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Facts Spaceballs Fans Probably Haven't Heard

If anyone was going to create a film to poke fun at the gargantuan sci-fi filmmaking extravaganza that was Star Wars, you couldn't do better than Mel Brooks. The iconic genre-hopping satirist whose works had already lampooned the realms of the Western (Blazing Saddles), the monster movie (Young Frankenstein), and the silent movie (Silent Movie, of course), Brooks set his eye on George Lucas' blockbuster behemoth — and the science-fiction genre in general — to deliver 1987's Spaceballs, the endlessly charming and hilarious space spoof that's still beloved to this day. 

But even die-hard fans might not know everything about how this lovable comedy came to be. You may know the correct way to open a fortune cookie, but do you know about the original actors in mind to play Lone Starr? You may be one with the Schwartz, but which famous author wrote the novelization of the film? It's time to get out a can of Perri-Air and fasten your seat belt because we're heading to Ludicrous Speed to uncover the facts about Spaceballs that even the fans probably haven't heard!

George Lucas gave Mel Brooks his blessing for Spaceballs

First things first — if you're going to create a film openly mocking and satirizing the biggest sci-fi blockbuster in the galaxy, you might as well try and get the seal of approval from the creator of it all. Sure, not every lampooning artist is eager to get a thumbs up from the target of their lampooning, but with such a large target on such a large scale, it wasn't the worst idea for Mel Brooks to get George Lucas' "okay" before heading into the world of satire.

And in an interview with Maxim, Brooks revealed that the father of Star Wars himself, George Lucas, did give the film his seal of approval. Maybe it was the distance that Lucas had from the films that gave him the room to laugh at them, or maybe it was the recent failure of his latest producing effort Howard the Duck that necessitated a good hearty chuckle, but Lucas was more than happy to let Brooks have his way with his merry band of space characters.-

Two famous Toms were considered to play Lone Starr

When filling out the cast of his space epic, Mel Brooks knew he needed a charismatic leading man to fill the Han Solo-esque role of Lone Starr, and in hindsight, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Bill Pullman in the role (giving a commanding performance in what was only his second-ever feature film appearance). But in the early days of casting for the film, Brooks seemed to have his sights set on two of the biggest Toms in the industry.

That's right. According to Geek Tyrant, both Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks were Brooks' ideal casting choices for the lead in Spaceballs. Both stars were sadly unavailable, so Brooks turned to the local actors in the Los Angeles theater scene and discovered Pullman trodding the boards. Mel ended up trading in two Toms for a Bill, which certainly paid off in the end.

Mel Brooks did not enjoy his Yogurt makeup

In typical Brooks-ian fashion, the filmmaker pulled double duty in Spaceballs, playing not only the vile and villainous President Skroob but the wise, sage Yoda-parody named, what else, Yogurt. Yogurt is a pretty fun take on the little green Jedi, with Brooks' classic wiseguy humor adding to the mystical master who teaches Lone Starr the ways of the powerful Schwartz. But even with the weight of Brooks throwing his comedy genius in front of and behind the camera, the character of Yogurt ended up being way more than he bargained for.

Yogurt's iconic golden skin looked great on the set and on the screen, but according to The A.V. Club, Brooks ended up having a severe allergic reaction to the stuff, causing a rash that he thought was going to kill him. It took heaps and heaps of Benadryl to keep himself sane and moving through the shoot, and Brooks was able to make it out alive, but don't expect to see him donning any golden paint anytime soon.

The Spaceballs cast thought the blue screen would blind them

Sometimes it's easy to forget in our CGI-focused world of special effects, but the advent of major computer-generated special effects is a fairly recent development in the world of Hollywood blockbusters. To make the world of Spaceballs come alive, Brooks wanted to ensure that his film had effects to rival the original Star Wars trilogy in an attempt to even further the scope of his satirical aims.

But given that these were the early days of blue-screen technology, much of the cast and crew were new to this technique, and there was a lot to get used to in the world of futuristic filmmaking. According to The Hollywood Reporter, much of the crew thought that exposure to the blue-screen technology could actually make you go blind, so the actors were encouraged to wear sunglasses during these scenes. Many of the actors ended up ditching the shades, though, and their eyes were somehow able to escape the horrors of the blue screen.

John Candy had trouble with his Barf costume

What's not to love about Barf, the lovable mog ("Part man, part dog — I'm my own best friend") brought to life by the late, great John Candy? The ridiculous comedic sidekick to the slick, cool Lone Starr, Barf brings a borscht-belt tinge to this pseudo-Chewbacca parody in one of the film's most memorable performances. But Candy had a mess of problems that came along with his character's iconic design. The character looks phenomenal, but at what cost?

Part of Barf's appeal is his simple yet charming design, answering the question we were all thinking, "What if John Candy looked like a dog?" But while it was a pretty awesome costume, the issue with Barf came from Candy's frustration at not having any control over his automated ears and tail (via Cinema Blend). After all, Candy was an actor known for his genius comedic timing, and not having the ability use his canine features to his own hilarious advantage greatly annoyed him. Clearly, his greatest performance of all was hiding that frustration from all of us watching the movie years later.

