Alan Rickman portrays Alexander Dane a former Shakespearean actor best known by his role of Dr. Lazarus on the Star Trek like show Galaxy Quest. Long after the end of the show he only finds work doing appearances as the character with the rest of the cast. Although none of them are especially happy, Rickman portrays Alexander Dane as particularly frustrated by his lot. Rickman's performance emphasizes just how much Alexander hates having to best known for his role that he hates, despite what he believes he was capable of. Rickman is deliciously dead pan with his role as the actor who can barely hold back his disdain for his job of repeating his character's famous lines he despises, and as well for Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) the actor whom he has no respect due to Nesmith's pompous self absorbed attitude. Rickman performance for quite awhile is filled with exasperated angry remarks, or reactions of the very same. Rickman technically speaking does not go for laughs with his part obviously, yet Rickman is hilarious with his performance utilizing excellent timing throughout the film.
As the situation becomes far worse for the actors Rickman actually stays firm in his portrayal for quite, awhile. Although he keeps up fairly the same manner, except with some moments where he must in genuine horror or concern for his own being, he still stays pretty dead pan. Rickman's act is so enjoyable though it never does get old. His performance manages to stay consistently funny through every situation, and he shows how a performance like this is done. Fairly late in the film as the situation becomes very dire though, and for a key moment Rickman brilliantly breaks the dead pan completely to deliver the line Dane hates, but due to the extreme circumstance delivers it with all his heart. It is a masterful moment for Rickman because he manages to make the moment both still very funny, but oddly poignant as Dane becomes his role in that moment. This is a very enjoyable performance by Alan Rickman, who takes his approach and goes with it marvelously. I can't say after watching it again that this is the best performance in the film.
Sam Rockwell actually does not play one of the has been actors, although Guy was on the show but only as crewman number 6 killed in the first act of episode 81. He actually seems to be a wannabe has been star himself when he first approaches the crew. Rockwell is very enjoyable as he tries his best to attempt to act cool, and be part of the crew even though being part of the crew really is not something particularly to be part of. Rockwell combines an honest enthusiasm with just the right amount of a pathetic quality. Rockwell really starts to shine though when his character gets far more focus when the crew, who he decides to join, go on the alien craft designed based on the old show. Rockwell proves from the first instant on the craft as four of the crew react in horror to meeting the aliens in their true form, how he will be the best part of the film. As his reaction is an intense but hilarious scream of horror that absolutely steals the scene, which certainly will not be the only scene that he steals.
In every scene that he is Rockwell is extremely enjoyable in each and every moment that he comes in. Just one great example of this is when they first take the ship off from a star base, and pilot is less than successful. Rockwell though to me acts as the funniest part of the entire scene in just his reaction of telling the pilot to move right. His little gesture is just perfect, and Rockwell consistently has great moments like that all through the entire film. The basis of Rockwell's story in the film is that the aptly named Guy believes that since he was just a nameless crew member on the show who was quickly killed off that he will likely be killed as well. Rockwell is just fantastic in his portrayal of Guy's fears, that keep him on a manic edge through a great deal of the film. Although the fear is a prevailing factor Rockwell's performance never becomes repetitive or one dimensional but instead is always entertaining.
One reasons this is that Rockwell plays with all the facets of this fear so well. Whether it is his more depressed, and hopeless screaming scene asking the rest of the crew if they even know his last name, which could come across as annoying but Rockwell method is only ever comedic gold. His screams of pains although are entirely convincing as screams of pains also are done in just the right way by Rockwell to make me laugh every single time. He just as efficiently more subtly portrays the fear as a internal dread within Guy as he goes on a ground mission with the crew. I particularly love the moment in which he looks at another alien species instantly recognizes what will eventually happen, with his great delivery of "Did you guys ever watch the show?" to the rest of the crew due to his this time in a quietly intense and frightened manner that again still manages to be very funny.
Rockwell even manages to bring this fear into a rather strange heroism when the situation becomes quite dire. His speech about might as well go out a hero rather than a cowardly red shirt is superbly handled with strange by effectively degree of passion and fatalism. This is just a wonderful performance by Rockwell in every way though because he is able to be an entirely comedic performance while still managing to be entirely believable considering Guy's situation. I absolutely love this performance that is incredible in the scenes that focus on him, but as well by the way he seems to steal almost every other scene he is in through just the slightest reaction. He is the best part of the film, and I just had to review him.