The Guest of Honor at This Spaceballs 30th Anniversary Party Is Princess Vespa

The Schwartz will be in St. Petersburg this weekend

One of the fun things about an event like Friday’s tribute to Mel Brooks’ 1987 Star Wars spoof Spaceballs at the 12th Annual Sunscreen Film Festival in the Tampa Bay area is that it gives reporters the perfect excuse to revisit such an artifact. Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall hopped on the phone with actress Daphne Zuniga, who played Princess Vespa in the send-up. Zuniga will introduce the free outdoor screening at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and also take part in a post-screening, indoor Q&A, open to festival pass-holders only.

By coincidence, when Persall talked to Zuniga, it was the day after the late Carrie Fisher was remembered at Orlando’s Star Wars Celebration. That prompted this additional memory from the 54-year-old Zuniga:

Fisher was performing her Wishful Drinking one-woman show. Despite having friends in common, she and Zuniga had never hung out. Zuniga was taken backstage, then taken aback by Fisher’s greeting.

“She just said: ‘Hey. You’re me,’ ” Zuniga said. “That was the first thing she said to me. I said, ‘I am.’ I don’t remember if we hugged or something. I just felt like finally we got that taken care of.”

Zuniga is at the Sunscreen Film Festival mainly to present her new indie drama Those Left Behind, which screens Saturday afternoon. She is also taking part beforehand in a 2:30 p.m. panel discussion titled “Discovering the Female Voice.”

Spaceballs was originally released June 24, 1987. Was Zuniga nervous about meeting Fisher, finally? For the answer to that, read the rest of Persall’s piece.

Previously on Fishbowl:
Mel Brooks Is Blazing Mad About Newspaper’s Retreat From Horse Racing Coverage