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'Galaxy Quest: The Inside Story' book digs into how they made Sarris a baddie for the ages

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Aug 3, 2021, 11:50 AM EDT

Ask any sci-fi movie fan what film they’d love to see a sequel of, and inevitably Dean Parisot’s once under-the-radar gem, Galaxy Quest (1999), always comes up. 

Crafted as a warm-hearted satire of geek culture, Galaxy Quest stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell playing the core cast of an ‘80s space exploration drama (also called Galaxy Quest) that was canceled too soon. Yet decades later, the series and cast remain deeply in the hearts and minds of its devoted fandom. As such, the jaded actors appear at conventions with more than a little contempt for the fans, but needing the financial benefits the show still affords them. But that all changes when real aliens woo them to space to help them from a terrible conqueror, Roth'h'ar Sarris (Robin Sachs), bent on exterminating them. 

While a sequel may be off the books with the passing of Alan Rickman, there is a new book celebrating every aspect of the film with Hero Collector Book’s, Galaxy Quest: The Inside Story, from author Matt McAllister. Available August 10 from all book retailers and Eaglemoss, the 200 page companion guide dives into the making of the film featuring interviews and behind the scenes photos and materials from all aspects of the production. 

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Hero Collector Books 2021

 

With the impending publication, SYFY WIRE presents the exclusive reveal of the pages for Sarris’ The Falcon starship which features heavily in the second act of the movie. 

 

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Hero Collector Books 2021

 

In an exclusive SYFY WIRE interview with author Matt McAllister, he talks about why the character of Sarris remains such a potent villain all these years later despite his presence in a film that is mostly a comedy.

"The screenwriter, Robert Gordon, made it clear that he wanted Sarris to be played completely straight, rather than for laughs," the author details. "He had to be a character that you believed would inspire terror in the Thermians – or anyone else for that matter. Khan in Star Trek II was a clear influence on the character, but it was interesting that Robert Gordon also cites Al Capone in The Untouchables as being a key reference point – the way that De Niro’s character generated such fear in everyone around him in that movie. The late Robin Sachs gave such a chilling performance, never going over the top, but everyone who knew him pointed out what a funny guy he was in real life. Apparently he even performed a song and dance in character as Sarris on set!"

Something the author learned about Sarris in writing this book was how long it took for them to decide on his finale design. "Dozens of high-profile artists, including Berni Wrightson, Simon Bisley and many others, came up with some very cool concepts. It was fun to see the different directions the character might have gone in."

Even though it took 22 years to get an official companion book for Galaxy Quest made, McAllister says the love from the crew for this film made the search for the materials featured inside the book a joy to collect and compile. 

"Only a limited amount of assets had been stored digitally," he explains. "The rest was in various archive rooms at Paramount, ILM, the Stan Winston School, and smaller effects studios. A vast amount of concept art and storyboards were created for the movie, not all of it easily available. Luckily, everyone at the studios, as well as those involved in the movie, went above and beyond in helping to track down material. Many artists had copies of their artwork in dusty basements or attics, and it was pretty exciting every time they managed to dig out something I hadn’t seen before. The early, very different designs for the monsters and starships are fascinating. Some of the initial designs for the Protector, Sarris’s ship, and creatures like the pig lizard look nothing like the final versions, but they are very cool in their own right."

He adds, "We managed to unearth incredible artwork for all of the characters, ships and sets, and I don’t feel anything had been completely lost. But there is even more Galaxy Quest material in various archives. The book would probably need to be 2,000 pages to squeeze everything in!"