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Galaxy Quest Facts To Prepare Fans For The Paramount+ TV Series

First released in 1999, "Galaxy Quest" is a sci-fi comedy that acts as a parody of the "Star Trek" series and its fandom. The likes of Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman star as cast members of a fictional television show who now make a living appearing at fan conventions. An alien race with no concept of fiction arrives on Earth believing that the show was actually a portrayal of real events. They transport the cast away to battle the evil Sarris, thrusting the actors into a very real intergalactic conflict that mirrors their exploits from the television series.

"Galaxy Quest" launched to plenty of praise from critics but failed to set the box office alight, with a gross of just over $90 million against a budget of $45 million. While it could be considered a flop, it has developed a strong cult following in the intervening years. With reports that a new television series based on the film is in the works for Paramount+, now seems like a good time to look back at "Galaxy Quest" and learn some little-known facts about the movie.

The villain was named after a film critic

The main villain of "Galaxy Quest" is General Roth'h'ar Sarris, a homicidal warlord determined to wipe out the remaining Thermians and also capture the Omega 13 device. He had previously destroyed the Thermian homeworld with his army of Fatu-Krey, a species of green-skinned creatures that resemble humanoid reptiles. Much of the film follows the crew of the fictional television series attempting to stop him from defeating the Thermians once and for all.

What many people may not know is that Roth'h'ar Sarris is actually named after The New York Observer's noted film critic Andrew Sarris. He was said to be one of the most influential film critics ever and was lauded by the likes of Roger Ebert for the way he helped propagate the idea of Auteur Theory – that the director is the primary creative force behind a movie — when critiquing films. During his career, he also wrote for Film Culture and The Village Voice in addition to his work with The Observer.

According to Entertainment Weekly, producer Mark Johnson confirmed that the name of the villain was a choice between Sarris and Haskell, the surname of Sarris's wife Molly. The report suggests that this may be because Sarris had criticized Johnson's previous film "The Natural," although Sarris himself didn't seem to mind too much, saying, "I'm 70 years old. This guy wants to insult me? Oh, boohoo. As long as they spelled my name right, I'm okay."

The Office's Rainn Wilson made his movie debut in Galaxy Quest

Rainn Wilson is undoubtedly best known for his work in the NBC sitcom "The Office," where he played the character Dwight Schrute throughout all nine seasons of the show. But the award-winning actor was active long before he was cast in "The Office." In fact, his first movie role arrived in 1999, when he joined "Galaxy Quest" to play Lahnk, one of the Thermian aliens.

Unfortunately, Wilson only appears sporadically throughout "Galaxy Quest" and his main scene is missing from the theatrical release — although it can be seen online with other deleted scenes. According to the actor, who spoke to IGN in 2019 about the movie, director Dean Parisot wanted him to appear more heavily in the film but he was unable to, due to a contract situation with NBC where he had already agreed to appear in a pilot for a new television series. The actor also revealed that he had trouble remembering his lines and was nervous to appear alongside such high-profile stars.

"I kept forgetting my line," Wilson explained. "I couldn't get it right, especially because there were all these A-list movie stars behind me. There's Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell and Tony Shalhoub. I just kept blanking. I got so nervous, I remember my tinfoil suit was filled with sweat. It was just terrifying!"

The alien actors went to alien acting school

"Galaxy Quest" contains a number of different alien species, including the baby-like Blue Demons and the rock creatures called Gorignak, but the two main extra-terrestrial races shown in the movie are the Thermians and the Fatu-Krey. Each of these are major characters in the movie: the first is an oppressed species looking to the fictional Galaxy Quest crew to save them while the Fatu-Krey are a bloodthirsty race looking to enslave the Thermians and destroy their culture.

These aliens often steal the show with their slapstick comedy and brilliantly timed remarks. But this wasn't easily achieved, with the actors who portrayed the Thermians in particular having to go through a sort of alien boot camp. Director Dean Parisot explained to IGN how the alien cast all met together for an alien school, where they would come up with ideas for how the aliens would talk, walk, and behave. This was important because the Thermians were disguised in human form and still had the physical characteristics of their original shape.

"During alien school, we all threw out all kinds of ideas," said Parisot. "I'm basically the conductor, but they're coming up with the performance. I have no idea where everything came from, nor do I remember it, but it was fun."

