Galaxy Quest: 13 secrets you might not have known

1999 Tim Allen stars in the new movie "Galaxy Quest." Photo Dreamworks
1999 Tim Allen stars in the new movie "Galaxy Quest." Photo Dreamworks /

A new book details the making of the loving Star Trek spoof, Galaxy Quest.

Want an expose of Galaxy Quest’s tortured and torrid production? You won’t find it in Matt McAllister’s Galaxy Quest: The Inside Story, the lavishly illustrated volume from Hero Collector Books. But you won’t find it anywhere else, either! By all accounts, making the now-classic 1999 sci-fi action comedy, which lovingly lampoons Star Trek while celebrating its spirit and its fans, was a joyous experience.

The cast and crew who brought Galaxy Quest to the screen faced creative and artistic challenges. But McAllister depicts a production everyone, on both sides of the camera, found professionally and personally fulfilling.

In tribute to the movie’s Omega-13 device, here are 13 fun facts from the book that you may not have known about Galaxy Quest.

13 Galaxy Quest secrets you didn’t know

1. Ultimately, Leonard Nimoy’s voice inspired Galaxy Quest.

The idea for Galaxy Quest first flickered through story writer David Howard’s mind when, in 1994, he saw a trailer for the IMAX documentary Destiny in Space, which the late Leonard Nimoy narrated. Hearing Nimoy’s familiar tones made Howard ponder “how hopelessly typecast actors like that can be.”

2. Tim Allen intentionally tried not to channel William Shatner.

Playing Jason Nesmith, an actor typecast as a starship captain, Tim Allen had no desire to impersonate William Shatner. Allen modeled the way he sat in the NSEA Protector’s command chair after the way Yul Brynner sits on his throne in The Ten Commandments (1956).

3. Harold Ramis was originally tapped to direct.

After meeting with Allen, the Ghostbusters scribe and director of Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, and more said he wanted “an action star who can be funny, not a comedian who might be able to do action” in the main role and left, clearing the way for Dean Parisot.

4. Parisot brought the faux Galaxy Quest TV show forward in time.

Ramis had approved ship and set designs appropriate to the 1960s production values of Star Trek: The Original Series. Instead, Parisot wanted the late ‘70s/early ‘80s aesthetic of Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for the glimpses we get of the Thermians’ “historical documents.”

5. The studio wanted Galaxy Quest fans out of the picture.

DreamWorks pushed Parisot and scriptwriter Robert Gordon to scrap the Galaxy Quest devotees who save the day. Thankfully, Gordon and Parisot prevailed, preserving the movie’s heart as a love letter to science fiction fans as much as to science fiction like Star Trek.

6. The Protector crashes into a miniature convention hall.

Model makers spent weeks replicating the Galaxy Quest con in miniature for a one-sixth scale model of the Protector command module to plow into. The mini-con artifacts “included everything from Galaxy Quest banners to tiny VHS tapes of… The Last Starfighter and Daylight.”

7. Sigourney Weaver used her character to pay tribute to pretty but “pigeonholed” aspiring actresses.

Making Gwen DeMarco a buxom blonde was Weaver’s way of honoring, in her words, “confident women [who] come to Hollywood wanting to be the next Marilyn Monroe,” but who are “pigeonholed” because of their looks. DreamWorks had envisioned Gwen as a brunette, but Weaver insisted she be blonde with, again in her words, “huge bazooms.”

8. Daryl Mitchell “blew off” Steven Spielberg when he first met him.

Mitchell, who plays Tommy Webber, tells a funny story about his first meeting with Spielberg on set: “I said, ‘Mr. Spielberg, I would love to talk to you, but right now I am making a movie’—and he cracked up, man!”

9. Mathesar was named for a famous science fiction author with a Star Trek connection.

Mathesar, the Thermians’ leader, was originally named “Betzalar.” Concerns the name was too close to Dan Aykroyd’s Conehead character Beldar prompted a change. The new moniker was a nod to sci-fi, fantasy, and horror author Richard Matheson, who wrote numerous Twilight Zone episodes as well as “The Enemy Within” for Star Trek.

10. Rainn Wilson goes MIA midway through the movie.

Six years before The Office and 18 before he’d play Harry Mudd in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, Rainn Wilson played Lahnk, one of the Thermians who recruits Nesmith. He had to leave mid-production to film The Expendables with Sylvester Stallone. “It was one of the worst TV pilots of all time,” says Wilson. “The Thermians would have loved it.”

11. Galaxy Quest was originally to be rated PG-13.

The final cut left out some extremely violent moments, much overt sexual suggestiveness, and a perfectly placed F-bomb from Weaver. But the cast and crew now generally agree PG is Galaxy Quest’s sweet spot.

12. The Protector’s registry number contains a secret message.

Galaxy Quest’s creative team worried Paramount would sue if their starship too closely resembled the Enterprise. When the movie shifted from PG-13 to PG, the ship’s registry prefix changed from the suggestive “STD” to “NTE”‘—“Not The Enterprise.”

13. Sarris’s ship pays subtle homage to a classic Star Trek alien vessel.

The K’ragk Vort’t is an organic vessel whose maw glows with malevolent light reminiscent of the Planet Killer from “The Doomsday Machine,” per ILM visual effects supervisor Bill George.

Next. Simon Pegg of Star Trek is trying to launch a Galaxy Quest TV series. dark