“Be excellent to each other.”
Few mantras from ‘80s movies have resonated as long or as deeply as the slacker-rocker-meet-Gandhi words of Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) and his partner-in-time travel Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves), who of course follow up that sentiment with “And party on, dudes!” in the 1989 favorite Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Winter and Reeves weren’t teenagers at the time like their characters — both actors were in their mid-20s for Excellent Adventure and its 1991 sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey — but they admit there was some Bill and Ted that rubbed off on their own worldviews.
“For me it was just a concretization of an impulse that I have, and this one just made it bloom more,” Reeves (Speed, The Matrix, John Wick) tells us in a new video chat interview (watch above). “Their worldview, as beacons of light, certainly formalized the lighthouse.”
“There’s an experience aspect of it, too,” says Winter, who in more recent years has become a prolific documentary filmmaker who’s tackled subjects like the digital revolution (Downloaded, Deep Web), global corruption (The Panama Papers) and child stardom (Showbiz Kids). “Both the films were made at pretty formative periods of our lives. We were of a certain age, we were coming into adulthood. We became close friends.
“The experiences of making the films were very joyful. They were hard films to make but they were a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of physicality, a lot of interplay with me and Keanu. So I think that informed my life in a certain way. The experiences themselves of being these guys and making the films.”
It’s no wonder Reeves and Winter have long plotted to return to their iconic characters, with Reeves first indicating a script was in the works for a threequel in 2010.
This weekend they return to screens both big (where open) and small in Bill & Ted Face the Music, which finds the now-middle-aged Bill and Ted struggling with their marriages (yes, to those medieval princesses) as well as their floundering music careers — not to mention that they still haven’t written that song that will unite the entire world. Another excellent adventure, this time with the help of their wives (Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes) and daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Payne), is in order.
“I love playing Ted, I love working with Alex, I love Bill & Ted films,” says Reeves. “We had a wonderful director in Dean Parisot, the writers had a really good time and wrote a wonderful script. So it was nice to kind of get the band back together.”
“It took a little while for the film to get made, and that gave us time to wrap our heads around who these guys were gonna be at this age, and how to approach them,” adds Winter. “So we were pretty ready by the time we were going.”
Bill & Ted Face the Music opens Friday, Aug. 28 in theaters and on VOD services; check Fandango for ticket and showtime information.
Watch the trailer:
— Video produced by Jon San
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