It was named the 7th best Star Trek film

Although it isn't explicitly stated within the film, "Galaxy Quest" is very much inspired by the world of "Star Trek." It parodies not only the franchise but also the dedicated fandom that has developed around the various "Trek" TV series and films. Scriptwriter David Howard even spoke about how the idea for the film came to him after watching Leonard Nimoy do a voiceover for an upcoming movie.

The connection between "Galaxy Quest" and "Star Trek" is so close that many people actually consider it a "Star Trek" release. Even former "Star Trek" actors have spoken about their admiration for the movie. The original Hikaru Sulu, George Takei, told StarTrek.com, "I think it is a chillingly realistic documentary," adding that he recognized many of the details within it, while Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" have admitted to being fans. Frakes told Collider, "Some of the stuff in it is so on the nose and so accurate, and perfect, and funny."

So it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to learn that "Star Trek" fans hold "Galaxy Quest" in pretty high esteem. As part of the Star Trek 2013 convention in Las Vegas, attendees named it the seventh greatest film in the franchise. That means it beat out the likes of "Star Trek Generations" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Alan Rickman and Tim Allen didn't get along at first

Two of the stars of "Galaxy Quest" were Tim Allen and Alan Rickman. The Buzz Lightyear voice actor and sitcom star played Jason Nesmith in the film, a cocky exhibitionist who craves attention. Meanwhile, Rickman was responsible for bringing Alexander Dane to life on screen, an actor who had portrayed the fictional alien science officer on board the NSEA Protector.

Both were already established actors who had appeared in hits such as "Die Hard," "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," and "The Santa Clause" before landing leading parts in "Galaxy Quest." This might be why they butted heads when they first appeared together in the sci-fi comedy. Writing in The Hollywood Reporter, Allen revealed that when the pair first met, he very much got the impression that Rickman didn't like him because of the way that Allen joked around on set.

However, after seeing how hard the comic was working during filming, Rickman eventually came around and apologized to his co-star. He admitted that as a classically trained actor, he initially didn't think Allen showed the same amount of commitment. After this apology, the two became good friends, with Rickman regularly visiting Allen at his home.

The movie was originally going to be R-rated

When "Galaxy Quest" was first pitched, the idea wasn't for it to be rated PG. In fact, it would have been rated R if executives at Dreamworks hadn't meddled with the final cut and asked for a more family-friendly version. Original screenwriter David Howard explained to MTV that the initial script was far darker and more mature than what ended up in the theatrical release. In addition to more sexual content, Howard recalled, "When the ship lands in the convention hall in the original draft it decapitates a bunch of people."

In the same interview, producer Mark Johnson expressed disappointment that they didn't fight harder to make the movie PG-13, as it meant removing one of the best jokes in the film when Sigourney Weaver's character shouts "F**k that!" The line was, rather obviously, redubbed for the final edit with the character replacing the f-bomb with the word "screw" instead. Producer Lindsey Collins also revealed that Weaver had told her about a version of the film that involved much more profanity and involved sex scenes that were later dropped.

Many high-profile actors were nearly in the movie

Although it might be difficult to imagine the cast of "Galaxy Quest" being any different, many of the characters in the film were almost played by completely different actors. Part of this is because the original director, Harold Ramis, did not want anyone involved in the film to have previously worked on sci-fi projects before — a decision that almost scuppered any chance of Sigourney Weaver appearing in "Galaxy Quest." Ramis also expressed displeasure at the idea of Tim Allen being cast in the lead role and departed in protest.

Other actors who were offered the role of Jason Nesmith during early production included Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline, with each offering reasons why they didn't want to take part in the film. This was not the only part that had other potential actors waiting in the wings. Jennifer Coolidge auditioned for the role of the Thermian alien Laliari, which eventually went to Missi Pyle, while David Allen Grier was in contention for Daryl Mitchell's Tommy Webber character. Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kieran Culkin, and Tom Everett Scott all read for the part of superfan Brandon, with the role eventually going to Justin Long.

There's an entire fake documentary about Galaxy Quest

The entire story of "Galaxy Quest" revolves around a group of actors who were originally part of the cast of a TV show of the same name. In the fictional universe that the movie takes place in, the show was a real series that involved the crew of a spaceship — known as the NSEA Protector — as they journeyed through space. Finding it difficult to secure work after the series has ended, the actors played by Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, and Sigourney Weaver are forced to try and make money by attending fan conventions that take advantage of the show's dedicated following.

