Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter Excellently Detail Bill & Ted’s Latest Adventure | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter Excellently Detail Bill & Ted’s Latest Adventure

55-Year-Old Stars Look Back on their Not Bro-ey But Sweetly Earnest Gen X Characters

Aug 26, 2020 Alex Winter
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Thirty years after their breakthrough roles as time travelling teenage slackers, renowned action star Keanu Reeves and acclaimed documentarian Alex Winter hopped on Zoom with a handful of reporters to chat about returning to the excellent, bogus, hard rocking roles that started it all.

During an online press conference to promote Bill & Ted Face the Music, the long delayed third installment of their seminal Gen X comedy franchise, Reeves and Winter warmly and enthusiastically answered questions about reprising their silly yet sweet characters for a new adventure. But how did Reeves (now 55 and famed for deadly serious turns like John Wick and Neo from The Matrix) and Winter (also 55 and long since shaken off Bill & Ted goofiness with weighty docs like The Panama Papers and Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain) get back into the groove of their flannel wearing, head banging prior incarnations after all this time?

Why, by stepping into a magical phone booth, naturally.

“Our first day of shooting was in the phone booth, which was a great touchstone that made me think ‘Ok, here we go’” an ever chill Reeves (sporting a midnight dark suit jacket and V neck, along with the same beard and flowing locks that made so many hearts race in the recent rom-com Always Be My Maybe) said during the press conference of stepping back in the supernatural telecom relic that jettisoned he and Winter’s characters into the unknown in 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Winter (also looking trim and youthful, his hair still golden and puffy with curls, yet also wearing a crisp purple button-up that the Bill wouldn’t have been caught dead in in ‘89) agreed that returning to the phone booth emblazed on the first film’s poster “was a smart move. I’m not sure if it was intentional on the director’s part, and Keanu and I had no say in that, or anything else, which was probably a good thing. But it was helpful.”

That said, the experience of being back on the other side of the camera as Bill was surreal for a documentarian like Winter in 2020. Reason being: director Dean Prisot (Galaxy Quest) shot with digital cameras, as opposed to the film used for the earlier Bill & Ted installments.

“That’s the thing about modern technology – and Keanu made a movie about high tech that I highly recommend” Winter said in cheeky reference to Reeves’ Matrix role, which made his co-star grin, before continuing: “When you shoot with film, the reels have to be changed and there are other limits. But with modern technology it’s easy to get burned out in shooting and editing because you can just keep going. And yet [director] Dean [Prisot] made me forget we weren’t shooting with film, which was a bit embarrassing because I’m a director. That’s because he paced it so well and didn’t just hose scenes down, even though we could with digital filming. He did it so smoothly it took me a few days to realize that.”

Speaking of modern times: Reeves and Winter were excited to bring Bill and Ted into present day adulthood, as husbands and fathers that have outgrown their laid-back adolescence, at least to an extent.

“We spent a lot of time discussing what that maturity, and how those pressures, would look like for Bill and Ted before shooting the new movie,” said Reeves. As he spoke, The Matrix star frequently gestured in wide, zen-like flowing arcs, evoking the martial arts he spent years studying in preparation for his action roles. It seems he applied similar sage wisdom to Bill & Ted Face the Music, saying: “We wanted to play these guys who are familiar to fans, while not resorting to caricatures of the past. It was important for the audience to feel the weight of these guys, but also the joy of their spirit.”

Winter agreed, saying “It was fun to play Bill and Ted as Dads.” He added that such nuance was always present throughout the Bill & Ted series, despite the raunchy reputation of many comedies of the day. “We never felt these movies were bro-ey, more childlike and sweet. And once you’re a parent it’s really not bro-ey. Bill and Ted love being parents and husbands, and having that element in this new movie gave us a new dynamic to play with.”

Such heartfelt moments didn’t, however, stop Winter and Reeves from having, like, a totally excellent time on set, dudes. In fact, the stars said fans of Bill and Ted will be especially pleased to see their beloved characters at an even later point in their lives in one scene— after they’ve gotten buff in the midst of a prison sentence, as shown in the new movie’s much talked about first trailer []

As Reeves put it: “Seeing these characters go from emotionally dark to light, and then exuberantly darker, was certainly a lot of fun” before chuckling and shaking his head enough to leave his long flowing mane swaying.

Winter arguably enjoyed working on that sequence all the more because, as fate would have it, his children decided to visit the set at that very moment. “We were sweating under all the fake muscle in 100 degree heat. And when I looked out at one point I saw my family, looking quite amused,” he recalled.

Beyond that, the actors didn’t want to spoil Bill & Ted’s latest chapter for the reporters on the call, or our readers. They did, however, treat us to a fitting conclusion to the video press conference, each placing one hand on their breast, and the other outward in the gesture that a generation of fans mimicked for years. Of course, you know what they said next:

Alex Winter/Bill: “Be excellent to each other.”

Keanu Reeves/Ted: “And party on dudes!”


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