as: Jason Nesmith
Galaxy Quest is a hugely underappreciated film, a pitch perfect parody of the original Star Trek series, its devoted fans, and the show’s stars (or at least the public perception of them). In Galaxy Quest’s show-within-a-movie, also called “Galaxy Quest,” Jason Nesmith was the William Shatner analog—a brash, bold actor of limited range whose ego was stoked by his role as Captain and whose career never escaped the shadow of his signature role.
In Galaxy Quest, Nesmith is portrayed by Tim Allen, who delivered a splendid, and splendidly Shatner-esque performance. However, we feel that a certain other actor, who himself has been pigeonholed by his most famous work, would have done an even better job. We are, of course, referring to Thomas Steven Wopat.
We previously speculated that Wopat would’ve been an ideal choice to play Captain Kirk on Star Trek, so why not cast him in a role that spoofs that character and show?
As mentioned, Tom Wopat will likely never be remembered for anything as much as his role as Luke Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard. This gives him the perfect amount of real-life insight to portray a character like Jason Nesmith, who is in essentially the same situation, career-wise. While Tim Allen is also very well known for one particular role (Tim Taylor on Home Improvement), he has also had a fairly successful movie career, starring in both the Santa Clause and Toy Story series, among other films.
In Galaxy Quest, Nesmith removes his shirt multiple times and with little to no provocation or actual need to do so, mirroring Shatner’s frequent shirtlessness. Though these scenes are played for laughs, it wouldn’t have hurt if the guy removing his shirt was a bit more fit and trim. Though he’s a few years older than Allen, Wopat is still in far better shape. A shirtless Wopat probably have been far better received by the film’s female viewers.
Nesmith is involved in a few fight scenes in the film, the choreography of which is intentionally clumsy and unimpressive, mirroring Kirk’s fight scenes on Star Trek. However, we feel it would’ve been even funnier to have the character be revealed to be an excellent fighter, kicking alien butt much to the surprise of his former co-stars. He would go on to explain that his fight scenes in the “Galaxy Quest” meta-show were crappy and poorly done only because of the limitations of the show’s director and budget. Someone like Wopat, who had a good deal of stage combat experience as a rough and tumble Duke boy, would’ve been perfect in such scenes.
Wopat guest starred in a Season 7 episode of Home Improvement. He played a somewhat shady manufacturer’s rep trying to strike a deal with Binford for sales of a new line of Teflon machining equipment. He also hit on Jill, which—not cool bro. Not cool.