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10 Behind-The-Scenes Stories About 'Spaceballs'

List RulesVote up the most over-the-top facts about the making of Mel Brooks’s sci-fi comedy classic.

As far as Mel Brooks comedies go, 1987's Spaceballs is usually ranked among the likes of Blazing SaddlesThe Producers, and Young Frankenstein as among his best. It combines an all-star cast of comedic actors with Brooks's signature joke-a-minute sensibility to parody not just Star Wars but the entire science fiction genre

But while Spaceballs is regarded as a great comedy, it's also an impressive technical achievement. Brooks wanted the special effects in Spaceballs to be as good as the ones from the movies he was parodying; to achieve this, he hired the same people who made those effects: George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic team.

  • 1

    Rick Moranis Improvised The Scene Where Dark Helmet Plays With Dolls

    In the 1970s, Rick Moranis was a fixture on Canada's SCTV sketch comedy show, and he starred in some of the '80s' best comedies. Dark Helmet is one of his most ridiculous and beloved characters.

    "Rick would try and break me up just before we would do a take, but he would drop the visor," recalled George Wyner, who played Colonel Sandurz. "So he could laugh his little tuchus off, and no one knew. And I'm ruining the take, because I'm laughing. And all I see are his little knees shaking a little bit."

    In 2015, Rick Moranis told The Hollywood Reporter that he improvised the dialogue from the scene where Lord Helmet plays with Spaceballs action figures. Though he wasn't feeling well that day on set, Moranis came up with the hilarious "Your helmet is so big" line. The mark of a true pro.

    Ludicrous fact?
  • 2

    The Name Of The Film Was Inspired By Mel Brooks Spilling A Drink On Himself

    Mel Brooks's working title for Spaceballs was Planet Moron, but he wanted the final name to have the word "space" in it somewhere. While brainstorming titles with the movie's writers, Brooks reportedly spilled a beverage on himself and yelled "Balls!" in frustration.

    There's no deeper meaning than that, which is kind of perfect for a movie as nonsensical as Spaceballs.  

    Ludicrous fact?
  • 3

    The ‘Pizza The Hutt' Costume Burned An Actor, Who Then Refused To Get Back In It

    When building the "Pizza the Hutt" costume, the Spaceballs production staff used real pizza toppings, which needed to be kept warm to look convincing. So the staff rigged an electrical heating element into the costume. 

    According to actor Rudy De Luca, who plays Pizza the Hut's sidekick Vinny, after filming a take the wiring overheated and began to smoke. Richard Karron, who played Pizza the Hut, refused to continue. Special effects artist Rick Lazzarini heroically stepped in to don the costume and finish the scene. 

    Ludicrous fact?
  • 4

    John Candy’s Costume Included A 30-Pound Battery Pack And Remote-Controlled Ears

    John Candy's character Barf, the loyal human-dog sidekick to Bill Pullman's Lone Starr, is clearly a parody of Chewbacca. Initial sketches for the Barf costume would have had Candy's face completely covered, but MGM refused to have one of the film's biggest stars conceal his features. In the end, Brooks and Candy decided to use light makeup on Candy's face while putting two large dog ears on top of his head. 

    In order to make Barf's ears move in a realistic way, the team rigged remote-controlled wires into the fake ears. This required Candy to wear a 30-pound battery pack while on set.

    Perfoming with all this paraphernalia was a real test of Candy's patience, and the animatronic elements made it difficult for him to be spontaneously funny. Costar Bill Pullman recalled:

    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.

    Candy, though, was a trooper. "It was a real testimony to his character that he never yelled. He never got angry," Pullman remembered. "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.'"

    Ludicrous fact?