Morning, everyone. So, by this time, I’m sure we’re all aware of yet another devastating loss in the showbiz world in the form of the great Alan Rickman. Rickman was always one of my favorite actors. Not just for his unwaveringly perfect performance as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, for which he’s most widely known, but in many other films, least of which was his break-out film role as the wonderfully slimy businessman/terrorist in Hans Gruber of Die Hard fame. His other roles like Dr. Alfred Blalock in the wonderfully touching HBO film Something the Lord Made, or the always very fitting role of Metatron (the voice of God) in one of my favorite Kevin Smith movies, Dogma were every bit as potent and compelling as the one that came before it. He’ll be sorely missed, not just by me but in the film industry as a whole. It’s not unique for Alan Rickman to be one of your favorite actors but his extremely singular approach to any role he’s played both on screen or on stage made him stand out amidst a sea of disappearing gems. For these reasons, I chose to switch up my intended movie today and watch another great entry in Rickman’s filmography, Galaxy Quest.
I’ve seen Galaxy Quest once prior to today, years ago, so it was an extremely refreshing reminder of just how awesome this movie is. It’s fantastically meta-weird comedy reached all corners of the film. Not just the movie itself but down to the actors as well. You have Alan Rickman as Sir Alexander Dane as Dr. Lazarus. Rickman’s character, Dane, was a Shakespearian-trained stage actor who took a shot on the show Galaxy Quest but grew to hate the role because he was constantly overlooked by the star, Jason Nesmith as Commander Peter Quincy Taggert (Tim Allen). Rickman was also a Shakespearian-trained stage actor and undoubtedly had to have considered doing roles like the one his character played, although he wisely side-stepped such things in his real life career. Then you have Sigourney Weaver as Gwen Demarco as Lt. Tawny Madison who’s purely reduced to cleavage and redundant one-liners on the show. We all know Weaver was so much more than that in her most well known role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. There’s also characters like Sam Rockwell’s Guy Fleegman as “Crew Member #6” (and later “Roc” Ingersol) who doesn’t even seem to know who he is as a real person anymore because of his brief run on the show.
The story itself is about a tv show, Galaxy Quest, that was Star Trek-level huge in the 80s but fizzled out after a long career. The stars of the show have all gone in different directions but have largely remained in contact with one another to some degree, all except the “star”, Jason Nesmith. Nesmith’s ego swelled to gargantuan proportions both on and off the show, much to his co-stars’ dismay. Now the whole crew is reduced to Comic Con-style meet and greets but can’t even sit next to each other for a few hours without some sort of past argument and unsettled beefs swimming to the surface. At one of these conventions, Nesmith is cornered by some “fans” who tell him their world is in trouble and they need his help to save their species. Nesmith, a chronic burnout despite loving the fame his role has brought him, side-steps the fans as a weird job opportunity and proceeds to drink himself to sleep that night. The next morning, the fans show up at his house and he agrees to go with them to their planet, which he thinks is just actually a job he forgot he signed on to doing. Much to his surprise, he shows up on a space ship, in space, surrounded by aliens, and now has to negotiate with a maniacal killer named Sarris (Robin Sachs) who’s threatening to destroy the Thermian race. After playing along and firing torpedoes at Sarris’ ship, Nesmith is transported back to Earth where he immediately gathers the rest of his crew, amidst heavy reluctance, and brings them back with him to the Thermian ship to destroy Sarris once and for all. As the real galaxy quest heats up for the actors, they learn to not discard their burdensome characters but learn to find their true strengths within their characters and, more importantly, learn to work together in real life, just like their characters would have.
Damn, I didn’t realize writing about that would be so difficult. It’s really trippy when you put it into words. I love a good showbiz movie but I love them so much more when they’re like this. When the character of the actor learns something from the character they’re playing, whether good or bad, always serves as a really cool eye-opener for me in the context of writing and character development. It’s just always been one of my favorite ways to show the idea of personal growth and change that, by embracing something that you hate in yourself from a new light, you could potentially learn so much more than from just shutting it off completely.
So, R.I.P. Alan Rickman. I’m definitely gonna watch Die Hard tonight and for those of you that need to relive some great Rickman, there are like five of his movies on Netflix and Galaxy Quest is one of them. Come back tomorrow for my intended post today, Leon: The Professional. Thanks!