To try and keep up the pretense that the "Galaxy Quest" television show is a real product, a promotional mockumentary was developed to help market the film. Airing on E! in the US, "Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary: The Journey Continues" was a half-hour special that included fake behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast of the show as well as features with seemingly real critics and fans of the series.

Steven Spielberg was a visitor to the set and influenced the film

The fact that "Galaxy Quest" was produced by DreamWorks Pictures meant that director Steven Spielberg had some involvement in the film as one of the co-owners of the company. That meant that he would occasionally visit the set to talk to the director and producers to see how the project was moving along. On one particular day, he happened to be on set during the shooting of Tim Allen's confession scene, a performance the actor had been worried about until director Dean Parisot gave him confidence by telling him that he did a great job.

Spielberg was even more influential when it came to how certain characters were portrayed on set. The character of Brandon, played by Justin Long, was almost cut entirely from the film. But Spielberg felt that this part was essential to the story, as it provided a human element that viewers could connect with. He also played a major part in ensuring that Missi Pyle's Thermian character Laliari had a romance subplot with Fred Kwan.

Spielberg almost had one final effect on "Galaxy Quest" when he called his frequent collaborator Stan Winston to suggest that the Thermians needed to look more human in their natural form. This happened just two weeks before filming was due to start and would have left Winston and his team with a huge amount of work to do. Fortunately, Winston was able to convince Spielberg to stick with the original design.

A Galaxy Quest revival halted when Alan Rickman died

Although "Galaxy Quest" was not a huge box office success, the continuing popularity of the film and its strong critical reception led to calls for the story to continue, either as a film or TV series. The cast of the original film, including Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, expressed their interest in returning to the roles, but a continuation of the story has yet to materialize. Allen even suggested in The Hollywood Reporter that a revival was in the works.

Whatever plans were in the works were put on indefinite pause when Alan Rickman died at the age of 69 in 2016 after being diagnosed with cancer several years earlier. Fellow "Galaxy Quest" co-star Sam Rockwell explained that a sequel on Prime Video had been planned, but Rickman's death and Tim Allen's scheduling problems due to "Last Man Standing" meant it was unlikely to move forward, especially since Alexander Dane was such an important part of the story. He went on to say, "How do you fill that void of Alan Rickman? That's a hard void to fill."

Galaxy Quest had a detailed official fan site

In addition to the mockumentary that was created as a unique way to promote "Galaxy Quest," there was also an official fake fan site published on the web as part of the marketing push. Purposely designed to look like the fan sites of the late '90s and early '00s that had colorful text, ugly visuals, and strange layouts, it also contains a surprising amount of information about the fake television show that the movie is based on.

This extends to a full episode guide that includes trivia and story summaries for whole swathes of episodes from the show. A select few episodes even have more in-depth information included in the synopsis, in addition to interviews with the pretend cast. The entire operation is allegedly run by Travis Latke, a superfan who has been able to set up the site with the help of his mother and constantly demonstrates how much he loves "Galaxy Quest" through the hidden references and devotion he shows towards the cast.

Sigourney Weaver loved her wig and costume

Sigourney Weaver was no stranger to sci-fi movies when she landed the role of Gwen DeMarco in "Galaxy Quest." After all, she had previously played Ellen Ripley in the "Alien" series, portraying the character in the original Ridley Scott film, the 1986 sequel from James Cameron, plus two additional films. But her role in the comedy was very different and the actor has since admitted she associates more with Gwen and the character Lieutenant Tawny Madison than Ripley. She told The Hollywood Reporter: "I felt like I was telling the truth about myself and science fiction through Tawny in 'Galaxy Quest.'"

In MTV's oral history of the film, Weaver and her fellow cast and crew detailed how much she enjoyed portraying Gwen and Tawny in the movie. Sam Rockwell felt her whole personality changed when she wore her blonde wig and got into costume, while producer Mark Johnson recalled that she would leave the set in her outfit: "She'd just go to her hotel with the enhanced breasts and padding and all squeezed in and it was fun." The actor loved the wig so much that she even kept it after filming was over.