and have a family. I was single back then and really lean and hungry."

In "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" Moranis plays a role not unlike the one Fred MacMurray did for Disney in "The Absent Minded Professor" back in 1961. Only instead of "flubber," Moranis' character invents a machine that shrinks objects and accidentally makes his children microscopic. It's sort of "I Was a Teenage Incredible Shrinking Kid" played for laughs.

"I wanted to work with Disney on something," Moranis explained. "I wanted to do a film that was family-oriented.

"Through the years I've really developed a huge following of kids, as the result of `Spaceballs' and `Little Shop' and `Ghostbusters,' and I get sent a fair number of scripts that try to do this kind of thing but fail because they're either not funny or they're too much - they cross the line into horror. And I stay away from them. This one I thought worked.

"I'm not a horror fan. I don't see horror movies and I don't really like them. I don't want to make them because I don't want to encourage people to see them that wouldn't otherwise see them.

"I was just offered a real rough-and-tumble, horrible, gun-car chase movie that they wanted to make funny so they thought they'd hire me to do some funny stuff. But I turned it down because I didn't like the language and I didn't like the action and the violence in it.

"I really believe I have a responsibility, not only to my own kids, but my face on a trailer will bring `Spaceballs'-`Little Shop'-`Ghostbusters' fans into a movie, and I just don't want to do that. I don't think that's fair to the parents or the kids."

Later Moranis added, "I don't want to sound preachy or self-righteous about this, but there's a kind of movie that I don't see and that I don't enjoy. And I don't like to be in a theater and squirm and want to leave. I try and avoid those kinds of things, it's really as simple as that."

Moranis also said he is not a Hollywood gameplayer or partygoer. "I have other priorities in my life, other than the work. The work is very important to me, but I didn't grow up wanting to do this. I kind of fell into it. I like going to the movies, but I don't see everything and I'm not obsessed by them.

"It has probably cost me an enormous amount of money and a lot of opportunities not living in Los Angeles, but it's not right for me personally. I live in New York right now. I grew up in Toronto and married a girl from New York and that's where we live now."

Of "Ghostbusters II," Moranis said, "I've been looking forward to this sequel for five years. I think when you put people of that caliber together it's really hard to fail. I mean, what it doesn't have going for it in terms of novelty it makes up for with anticipation. I think it will do well."

With all the big stars in the "Ghostbusters" cast, however, Moranis said it was surprising who got the most attention on the set.

"We're in downtown New York and these 4-year-old kids with blue Ecto-pacs and their guns, all they want to see is Winston - Ernie Hudson - the fourth `Ghostbuster,' because he's got the best character on the cartoon show. They've never watched `Saturday Night Live,' they don't care who Bill Murray is, they don't know me - they don't know anybody. They want to see Ernie. `Where's Winston?' And Ernie's like, `What's going on? Oh, the cartoon. Yeah, how ya doing?' So there's a whole other generation of kids there."

In addition to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and "Ghostbusters II," Moranis co-stars in another summer film, "Parenthood," starring Steve Martin, scheduled to open August 11.

"I don't think one will cut into the other. I think people get into a moviegoing mode, they'll see all the stuff."