Then and Now

Bill Pullman reveals 'Spaceballs' cast feared blue screen would make them go blind

The science fiction comedy “Spaceballs” first premiered in 1987 and now 30 years later, star Bill Pullman revealed some surprising facts about the beloved film.

The 63-year-old actor told The Hollywood Reporter the cast were worried the film’s blue screen would make them go blind. According to Pullman, they were warned the screen could damage the optic nerve or make them pass out.

“They had a belief back in those days that the blue screen was bad for your eyes,” he explained. “I can’t remember if it was Mel [Brooks] or the assistant directors who heard this, but they would call cut and everyone would put their sunglasses. It was so hard to work the comedy in between takes when everyone was wearing sunglasses.”

John Candy, who played the Chewbacca-inspired character Barf, also had difficulties of his own. Pullman said the actor’s mechanical ears and tails caused him serious frustration.

“That was a trying day for John,” said Pullman. “He wanted to play it a certain way, Mel wanted it a different way, and then he had to deal with the mechanical issues of the ears and tail. 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.”

Still, Pullman insisted Candy always remained a professional on set.

“It was a real testimony to his character that he never yelled,” he added. “He never got angry. 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.'”

Candy died from a heart attack at age 43 in 1994.

One of Pullman’s favorite memories from his time filming? Causing makeup artist Bob Mills to get angry. Pullman said Mills didn’t feel his beloved 1972 Plymouth Valiant was fit for a Hollywood star.

“He said, ‘Don’t you know you need to behave like a star?! You come in here with that car like you’re a farmer!’ He was schooling me,” Pullman recalled.

However, the actor did get some advice from costume designer Donfeld.

“He told me, ‘Don’t worry kid, I am going to make you into a star,’” said Pullman. “He would grab the back of my pants and crunch them up and go, ‘See, this is going to be the secret that you carry through your whole career. You gotta get that part tight around your butt,’” he said.