The Pizza the Hutt costume wasn't fun to wear

One of the most notable points of parody in Spaceballs is the disgusting monstrosity himself, Pizza the Hutt, a hideous mound of cheese and sauce that makes Jabba the Hutt look like Harrison Ford. The gooey and ghoulish mob boss — voiced by Brooks regular Dom DeLuise — is the catalyst for Lone Starr and Barf to head off on their star-gazing mission in the first place, all before Pizza ends up destroying himself in a cruel but delicious twist of fate.

Cruel and delicious as he may be, filming the Pizza the Hutt segments was an almost nightmarish task for effects artist Richard Karen. He was the one actually wearing the suit, and he complained terribly of having to don a costume covered in (admittedly fake) molten cheese. According to Strange Kids Club, when the time came to film reshoots, Karen outright refused to reprise the role, with another effects artist, Rick Lazzarini, taking his place. It goes to show that not everyone can handle the Hutt.

A spooky author wrote the Spaceballs novelization

Movie novelizations — the books for when you want to bring the magic of the movies home with you in literary form! And in the case where the book isn't better than the film, movie novelizations are another way that film studios can try and market their film outside of the usual avenues of toys, apparel, and other traditional forms of merchandising. Of course, even respected films have book versions, too, from Home Alone to Godzilla. And when it comes to Spaceballs, yeah, it's also made its way to the printed page.

Normally, a Spaceballs novelization wouldn't be a huge cause for discussion, especially since it was for a film so built on visual comedy and the actors' performances. But this novelization just happened to be written by Mr. Goosebumps himself, R.L. Stine. Five years before he would find fame with his creepy children's books, Stine had the task of adapting Spaceballs into a less-crude, novelized form. Now all we need is a crossover with Dark Helmet meeting Slappy the Dummy!

No Spaceballs action figures were allowed

If you're making a parody of Star Wars, there's no easier target than the heaps of merchandise associated with the galaxy far, far away. Spaceballs has a field day with its razor-sharp attack on shameless corporate shilling by having Yogurt promote even more shameless corporate shilling. Not content with action figures, the comedic merchandise for Spaceballs includes cereal, toilet paper, and of course, the Spaceballs flamethrower (the kids love it).

But if you're looking for actual Spaceballs merchandise, especially Spaceballs action figures, you're gonna be out of luck. Even though Lucas did give the film his blessing, this was on the condition that no merchandise or action figures could be made for the movie. The main reason for this? Lucas was afraid that Spaceballs merchandise would be confused for Star Wars figures, and he didn't want this harming sales for his goods. Though, the idea that someone might buy a Dark Helmet toy instead of a Darth Vader toy might just be the biggest joke of all.

It wasn't a critical darling upon opening

As a comedy from one of history's greatest satirists lampooning one of history's most seminal blockbusters, one would think that upon release in 1987, Spaceballs would've been heralded as a comedy landmine, rife with trenchant insight and wit that could cut through a Tauntaun. In reality, that was the furthest thing from the truth, as critics weren't entirely lining up to throw plaudits onto Brooks' space opera satire.

The critical consensus can best be summed up by Roger Ebert's less-than-stellar review, where he faults the film's comedy for just not being as sharp as Brook's previous outings and for the notion of a Star Wars parody in general being just a few years too late and not at all timely satire. Though fans still adore the film to this day, it wouldn't be honest to call it a critical sensation upon initial release.

Did someone say 'animated series?'

Like so many fabled comedies of the '80s, it was only natural that Spaceballs was awarded with that most prized of cultural markers — a completely unwarranted animated spin-off! And of course, it arrived ... about 20 years later than you might expect.

Yes, back in the ancient times of 2008, a shoddily animated take on Lone Starr, Barf, and Dark Helmet graced our television screens on the now-defunct G4 channel for a solid 13-episode run where the lovable Brooksian characters ran through a series of genre tropes and pop culture escapades. While it was fun to see these characters grace our screens again (including returning voice performances from Brooks, Daphne Zuniga, and Joan Rivers), it's hard to say if people were really curious about what the Spaceballs characters would be like in a Harry Potter parody or what would happen if the gang competed on American Idol. However, it's pretty easy to say that this was one journey that wasn't necessary to travel.

Will there be a Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money?

Though Yogurt may joke about it in the film, for many years now, a lot of fans have actually been asking for another installment in the Spaceballs saga. Heck, if there can be almost a dozen films in the Star Wars universe, why not take at least one more trip around the Spaceballs universe?

Well, Mel Brooks certainly doesn't disagree, as he's been ruminating on making the aptly titled Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money for years now. (His main stipulation is that that Rick Moranis agrees to get on board). Unfortunately, the fact that it's been more than 30 years since the original film — and Brooks hasn't directed a movie since 1995's Dracula: Dead and Loving It — leave the idea of a second Spaceballs coming into fruition as something that just might forever remain lost in a galaxy far, far away.