This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Spaceballs, Mel Brooks’ beloved mixed bag of a Star Wars spoof. To commemorate the occasion, The Hollywood Reporter had a conversation with star Bill Pullman about the film’s technical details, his own nerves about taking on what was only his second major film role, and comedic conflicts between Brooks and stars John Candy and Rick Moranis.
“Rick really pushed the envelope more than Mel would,” Pullman said in the interview. “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 more of a conceptual style. Sometimes it would be tense. No one wants to say ‘that’s not funny’ when you’re working.”
Brooks also occasionally expressed doubts about the film’s lead, Han Solo/Luke Skywalker hybrid Lone Starr. “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.” That frustration apparently extended to Pullman himself, at least on occasion. “I remember at one point during rehearsals Mel asked, ‘Does this tire you out?’ I must have had a look of exhaustion. I told him I was fine, and he said ‘Well, I just don’t want you to be doing the press tour and go, ‘Oh, I know how to play the line now!’”
The interview’s weirdest reveal, though, is that Pullman had never seen the massively popular characters he was parodying. “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.”