Spaceballs is now officially 30 years old and Bill Pullman, aka Captain Lone Starr, is taking a trip down memory lane. Spaceballs was director Mel Brooks' first movie in 6 years and wasn't exactly going to be a Star Wars parody at first. Rumor has it that the idea for the movie came from an annoyed Brooks when somebody asked what the name of his next movie was going to be. When asked, Mel Brooks yelled out "Planet Moron!" in an annoyed tone, which then ignited the idea to start working on a space adventure.
Bill Pullman recently talked with the Hollywood Reporter about working with Mel Brooks, blue screen blindness, and the comedic brilliance of Rick Moranis, as well as the late John Candy. Pullman admits that he never saw the original Star Wars trilogy before taking the role of Captain Lonestarr, who is based off of Han Solo. He explains.
"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."
Pullman said that Brooks had a hard time with the Lone Starr character because there was no obvious "shtick" or something that was easy to pull from, so they collaborated on the character together. Pullman also mentions that Mel Brooks is the master of the 5-minute power nap and that the director was always fool of energy after said nap.
Bill Pullman recalls that everybody on set had to wear sunglasses in between takes to supposedly protect their eyes from the blue screen. It was 1987 and apparently there was a "belief that the blue screen was bad for your eyes," so the actor remembers everybody on set wearing the sunglasses for a time, but ditching them midway through the production because "it was so hard to work the comedy in between takes when everybody was wearing sunglasses."
Spaceballs also starred Rick Moranis, John Candy, Daphne Zuniga, and Joan Rivers. Pullman remembers the comedic timing and patience of John Candy (Barf) who had to wear animatronic ears and an animatronic tail. Candy was forced to adapt his style of acting to his costume. Pullman had this to say.
"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 wanting more control over the tail."
"Rick really pushed the envelope more than Mel would. I think it was a part of him being younger and edgier. Mel's style was more "let's refine the line," but he would let Rick riff. Rick and John had a more conceptual style. Sometimes it would be tense. No one wants to say "that's not funny" when you're working."
Mel Brooks originally wanted Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks to play the role of Captain Lone Starr, but in the end he went with Bill Pullman who had only been in one movie up until that point and was relatively unknown. The choice worked well for both Pullman and Brooks as the movie has become a cult classic and regarded as one of Brooks' best movies. 30 years later and the demand is still there for a sequel, which Brooks is reportedly talking about doing, but no other information has been given at this time of writing. Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money? The Schwartz Awakens? Hopefully we find out sooner than later.