Moderator Kevin Smith
Director Dean Parisot
Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson
The boys are back, Bill and Ted!
Kevin: This movie is adorable, it makes people feel adored, hopeful and a time machine journey, references to old friends, it was a perfect movie experience. Stay through the credits. How did this begin?
Chris: It stated in 1983 and an improve group with some friends to play with the characters. The suggestion was two teenage boys studying history that don’t know anything about history. They struck us as funny instantly and we started playing with them.
Kevin: Before Keanu and Alex played Bill and Ted, you played Bill and Ted?
Ed: We took questions as Bill and Ted and everything was either ‘excellent’ or ‘bogus’.
Chris: We wrote letters and Bill and Ted and spoke like Bill and Ted. Long before we started to put them into a movie or anything like that, we just enjoyed them.
Ed: There is a story we told before which is that it was hard for us to imagine who would take the characters over and we were not involved in the casting project or anything. We were in Arizona where the movie was about ready to shoot and we were in a line at a McDonalds and we were complaining to each other like ‘gawd, I bet who ever they cast won’t be able to do it the way we hoped’ and all that. There were two guys in line in front of us at McDonalds goofing off and talking to each other and Chris and I were like ‘now THOSE should be the people that play Bill and Ted’ and we were on the set of the first rehearsal and it was Bill and Keanu. Unbelievable (to which Keanu gives the thumbs up!)
Kevin: It is a small world. Who’s idea was it to turn the characters into a screenplay?
Chris: We were going to write a skit movie with a bunch of different skits because we just had a bunch of silly ideas and Bill & Ted were going to be one of the pieces in a 10 minute piece. It was my Dad, Richard Matheson who wrote I AM LEGEND, and I ran it by him and he ‘you could make a whole movie about that’. We started looking at it that way.
Kevin: Richard Matheson is in the DNA of Bill & Ted.
Chris: In that respect yes.
Kevin: Bill & Ted became part of the pop culture and how quickly was a sequel which was called Bill & Ted Go to Hell but you had to change that right?
Ed: Yea, the script was that they go back and have to take another test, an English test and Chris and I didn’t want to rehash that but we had this other idea, which was what if we kill them and just send them to hell and call it Bill & Ted Go to Hell and they were just not into it surprisingly. Until we flew to Massachusetts I think and Keanu was doing a play there, Shakespeare right?
Ed: We flew there and told them we have two ideas, the one they want us to do and this other one and if we didn’t have the backing of Alex and Keanu there was basically no way we were going to do the second one. We got to do the weirder version which I’m so grateful for.
Kevin: When did they say it had to be Bogus Journey and not Go to Hell?
Chris: I think that was the shooting title when we were in production I think that’s what it was called. When it came time to release it they were not going to release it.
Kevin: When does FACE THE MUSIC come into your lives?
Alex: There wasn’t really a version years ago. We all went on our merry way and stayed good friends. It was some years ago now, some ten years ago that Chris, Ed, myself and Keanu were having dinner and they said they had another idea for a Bill & Ted and laid out this very summary version of a piss take of Dickens going back into your life finding out each reiteration of your life was worse than the previous. Pretty damn funny. None of us had thought of embarking on a third. Even that night I think we all kind of looked at dinner as ‘this isn’t really worth doing and no one really needs this unless its really great’ and we can magically hold on to the creative well enough that it maintained its integrity of that initial idea. Thus began a very long road to get us to sitting in front of you on our laptops.
Kevin: Let me take it to the boys. Did you have to audition for Bill & Ted?
Keanu: We went through a very vigorous audition process. The first audition I recall in the end there were ten artists and we would revolve doors playing either Bill or Ted and interacting with each other. There was a lunch and went to the end of the day.
Alex: It was a triathlon more than an acting audition. It was a grueling and somewhat unnecessarily prolonged experience. In retrospect, everyone who made the movie was super young. It was a nice way to say no one knew what they were doing. Keanu and I became friends through that process. Eventually we got to know each other a bit and very relived when we finally got it.
Kevin: When did you know that Bill & Ted were a pop culture phenomenon?
Keanu: I think as soon as people started yelling in the streets. I know when I was on the street people would yell, “be excellent!” and “party on!” so I was like, alright, cool.
Alex: I remember going to Paris on vacation right after the first one came out and being seeing a couple of skate-punk kids that were like 10, 11, 12 years old and they were talking like Bill & Ted and it hit me at that point that it had sort of seeped into the culture on some level.
Kevin: The extension of that story line, of course, into BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC include a new generation. Sam and Brigette, what is the process by which someone ascends to the position of B&T in the movie?
Brigette: We had to audition, it wasn’t as rigorous by any means that, we didn’t have a lunch. It was like a fifteen minute in and out. It was good, for myself personally I had never seen the film so and I didn’t want to see it before I went in because I wanted to go in blind. I watched it a two second clip of what their voices sounded like and I went in and was just as goofy as possible and the second time I got to read with Sam.
Ed: Wait, you did a whole two seconds of prep?
Sam: Yep, that’s how I got to where I am. I did my two second research.
Kevin: Everyone in the audience listening, that should be an inspiring story because everything your teachers told you about being prepared doesn’t matter.
Brigette: Trust me, that’s what I learned in high school, cram in the bathroom before and you’re good.
Sam: Just cram! I hadn’t seen the films either.
