A young Bill Pullman gave a hilarious performance as the Han Solo-like space pilot Lone Starr in Mel Brooks’ parody film Spaceballs, and he did it without ever seeing Star Wars. In addition to this shocking admission, Pullman has also revealed other secrets behind the production of Spaceballs, including Mel Brooks’ concerns about the possibility of blue screen work causing actors to suffer loss of vision.
Pullman was an unknown performer with just a couple roles under his belt when he landed the role of Lone Starr, a cocky pilot who flies around in a space Winnebago with his half-man/half-dog companion Barf (John Candy), and comes to the aid of Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) after she’s kidnapped by President Skroob (Mel Brooks), Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) and the evil Spaceballs. Despite his lack of experience, or maybe because of it, Pullman didn’t think he needed to prep for his big break comedic role by actually studying the source material upon which the parody was based.
In an interview with THR on the 30th anniversary of Spaceballs, Pullman revealed that he didn’t see the classic space opera that inspired his whole character, but it didn’t matter because he had Mel Brooks to guide him through his performance:
“I missed it the first time around. I just needed Mel to tell me what was going on. I didn’t need to see Star Wars to know what the whole thing was.”
Pullman also talked about the strange level of concern director Brooks and others involved in the production had over actors possibly suffering ill-effects from standing in front of blue screens. Pullman said that actors were even forced to take breaks between takes to rest their eyes:
“They had a belief back in those days that the blue screen was bad for your eyes. I can’t remember if it was Mel or the assistant directors who heard this, but they would call cut and everyone would put on their sunglasses.”
It’s been 30 years since Spaceballs skewered Star Wars, establishing its own legion of adoring fans in the process. With Disney now planning to churn out Star Wars movies on a yearly basis, the time could be right for a Spaceballs 2. Mel Brooks and MGM reportedly have been in talks about reviving Spaceballs, so perhaps we could soon see Bill Pullman back on the screen as Lone Starr. Hopefully by now he’s at least seen the original Star Wars film once.
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