Spaceballs is one of the best spoof film ever made. Mel Brooks was a genius when it came to comedy and as a fan of Star Wars, it was hilarious to see him make a comedic version of it. The film’s big star Bill Pullman recently sat down with THR to share some stories from his time working on the film. Why? Because it’s the 30th anniversary of Spaceballs and now I feel really old.
As I read the interview, I was surprised to learn that even though Pullman was playing a Han Solo type character, he had never seen Star Wars! He didn’t really know anything about who Han Solo even was! The actor said:
“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.”
I thought for sure he would’ve seen Star Wars before he made this movie, but nope. He explains that Brooks was nervous about him in the role and Pullman had never worked in the film project like this before.
“I think Mel was having trouble writing Lone Starr. It was the last character he felt conformable with because there wasn’t a voice or shtick or something that was clear. So we worked hard. I had to bump up my game fast because I had never worked in Mel’s style before.”
Everything ended up being great, though! Pullman was freakin’ awesome in the film and Brooks made another comedic masterpiece.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when Pullman thinks about his time on Spaceballs is sunglasses. The thought of sunglasses makes him laugh, and the reason is because the crew would wear sunglasses in-between takes because they thought the blue screen would make them go blind! He explained:
“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 was so hard to work the comedy in between takes when everyone was wearing sunglasses.”
That’s hilarious! Why would anyone think that blue screen would damage your optic nerve and make them pass out or go blind!? Regardless of that little fear, Pullman said some of the actors didn’t care and “ditched the shades.”
Pullman went on to talk about working alongside the great John Candy, who played Barf. Apparently, early on in the production Candy was having a tough time. Along with some of the mechanical issues with his costume, he started out the shoot butting heads with Brooks.
One of the first scenes Candy shot was the introduction of the Barf and Lone Star and Barf was fixing a snack while listening to Bon Jovi on the Winnebago spacecraft. Pullman said:
“That was a trying day for John. He wanted to play it a certain way, Mel wanted it a different way and then he had to deal with the mechanical issues of the ears and tail. John’s sense of comedy was so ephemeral, it was these shy, short moments and there was real difficulty delivering that while trusting the ears and him wanting more control over the tail.”
Regardless of the trials that Candy was facing when making the movie, the guy always kept his cool on the set.
“It was a real testimony to his character that he never yelled. He never got angry. He would sit down, say he needed a break and everyone would just back off. Then he would get up and say ‘OK, let’s try it again.'”
I miss seeing John Candy in movies. Pullman talks about a lot of other stuff that you can read here. One of those stories is about he pissed off the makeup artist one day because he wasn’t behaving like a big star and drove a 1972 Plymouth Valiant that kept breaking down on him. Sounds like it was an all-around great experience for him.