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Not Heinous At All: Bill And Ted Are Back To 'Face The Music'

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are back as everyone's favorite dim-witted would-be rock stars, Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan.
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are back as everyone's favorite dim-witted would-be rock stars, Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan.

Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan have been to heaven and hell, the past and the future. They've befriended Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc. They've bested the Grim Reaper in a game of Battleship.

Now, nearly 30 years after we last saw them, the duo reunite in the new movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music.

"We were excited by the idea that we first heard from the writers," says Alex Winter, who plays Bill, "and then we had to set about actually finding these guys again." How did they do that? "Magic," Winter jokes.

Keanu Reeves, who plays Ted, chimes in: "Working on the script, and working with the director Dean Parisot, the writers, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon were really collaborative with is. And Alex and I just internally kind of rehearsing with each other, and just got to that first day — and the first shot we had to get in the phone booth, and there we were. And here we go."


Interview Highlights

On getting into character as Bill and Ted, 30 years on

Winter: There was kind of a two pronged approach to the preparation. There was figuring out who these guys were at this point in their live in a very kind of story-driven way. And as Keanu said, that was about he and I working together and looking at just the actual circumstances of these guys in their lives. And that was fun. But then there was a whole kind of physical preparation because there was this crazy narrative of us acting opposite all these different versions of ourselves. And so finding the physicality of present day Bill and Ted, and then finding the physicality of all these different versions of us, took a little bit of time too, but it was fun.

Reeves: We really were reacting to the writers and their idea that our characters 30 years ago had this destiny and they didn't fulfill it. So this idea of where are they now? It was like, who are these guys now? They're offered another kind of chance, but that's even more, in a Bill and Ted way, ridiculous, you know, and I thought that model felt like a worthwhile and funny idea.

Reeves on what playing Bill taught him about comedy, and whether people confused him with the character

I was from the critics and journalists, but not by the industry. But in terms of, I guess, comedy — you just can't play funny. You know, you have to play the real of it. And then hopefully the funny will come after that. But that's not to say that there are techniques and skills and ... timing. I think you just have to do it, you have to practice, and you have to consider it.

On the fact that Face the Music will be one of the first pandemic-era films shown in theaters.

I think an hour and a half of genuine, open-hearted, innocent whimsy may not be the worst thing for people.

Winter: I think that the industry is rightly very concerned about the cinema experience, but also they're very concerned about the the economics for exhibitors who, you know — keep the movie business alive and we want the exhibitors to stay afloat at the same time. We want people to be safe in a pandemic. And people need to be to be given an option to watch this movie safely at home. So we feel really good about the fact that the studio is willing to throw in behind that rollout plan. But we are also looking forward to a world in which the movie experience is back.

Reeves: I mean, I think everyone's going to put all the protocols in place to make it as safe as possible for people who do feel comfortable. That opportunity presents itself if they want to go to the cinema. And it's also on pay per view or streaming. So there's that option as well.

On what they want audiences to get out of the return of Bill and Ted

Reeves: Wow, just to laugh, to enjoy the ride, to, you know, feel good, feel positive and to share that, spread that around.

Winter: People have a an inclination to be weighed down by the gravitas of what's going on in the world at the moment. But I do think that cinema gives you an outlet for certain emotions in a collective way. And the film doesn't take itself seriously. It's not trying to present a message, but it has themes, and the themes are quite sweet and lovely. And the theme of this movie is very much about the whole world coming together and helping one another. But it's also, there's a lot of whimsy, and I think an hour and a half of genuine, open-hearted, innocent whimsy may not be the worst thing for people.

This story was edited for radio by Danny Hensel and Ed McNulty, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.