Why John Candy’s Spaceballs Costume Was Problematic, According To Bill Pullman

Bill Pullman and John Candy laughing in Spaceballs

Just one quick glimpse at John Candy as Barf in Spaceballs is enough to immediately induce laughter. I mean, just look at the above. Literally every little thing about it is hilarious. It turns out that a lot of thought and effort went into making John Candy's Barf costume as hilarious as possible, too. So much so that he actually went through various discussions with Spaceballs' writer, producer, and director Mel Brooks to get it just right. Spaceballs lead Bill Pullman recently recalled that John Candy had an issue portraying Barf in the first few days of production, especially because of the ears and tail on his costume. Bill Pullman revealed,

That was a trying day for John. 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.

Bill Pullman has recently been discussing Spaceballs to mark the 20th anniversary of the beloved comedy, which originally hit screens in June, 1987. As you'd expect, he had nothing but kind of words to say about John Candy, who he revealed was a consummate professional throughout the production even though he was obviously frustrated at not being in control of his ears and the tails. Bill Pullman told The Hollywood Reporter that John Candy still remained calm and collected throughout filming, and when he did become a little frustrated he'd just take a break to regain his focus. Bill Pullman remarked,

It was a real testimony to his character that he never yelled. 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.'

The relationship between Barf and Bill Pullman's Captain Lone Starr is obviously a riff on that of Chewbacca and Harrison Ford's Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise. Spaceballs didn't stop there, though, because it continued its hilarious assault on George Lucas' beloved sci-fi series by lampooning a hoard of its characters. My personal favorite is when it turned Jabba The Hutt into Pizza The Hut. Mostly because it is so hilariously stupid. You can check out a clip of this below.

Those of you that haven't seen Spaceballs should really mark its 20th anniversary by sitting down to do just that. There's actually increasing rumors that, in the wake of the recent rejuvenation of the Star Wars franchise, Mel Brooks will make a sequel. The fact that John Candy, Joan Rivers, Dick Van Patten, and Dom DeLuise are all dead would obviously be a hurdle for its production, but that hasn't stopped Mel Brooks from coming up with the perfect title for the possible follow-up, in the shape of Spaceballs 2: The Search For More Money.

Gregory Wakeman