Twenty years ago, Galaxy Quest arrived in theaters to adorably and amusingly skewer the sci-fi movie genre in ways that remain funny and fresh to this day (a recent documentary, Never Surrender, even traced its legacy). To celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary, here are 20 things you might not have known about the movie that proved you don’t have to set out for space on the U.S.S. Enterprise to explore brave new worlds.
1. Galaxy Quest had to cut out some salty language in order to get a PG rating.
But some of the original dialogue is easy enough to spot. For instance, during a memorable scene, Sigourney Weaver yells, “Screw that!” but her lips are quite clearly saying, “F**k that!”
2. Galaxy Quest took aim at film critics—at least one specific film critic—before it even hit the big screen.
You know the movie's big baddie, Sarris? He was reportedly named after film critic Andrew Sarris, who was outspoken about his dislike of producer Mark Johnson’s previous effort, The Natural.
3. Alan Rickman’s Galaxy Quest character was originally a knight.
Well, kind of. His Alexander Dane was supposed to have been the recipient of an honorary knighting by Queen Elizabeth, but Rickman himself thought that such an event didn’t work with his character. Still, Dane is billed as “Sir Alexander Dane” in the film’s credits.
4. A fake documentary about Galaxy Quest aired on E! in 1999.
Galaxy Quest: 20th Anniversary, The Journey Continues was a mockumentary that (quite effectively) tapped into the movie's universe and attempted to chronicle the making of the fake Galaxy Quest television show that inspired the satirical film.
5. There might still be a Galaxy Quest sequel, or TV series.
Fans of the film have been begging for a follow-up for years, and started gaining more serious traction in 2014, when Tim Allen hinted that something might actually be in the works. However, the unexpected death of Alan Rickman in 2016 quieted a lot of those rumors, with Sam Rockwell saying that it could never happen without Rickman. But one year later, it was announced that a series was happening and that actor/comedian Paul Scheer would be writing it.
In 2018, however, the executive who had greenlit the project departed Paramount, putting the project on hold. While its status is unconfirmed at the moment, we do know that there are plenty of ideas for the script and other cast members have expressed interest in revisiting the material.
6. Galaxy Quest is the seventh greatest Star Trek movie ever made.
At least, according to Trekkers who voted on the matter during the Star Trek 2013 convention in Las Vegas.
7. Galaxy Quest's aspect ratio changed in theaters to help hammer home the story.
In theaters, the first 20 minutes of the film were presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, before blowing out into 2.35:1 when the spaceship lands on Thermia. Eye-popping!
8. Galaxy Quest was one of the first movies to have its own website.
Although you can’t see GalaxyQuest.com anymore, the site was once live, and it amusingly took the whole “fake television show” gag to the next level. Instead of being a standard issue movie website, the page kept up the ruse that Galaxy Quest was a real show with real stars. It even included a giant trove of fake episode guides.
9. The Galaxy Quest website even invented a fake, superfan webmaster.
His name was “Travis Latke,” and no one else loved Galaxy Quest quite as much as he did. The site included references and nods to "Travis," who took the time to thank his mom for paying the website’s server bills.
10. Galaxy Quest's spaceship includes a nod to Star Trek.
The NSEA Protector's serial number is listed as NTE 3120. “NTE” is believed to be short for “Not The Enterprise.”
11. Galaxy Quest was Rainn Wilson’s first movie.
The Office star appears as one of the aliens in the film, and though his part is mainly confined to background work, he pops up in a number of deleted scenes. This was Wilson’s first feature film work; he had only been credited for a role on the soap opera One Life to Live before landing the part.
12. Galaxy Quest also marked Justin Long’s feature film debut.
Hard to believe, especially considering the young co-star had a major role in the final product. Long had previously goofed around with a comedy troupe, but Galaxy Quest was his first actual gig. Not a bad start.
13. Justin Long almost lost his role in Galaxy Quest to some other well-known actors.
Given his newbie status in the business, it’s no surprise Long almost didn’t snag the part. Other actors auditioned and came close, including Kieran Culkin, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Tom Everett Scott.
14. Galaxy Quest was originally going to be directed by Harold Ramis.
Originally, Galaxy Quest was known as Captain Starshine and it was set to be directed by Ghostbusters star Harold Ramis. However, Ramis reportedly left the project when they insisted on casting Tim Allen in the lead role.
15. Harold Ramis’s first choice for the lead in Galaxy Quest was Kevin Kline.
Another option the original director wanted to explore was Alec Baldwin. Disney didn’t dig either choice and Ramis left the film, unhappy with his inability to cast it as he saw fit.
16. Galaxy Quest's Thermians might be related to another cinematic alien race.
The Thermians claim to be from the planet Klaatu Nebula. Klaatu is the name of the alien from the 1951 alien invasion thriller The Day The Earth Stood Still.
17. Galaxy Quest promised a return that also echoes Star Trek.
At the end of Galaxy Quest, a trailer touts the return of the fake television series, slated to come back a full 18 years after the show originally aired. Star Trek also saw an 18-year gap between two of its television series (1969 to 1987). Like Galaxy Quest, its film outings were not included in that gap.
18. Tim Allen almost starred in Bicentennial Man instead.
The sci-fi film ended up starring Robin Williams instead—and notoriously bombed at the box office.
19. You can thank Steven Spielberg for Galaxy Quest's romantic subplot.
When the director visited the set, he suggested that Missi Pyle’s alien role be expanded, which is why a subplot involving a romance between her and Tony Shalhoub was added in.
20. Sigourney Weaver kept her wig when shooting was over.
And who can blame her? That thing looked amazing on her.