The Red Alert Line That Made Tim Curry A Meme Was A Moment Of Exhausted Inspiration

One night, at a party, some friends and I were discussing Tim Curry (as all people at parties do, I presume) when we came to realize just how formative he was to all our childhoods. There's no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to his most memorable work, either. Sure, there are his roles in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Clue," and they're spectacular, no doubt about it. But my all-time favorite Curry moments are the ones where he goes ridiculously hard for no real reason other than ... well, because he can.

We're talking Curry's rendition of the song "Anything Can Happen On Halloween" from the 1986 TV movie "The Worst Witch," a performance in which the actor somehow makes the lyric "Has anybody seen my tambourine?" sound deeply sensual. Or the way he commits to his "Romanian" accent as the duplicitous treasure-hunter Herkermer Homolka in "Congo." Although, when it comes to spawning memes, few moments in his career can top Curry's delivery of the line, "I'm escaping to the one place that hasn't been corrupted by capitalism: SPACE!" from the 2008 video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3."

It's not just the sentiment in this "Red Alert 3" cutscene that's relatable (who hasn't yearned to evade the devious grasp of capitalism by fleeing to the stars at some point?). It's the way Curry huffs and puffs and seems precariously close to bursting into laughter before speaking the punchline that makes this the stuff of internet legend. Was he on the verge of breaking character? Or was the line always intended to be delivered with all the camp and gusto the actor could muster?

According to the people behind the game, it all boiled down to a moment of inspiration fueled by exhaustion.

'The first take was that take'

"Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3" is, to put it gently, a very silly video game. Its plot includes an alternate version of WWII, a plan to travel back in time and assassinate Albert Einstein, a version of Mount Rushmore where the faces shoot lasers from their eyes, and bears trained for anti-infantry combat. In other words, Tim Curry's acting as the Russian Soviet Colonel Anatoly Cherdenko was right on the money with the vibe the project was going for.

In Vice's oral history about the making of Curry's meme, his co-star in the game, Ivana Miličević, talked about filming their cutscenes over 10 to 12-hour-long work days:

"To work 10 hours, 11 hours straight is not normally how an actor would work. When you're filming it, you're there by yourself – with a wonderful crew of people, but you're just there for hours, sitting at a desk. You, after a while, are just trying to have fun with it."

"It'd be these long takes of them just sitting there reading a teleprompter as lines came up," explained "Red Alert 3" assistant editor Joshua Basche, adding:

"It was towards the end of the day, and you could kind of tell Curry was tired, he wanted to get out of there. But then that line comes up. And you saw the smile pop onto his face when he read it through first. The first take was that take."

His delivery, as you would expect, left the crew in stitches. "I think he was aware he was about to break but he finished the take because he knew it could be used," noted "Red Alert 3" cinematic editor Stuart Allison. "He knew he was doing it brilliantly."

Truly, we are unworthy of Curry's greatness.