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10 Behind-The-Scenes Stories About 'Spaceballs'

Updated August 18, 2021 2.6k votes 381 voters 27.2k views10 items

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.

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    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.

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  • 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.  

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  • 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. 

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  • 4

    Mel Brooks Got Lucas’s Blessing - As Long As There Was No ‘Spaceballs’ Merch

    Even though Spaceballs has many influences, the most obvious is the Star Wars franchise. Mel Brooks was cautious about not offending Star Wars creator George Lucas. He even sent the director a copy of the script, giving Lucas a chance to object to any of the jokes. Lucas raised no objections, at least as far as the script was concerned. 

    But Lucas's lawyers had one problem with Spaceballs: since many Spaceballs characters resemble Star Wars characters, they argued it was unfair to make Spaceballs merchandise.

    "The Lucas people were just upset about one aspect of Spaceballs," Brooks told Starlog magazine. "They didn't think that it was fair for us to do a take-off and then merchandise the characters, which would kind of resemble them. As far as doing a parody though, of Darth Vader and that sort of thing, it's no problem..."

    Brooks agreed not to merchandise the film - an agreement that also inspired one of the funniest scenes, in which Yogurt pitches every imaginable kind of Spaceballs merch.

    Ludicrous fact?