Kevin: Seriously? Neither one of you saw the movie.
Sam: No, I was born in ’92. I think it was quite, I could be wrong, I mean I know a few Ozzie’s that have seen it but I think its an American cultural phenomenon. I could be ignorant about that. I remember getting an email with the audition and what is Bill & Ted and my partner leapt off the couch and started doing this surfer voice I’d never heard before and started talking in a voice and that’s when I realized that this film had an impact on the culture of America. Jimmy was like ‘dude, you know, you have to do the audition bro!’ and I was like who are you and who did you just become. (Keanu is laughing) He immediately said ‘you have to get this job and watch both movies back to back right now’. We had so much fun and I hadn’t seen films like that before, it was so innocent and so naïve and delightfully funny. Next I’m in Santa Monica reading opposite Brigette and gave it my best shot. It was really daunting trying to fill Bill & Ted’s shoes but still trying to make the character different from doing an impression of them. That was the tricky part.
Kevin: In that respect did you study Alex and Brigette did you study Keanu?
Sam: I won’t speak for Brigette but for me I watched Alex’s performance and tried to study his physical way that held himself as Bill and try to bring that more into a feminine but different from Bill. To make it different but the apple not falling far from the tree.
Brigette: Totally like watching the movie but also like the experience of meeting you guys and becoming friends with you guys but secretly watching you all the time to see how you move your arms. The crazy part of being an actor. Billie and Thea are geniuses in the way that Bill & Ted and goofy and naïve looking for the answer so I feel that’s where we found a way into those differences.
Alex: The first time we performed with you guys, I remember one scene where I was facing off with you guys, it was a really wonderful moment. Its not saying we were worried about who was going to play these characters but it was really important that they didn’t feel like knock-off’s of Bill & Ted and that they were their own people. We both sort of sighed at the same time at the performance because it smacked of family really more than imitating us. They are completely their own characters.
Kevin: The first thing that I was struck by was Bill & Ted was a PG venture. As I’m watching, they chose a PG 13 hand. When you get the script was there any trepidation Dean?
Dean: Yes, its daunting because they are iconic and its hard to come back after 30 years. All of that was part of the puzzle to put it together. To contemporize it and bring the characters back at middle age and with their daughters. At the casting there was no question. The weird thing was that it was obviously them and then we put up photographs of Bill & Ted against Sam & Brigette it looked like their daughters. Its to their credit because they became their daughters and nothing else mattered.
Sam: I will say as young women with makeup it is easy to be too glam so they did a perfect job of making us still different but making us their daughters.
Dean: We looked at them as young musical savants. Everyone you just talked about got together to create those characters that weren’t glam at all but artistic.
Kevin: Movies are made up of moments, give me your favorite moment?
William: The very first shot of the take of the very first scene that I did I was suppose to be hopscotch and cheating at it and I tripped. I caught myself and sprained my wrist and I thought ‘this is a disaster, I’m off to such a great start’.
Dean: He did the rest of those scenes with a swollen wrist.
William: The really fun moment was when Alex and Keanu, we finally are reunited on screen. It was just gang busters from there. It was like we never left off.
Kevin: That will bring inflammation down.
Sam: I think watching those three have that very special moment, that was really touching and incredible and I felt incredibly lucky to be there to watch that. A close second was the first scene of the film where Brigette and I are watching our fathers perform. I never laughed so hard seeing Keanu Reeves go from John Wick to Ted dancing around and I was crying with laughter.
Brigette: Everyone who we find throughout history who is a musician is a brilliant musician. Watching them play, Patty Ann Miller is the most phenomenal drummer watching her use bones on a turtle shell.
Ed: The reason I was hesitant at first is that my two moments weren’t on set. One was a night where some of the actors who played some of the musicians played with us one night. It was a community. I think my favorite moment was on a day when we were shut down because of weather we were stuck in a town called Covington, Keanu hosted the cast and crew and it was a 1:00 performance of John Wick. Alex hosted a lunch after and we just hung out and none of us could work and I thought, this is amazing.
Alex: There are a couple but the first week, the movie was hard physically but we are older and the script was more physical. It was super physical and I remember half way through week on and we were shooting a scene and the whole family is there and people I’ve known most of my life. Keanu and I got into character and we just went off and I remember coming off set and thinking “Bill and Ted are back!”. It’s like you don’t know, not that we did a great job but internally they are really fun to play and you sort of have to let them go and do their own thing. There is a real ensemble thing, when that groove is happening and working, especially because the tone is so specific, that was it for me, the moment I felt that emotionally. Meeting with Billie and the girls at Death’s house, riffing with Sadler again, having him in my face and the baggage from our past and the kids there.
William: My favorite moment too!
Keanu: Sorry not sorry. There is nothing like, I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way working on this film does and working with Alex. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me. To partner up and work on the craft side of it and get to play these characters Chris and Ed have created and be their children. There is no other place where I can laugh like this. To the craft and play these characters, there are a few scenes stand out but everyday as Al gives a wonderful performance. Playing older versions of Bill and Ted, and getting to play off Alex and the situation and the words doesn’t exist anywhere else with the laughter and connection.
Kevin: How nice you don’t get to shoot people in a movie.
Keanu: What are you talking about, that’s fun to do that, what do you mean.
Kevin: You let Bill & Ted grow up in the movie.