Galaxy Quest is part Star Trek spoof, part touching space opera, part documentary explaining what would happen if an alien race intercepted one of our ridiculous Earth science-fiction TV series. The premise is simple enough: a race of ingenuous aliens watch the intrepid adventures of the NSEA Protector in Galaxy Quest, a ‘70s TV show in the same style as Star Trek, and mistake the small screen action for the real thing. The aliens transport the washed-up actors to space to help them in their fight against their genocidal enemy, Sarris, and the out-of-work actors are forced to become the heroes the aliens believe them to be.
What could have been just another one of many forgettable science fiction spoofs, became instead a beloved cult comedy. The creators display a genuine affection for the subject matter and understanding of the genre, with the day being saved by the dedication of the fictional show’s obsessive fans.
Starring a combination of comedy and science fiction titans – Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Sam Rockwell – the movie starts off as a mocking parody and becomes a joyful celebration of the entire genre. A movie that taught us never to give up and never to surrender, Galaxy Quest is one of the most quotable parodies ever made. By Grabthar’s Hammer, it is not too late for a sequel!
Here are 15 Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About Galaxy Quest.
15. Fan Theory that Galaxy Quest Is Actually A Reality Show
Galaxy Quest is a show within a show. The movie creates a universe where the fictional show, its actors, and its adoring fans are realistically and affectionately portrayed. When the actors from the cheesy sci-fi show beat the Big Bad, they get their show renewed for another season in the process.
Some fans have hypothesized that this new run of the show is no longer a show within a show but a reality show. After finding out that it is all real, the government or the filmmakers realize the potential. If they send the old actors on actual adventures in space, the crew would be getting work once again, the Thermians would be thrilled, and Earth could explore the Universe.
14. Alan Rickman’s Death Halted Plans For A Sequel
When Alan Rickman passed away in 2016, it was a huge loss for stage and screen. Sadly, that very year, Amazon were in talks to turn the 1999 Galaxy Quest movie into a TV show. Although not a huge financial hit, the cult following that the comedy sci-fi garnered made it appealing to the streaming service.
In an interview with Nerdist, Sam Rockwell explained how close Amazon were to a sequel but scheduling was difficult and finally impossible when Alan Rickman passed away. “And how do you fill that void of Alan Rickman?” Rockwell said, “That’s a hard void to fill.”
Apparently, Amazon did not totally give up on the project and Paul Scheer has been brought in to bring his own take on the material. It is currently not clear whether the sequel will feature any of the original actors. We can only wait and see.
13. Sigourney Weaver Was Not The First Choice For Gwen
When asked to think of strong women in science-fiction, Sigourney Weaver is one of the first faces to come to mind. She inspired millions as the iconically awesome Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise and her career has hardly halted, starring as the elegant villain in Netflix’s The Defenders this year and set to appear in a shedload of Avatar sequels soon.
It may come as a surprise to hear that Weaver was not the first choice to play Gwen DeMarco in Galaxy Quest.
Gwen, the attractive token female crew member, whose only role was to repeat the ship’s computer, was originally envisioned as a “science-fiction virgin” according to Weaver. Luckily for us, Weaver felt that was silly, as if anyone knew how to spoof science fiction, it was her, and she was cast as the blonde bombshell, subverting the stereotype perfectly.
12. Alan Rickman Didn’t Like Tim Allen
Tim Allen has recalled how his acting process was not quite on a par with that of fellow crew member and veteran thespian Alan Rickman when they first began filming. They did not immediately get on.
Allen was a stage performer and comic, while Rickman was a classically trained actor and member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. As Rickman’s character Alexander Dane fittingly said in the movie, he played Richard the Third on stage: “I was an actor once, damn it!”
Allen goes on to say that during the course of filming, the unlikely pair became close friends. Allen described how Rickman would always bring gifts to dinner parties and managed to play a guy who’s forced to wear a rubber head with real class and gravitas.
