Galaxy Quest: Tim Allen's Goofy Behavior On Set Was The Key To The Film's Magic

The 1999 Sci-fi spoof "Galaxy Quest" featured a cast loaded with film and television stars, including Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shaloub,  and Tim Allen. While Rickman was schooled at London's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and had an extensive theater background, Allen was a former standup comic coming off an eight year run as Tim "Tool Man" Taylor on the sitcom "Home Improvement." The distinction between Rickman's formal, serious manner and Allen's goofy irreverence was written into their characters, but this difference didn't prevent both Rickman and the film's director from crediting Allen's humor with helping make the film the unique gem it became.

Rickman, whose "Galaxy Quest" character Alexander Dane was — like Rickman — a former Shakespearean actor, told, "Tim Allen used to kick the door open to the make-up trailer. We would be all lined up and he would say 'Number one is here!'" Director Dean Parisot added some context to Allen's behavior, saying his feigned arrogance was taken in stride by his co-stars, including Rickman. 

"You can't get annoyed at Tim," Parisot said. "Tim is like your little brother who comes in and just goofs around. Maybe it got annoying for Alan, but you could never tell whether that was Alan being in character or Alan actually responding to Tim." Daryl "Chill" Mitchell, who played helmsman Tommy Webber, agreed that Allen's antics often left his castmates in stitches. "They would call action four times," Mitchell recalled. "But we didn't hear because we were laughing so hard. And Alan is looking at us like, 'Really, man?'"

Alan Rickman compared his time on Galaxy Quest to his Harry Potter experience

Missi Pyle, who played Lailani the Thermian, said " I think Alan had a great time, I just think he was like ... what exactly are you doing?" And Alan Rickman said as much, invoking one of his famous characters to demonstrate how actors morph into character in makeup rooms. "When you have the clothes and makeup of the character on, something happens," Rickman explained. "Like 10 years of playing Snape  ... as soon as you sew up those buttons and put the black wig on, something happens, because that is what you have to rely on."

Sigourney Weaver, who came to "Galaxy Quest" fresh from her third "Alien" film to play crew member Gwen DeMarco, agreed that Tim Allen's humor broke up the monotony on set." I think that is the only persona Tim has," Weaver said. "There's a lot of waiting around. Tim never stopped joking."

Alan Rickman and Tim Allen's differences in behavior on the set of "Galaxy Quest could best be considered a case of both men playing to their strengths on both sides of the camera. As Allen so succinctly put it in distinguishing himself from his classically trained co-star, "I am not a thespian. I am a trained standup comedian."

Tim Allen reached back to the 1950s for some of the inspiration for Commander Peter Quincy Taggart

But while Tim Allen obviously tried to have as much fun as possible both on the set and behind the scenes of "Galaxy Quest," he also brought his A-game in the film's serious moments. When it came time to find a way to portray a regal bearing as the commander of the NSEA-Protector, he turned to a true cinematic epic for inspiration. 

"When I was in that Captain's chair I was not mimicking William Shatner, with whom I'm now friends because of this movie," Allen said. "I liked the way Yul Brynner sat in his throne in 'The Ten Commandments.' I worked off of that. I studied that." Missy Pyle had high praise for Allen with regards to a key scene in the film that was also well clear of Allen's comedic wheelhouse.  "That scene where Tim tells Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni) that we lied, Pyle said,  "it's so sweet, so beautiful, so sad."

Though viewers may not know it the first time they see the sci-fi spoof, Tim Allen was doing as much behind the camera as he was in front of it.