Star Trek Guide

Rainn Wilson Interview: Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary

Twenty years after its initial release in 1999, Galaxy Quest remains as endearingly beloved as ever. The high-concept science fiction comedy followed a group of actors from a cult sci-fi show who are recruited by an oppressed alien race to defend them from a a malevolent galactic warlord. Upon release, Galaxy Quest proved an affectionate love letter to Star Trek, the original "wagon train to the stars," and a far cry from the mean-spirited parody some may have been expecting. In addition to universal critical acclaim, the film was successful at the box office, grossing over $90 million on a budget of $45 million. In the decades since its release, Galaxy Quest has been adopted by the Star Trek fan community as an unofficial entry in the franchise's widespread canon.

Back in 1999, Rainn Wilson was almost completely unknown to the world. The Office was still six years away, and the actor, who had been struggling to make a name for himself in New York, moved to Los Angeles to make a go of it on the West Coast. Galaxy Quest marked Wilson's feature film debut, in the role of one of the Thermians who initially enlist the aid Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) to protect them from the villainous reptilian, Sarris. Ironically, he would later be cast in Star Trek: Discovery, as Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd.

For the 20th anniversary of Galaxy Quest, Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing an exclusive Blu ray steelbook edition of the film, as well as a new project from Screen Junkies, Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which features interviews with the cast and crew of the movie. Time will tell if the long-awaited Galaxy Quest TV revival ever comes to fruition. Screen Rant got to speak with Wilson about his role in Galaxy Quest, from his initial audition to getting to participate in the film's first table read, at which point he knew he was involved with something truly special.

Twenty years!

Galaxy Quest was your feature film debut. Did you get to read the script beforehand? What was your introduction to this role?

One thing that's become legend about this movie, now that you mention the table read, is that it was originally supposed to be rated R, with a lot more cursing. There's a great little moment where you can clearly see Sigourney Weaver say the F-word, even though it's dubbed over with the word "screw." Was the table read rated R?

In contrast to Sam Rockwell, who seems to be playing a very coked-out character.

Looking at your career, do you trace your trajectory back to Galaxy Quest? Do you believe this is the movie that opened doors for you to become the star that you are?

It's so interesting. I think many people don't have the mettle to be a working actor, to take the risk of not having work in between jobs. Back then, or even know, can you be choosy with roles? Does it take nerves of steel to turn down a part?

Going back to the movie, since it was your feature film debut, what was your experience like on set? Did you have any kind of knee-jerk reaction when you first saw the costume and make-up and hair you had to put on?

So there was no frame of reference for you, like, "This is weird, but compared to what?"

Kinda building off that, I spent a month on the set of a movie last year and I learned so much about what happens on a film set, and it was amazing to watch so many artists do individual work that added up to a larger whole. For Galaxy Quest, was there anything you learned on that set that you've carried with you to today?

The Galaxy Quest Steelbook Blu ray is out now at Best Buy. Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary debuts via a one-night-only Fathom Events presentation on November 26.