11. Sigourney Weaver’s F-Bomb Had to Be Cut
Originally Galaxy Quest was not envisioned as the family friendly movie that audiences know and love.
A chunk of swearing had to be cut out to get the film to the PG-13 rating that would give it the widest appeal. The most obvious change is in the scene were Gwen and Jason come face to face with the Chompers, huge metal pillars that behave like pointless Indiana Jones’ traps, for no other reason that that they existed like that on the show.
Gwen says what anyone would in that situation: “Well, screw that! Whoever wrote this episode should die!”
Except she didn’t originally say that. The first sentence is fairly obviously dubbed over to remove the F-Bomb.
10. Tim Allen’s Performance Wasn’t Based on Shatner
Tim Allen plays washed-up actor Jason Nesmith, who in turn plays heroic Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. The Commander of the NSEA Protector is known for his charismatic speeches, way with the ladies, and tendency to commando roll into combat shirtless.
The similarities with William Shatner’s Captain Kirk are obvious and Allen said that he became friends with Shatner following filming. Yet according to Allen, he based his performance of the Commander more closely on another famous actor.
Allen said he liked the way Yul Brynner sat in his throne in The Ten Commandments. “I worked off of that. I studied that. Well, I rented the tape,” he quipped in an interview for the 15th anniversary of the movie. You don’t get much more commanding than that.
9. There’s An Intentionally Bad Fan Website
Continuing to be on point in every way, Galaxy Quest has an intentionally bad fan website.
A movie spoofing Star Trek, fandom in general, sci-fi movies, and TV and movie clichés absolutely needed a tacky, hyperactive fansite for its rabid fans. The design is horrible; flashy, colorful and in no particular order. There are interviews with the cast and genuine descriptions of episodes in an episode guide, all supposedly made by an obsessive fan named Travis Latke.
Sadly, the site is not available in its original form any longer but its archived site can still be seen in all its glory. The tragedy and the triumph of this ridiculous piece of work is that many fans of the movie probably never saw this site. It is a literal piece of art.
8. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin almost starred
Tim Allen embodies the obnoxious Commander in Galaxy Quest. It is difficult to imagine another actor as the self-obsessed, shirtless, Shatner-esque leader but Allen was not the original choice for the lead role.
The original director preferred Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline, or Steve Martin to play Jason Nesmith/Peter Quincy Taggart but all those choices either fell through or were overruled.
At the same time, Tim Allen was almost cast in Bicentennial Man instead. Another sci-fi comedy that came out the same year, it centred around a robot who explores human emotion and creativity. Ultimately, Tim Allen chose Galaxy Quest over Bicentennial Man and the movie ended up starring comedy great Robin Williams instead. Sadly, Bicentennial Man failed at box office, so Allen might be as glad as we are that he chose Galaxy Quest.
7. Steven Spielberg Gave Us The Alien Love Subplot
It is difficult to forget the moment when Laliari, the female Thermian crewmember, falls in love with Fred Kwan, the man who plays Tech Sergeant Chen.
Naturally a greyish/purplish octopus-like alien, the Thermians take on a human form to be able to easier communicate with the Earth crew. Laliari snuggles her new beau with her tentacles, which only seems to appeal to Kwan more. As she fully transforms into her natural form, the two sink to the ground out of shot, all as crewmate Guy looks on in confusion. The rest is left up to the imagination.
Apparently, this amusing romantic subplot is all thanks to veteran director Steven Spielberg. When Spielberg visited the set, he liked Missi Pyle’s characterisation of Laliari so much that he suggested she should be given a larger role, so the romance with Fred Kwan was added. There’s a reason Spielberg is considered a genius.
6. Patrick Stewart Disapproved (At First)
At first, Patrick Stewart, who starred as the indomitable Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, refused to see Galaxy Quest. It is understandable that the ex-Captain might have assumed the film was poking fun about a show that he cared about and not wished to see it. Yet, he is quoted as saying that Jonathon Frakes, who played Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Picard’s second in command, change his mind and told him he had to see the movie.
