Shot by Shot
In 'Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey,' the esteemed dudes encounter evil robotic twins from the future
by Christopher Bagley
Photos by Raul Vega; grooming by Sharan Gault/Cloutier
The year is, like, 2691 A.D. The place, Bill and Ted University, a hallowed institution devoted to the study of all things "non-heinous." From all appearances, the two amiably dim-witted heroes of 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure have left quite a legacy; guitars are welcome all over campus, even in physics class.
But the excellence is disrupted when a fiendish villain commandeers the classroom and reveals his evil plot to go back in time and rid the world of Bill and Ted. To accomplish the mission, he has created two robotic replicas of his nemeses. In this early sequence from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the robots shock the class by ripping off their faces and exposing their innards.
The scene wasn't particularly taxing for stars Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, who had only to stand in front of the camera and move their lips around. Most of the dirty work was left to special-effects whiz Kevin Yagher, a veteran of three Nightmare on Elm Streets and three Child's Plays. Yagher was glad to have a break from gore. "You do enough of those movies," he says, "and you start going, 'Oh God, if I have to cut another person's head off or show another bloody stump, I'm just going to throw up.'"
Yagher made the robot heads out of clear vaccum-formed plastic and colorful tubing that glows like neon when placed under ultraviolet light. The heads were overlaid with foam-latex masks taken from facial molds of the two stars. During shooting, three men were needed to operate each robot; Yagher crouched behind the figures and manipuated the masks with his hands.
Toward the end of the sequence, Winter and Reeves step in again to show off their thespian skills. "You'll see them pull down on their lips," Yagher says, "like they're straightening their mouths out, getting everything in working order again." The last shot has Winter massaging his jaw.
So did it hurt?
"No," says Winter. "That was acting!"
For Yagher, however, the experience was real enough. "They had me do it over about 50 million times," he says. "I was sore for two days."