“Mum’s the word.”
Screenshot: YouTube (Fair Use)

It only took a couple decades, but it feels like Galaxy Quest finally gets the proper respect and love it’s deserved ever since we *ahem* described it as “an inspired spoof of and tribute to Star Trek” back in 1999. The ensemble cast, the loving ode to sci-fi serials, the Grabthar’s Hammer—it’s all just so much fun and joyous and if you squint just right you can see a very young Rainn Wilson as one of the Thermian aliens.

Speaking of which! This recently rediscovered behind-the-scenes featurette highlighted at Digg delves into just what made the wide-eyed, screech-voiced ETs so great in the first place: Namely, their performances are a masterclass in physical comedy and timing overseen by Enrico Colantoni, the veteran character actor who portrayed Thermian leader, Mathesar.

Everyone from Missi Pyle to Tim Allen to the late, great Alan Rickman seem to have nothing but praise for the actor, whose balance of improv and intense attention to physicality provided the template for the awkward aliens in desperate need of assistance.

“The voice came from a vocal exercise I learned at Yale. It’s just a touching of all the seven resonators,” Colantoni recounts. Director Dean Parisot confirms “that was it” for him, who quickly cast him as Mathesar only to later, repeatedly point to Colantoni on set and inform the rest of the Thermian actors to “do what he’s doing.”

“To tell you the truth, when I’m given the opportunity to audition for serial killers or aliens, I figure I’ve got carte blanche to make shit up,” Colantoni told us back in 2016. “Because nobody can say, ‘Oh, an alien would never behave that way.’ So fuck it: I’m gonna play around with it. So I said, ‘I’m gonna make [Mathesar] more like a Jehovah’s Witness coming to your door on a Sunday afternoon, just like a perpetual youth.’ Because what I read, he was such an innocent guy.”

There’s also a bit about how the attention to detail even affected the alien race’s gait, who walked with their arms swinging the opposite of normal human movement. It’s as difficult to maintain as it is funny to watch, and Grabthar bless ‘em for it.

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This content was originally published here.