After a watch of Galaxy Quest, Stewart was converted. William Shatner, the original Captain of the Enterprise, also apparently became friends with the cast of the spoof. We can all rest assured that the movie comes with Kirk and Picard’s approval.
5. Ghostbusters’ Harold Ramis Was Originally Set To Direct
Harold Ramis defined the comedic tastes of a generation. Known for Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day, he was almost responsible for Galaxy Quest too.
Under the title Captain Starshine, the sci-fi comedy was originally given to Harold Ramis to direct in 1998. Originally Ramis wanted Kevin Kline for the lead role but when Kline turned down the part, Ramis suggested Alec Baldwin. When Dreamworks insisted on casting Tim Allen in the lead role, Ramis left the project and Dean Parisot took over.
After seeing the finished product, Ramis is said to have admitted that Allen did the role justice. Audiences are inclined to agree but it is a shame that we will never know what a Galaxy Quest with Ramis at the helm and Kline or Baldwin in the lead role would have looked like.
4. There’s a Galaxy Quest Mockumentary
Before big-budget cinematic universes and shared continuity, some movies nailed their marketing in the most unique ways possible.
Prior to the release of the movie in 1999, the US entertainment channel E! featured a mockumentary entitled Galaxy Quest: 20th Anniversary, The Journey Continues. The documentary was presented in the same style as real-life ones on the making of Star Trek, featuring fake interviews of the series’ cast (portrayed by the actors of the actual film), Questerians, and critics.
It explored how Galaxy Quest became “America’s Number 1 Science-Fiction Cult Classic”, as well as elaborating on the actors’ fictional backgrounds and how they ended up on the show.
The whole glorious thing can be watched here and is an absolute must-see for fans.
3. The Alien Warlord Sarris Is Named After A Film Critic
Villainous insectoid General Sarris is as deceptive as he is over the top. An arrogant, monologuing maniac, Sarris is the main antagonist in Galaxy Quest with simple, genocidal goals to wipe out the cheerful Thermians and steal the Omega 13 Device.
The green-skinned and armored Sarris wears a metallic eye-patch in homage to popular Star Trek baddie General Chang. He is also reportedly named after Andrew Sarris, a film critic who previously targeted producer Mark Johnson’s films with negative reviews.
Andrew Sarris had very publicly disliked Johnson’s previous film, The Natural. In response to the unusual homage, Sarris apparently joked that the movie “probably won’t make enough money for me to sue for $10 million.” Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
2. Guy Fleegman Was Named After an unknown Star Trek actor
Unexpected fan favourite Guy Fleegman only made a brief appearance in the original Galaxy Quest TV series but ended up in the “real life” adventures that the washed-up actors find themselves in. Guy brought a lot of humor to the situation as he was constantly paranoid that he would be the”redshirt” who would die to prove how perilous the situation is to the audience.
The character was named after Guy Vardaman, a man who had played several unnamed characters in The Next Generation and served as the occasional stand-in for the more well-known Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton. Rather like Guy Fleegman during the movie, Guy Vardaman could hardly believe he was being honored in that way as “the plucky comic relief.”
1. It’s The Seventh Greatest Star Trek Movie Ever
At a 2013 Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, a panel ranked the Trek movies. The results were pretty much as you might expect, with Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan as top of the list, followed by Star Trek: First Contact, and finally Star Trek Into Darkness ingloriously bringing up the rear.
While some fans maintained that the reboots should not be even considered on the list, it might come as a surprise to find spoof Galaxy Quest ranked along with the 12 official Trek movies.
The hatred of the new Trek franchise is hardly a shock but finding Galaxy Quest at seventh in the ranking is far more exciting. It is easy to see why. The movie captures the heart and soul of the Trek franchise and its fans.
Do you have any Galaxy Quest trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!
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