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SDCC '20: 'Bill & Ted Face the Music' panel

SDCC 2020

SDCC ’20: ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ panel

A most excellent look at Bill & Ted’s return to the big screen.

While we got a most triumphant new trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music earlier this week, SDCC brought the Wyld Stallyns themselves to Comic-Con@Home. Stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and William Sadler were joined by director Dean Parisot and writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson for an excellent panel moderated by Kevin Smith.

You can watch the panel embedded below and read some of the highlights after the break! Beware of some mild spoilers for the film during the conversation.

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The panel began with a fun visual gag that continued throughout, as each panelist arrived on screen in their own little window resembling Bill & Ted’s famous phone booth. Kevin Smith introduced the film by explaining to the audience how important the characters of Bill & Ted have been to him, even crediting them for inspiring his Jay and Silent Bob characters.

Smith also told the panelists that he watched the film yesterday and absolutely loved it. He said that the movie was very funny, but also emotionally affective. As Smith himself put it, “I cannot tell you how emotional this was for me.”

In discussing the origins of the franchise, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson explained that the characters that would become Bill & Ted came from an improv exercise they did years ago. They were asked to play two teenagers in a history class who didn’t know anything about history. From there, they enjoyed riffing as these surfer dude characters, often writing letters and calling one another as these personas. There were discussions at one point about making a short film based on the characters, but Chris Matheson’s father, legendary author and screenwriter Richard Matheson, convinced him that Bill & Ted could work as a feature.

Since Matheson and Solomon were both so attached to their characters, they were skeptical towards the idea that they anyone else could play them properly. However, a chance encounter with Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves at a McDonald’s convinced the pair that Bill & Ted were in the right hands.

This led to Kevin Smith asking about the audition process for the original film. There was a brief misunderstanding that led to a few jokes from Winter and Reeves regarding the “rigorous” auditions for Bill & Ted Face the Music. After riffing on this for a bit, they got into the long process that led to them playing Bill & Ted in the first place.

According to Alex Winter, the auditions for the first film took all day and were “grueling.” He also mentioned that they were brought back several times for different chemistry readings. Ultimately, Winter and Reeves expressed feeling relief when the auditions were finally over and they could begin work on the film. However, by the end of that process, the two had become actual friends.

Despite the popularity of the first two films, Alex Winter explained that it was a long time before either he or Reeves felt that had the right story and creative freedom to do a third flick. This is apparently one of the reasons why it took so long to get a third installment in the series.

Bill & Ted Face the Music
Orion Pictures

Smith asked the duo when they knew that the first film had become a pop culture phenomenon. For Reeves, it was when he noticed people yelling lines from the movie when they saw him out in public. Winter said that he went on vacation to Paris after the first movie premiered and observed kids over there talking just like Bill & Ted, which told him that the movie had crossover appeal.

Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving, who play Billie Logan and Thea Preston respectively, admitted that neither of them had seen the original films prior to auditioning. For Lundy-Paine, she didn’t want to watch too much so that she could go in fresh, just watching a short clip from the first film for prep. Weaving, on the other hand, watched both films back to back and said she loved them both.

Apparently everyone in the cast fed on one another’s energy splendidly. According to Alex Winter, he and Reeves both breathed a sigh of relief the first time they filmed a scene with their onscreen daughters. William Sadler, who reprises his role as Death in Face the Music, described spraining his wrist during his very first scene, but says he relaxed back into a groove the second he got to work with Reeves and Winter again.

For Reeves and Winter, it felt like just right getting back to playing these characters. Reeves explained, “I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way that working on Bill & Ted does and working with Alex … that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me.”

As for Winter, he described being tired out by how physical the movie was, but that he had one moment in particular where the new film clicked for him. He said that upon wrapping a particular scene involving alternate versions of Bill & Ted, he felt like he and Keanu both had a most excellent realization: “Bill & Ted are f—ing back.”

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