Bill And Ted's 'Bogus' Journeyman
How director Pete Hewitt isn't quite what you might imagine him to be
by David Aldridge
Now, not a lot of people know this.
But the maker of that seemingly most American of movies, Bill And Ted's Bogus Joumey, is no Yank.
Its 29-year-old director, Pete Hewitt, is, in fact, British to his boots.
Now, not a lot of people know either.
But the smash-hit Keanu Reeves/Alex Winter comedy, which 20.20 Vision video-releases on June 24, was this bogus dude's proper feature.
Previously, he'd made just student shorts and music videos.
So how come he beat a reported 50 more-experienced movie makers to land a 23-million-dollar mega movie as his full-blown directorial debut.
"I was just in the right place at the right time", he tells me, with some understatement.
"Oh, and I had the right film too".
The film in question was a student short he'd done, and which he was touting round US distributors on spec.
Entitled The Candy Show, it's the tale of a guy obsessed with an American TV sit-com.
And, says, Hewitt, it went down well. Stateside, where its satire, more often than not, was obtusely misaken, it seems, for affectionate pastiche.
Two of the men it went down well with were movie guys, who expressed interest in expanding The Candy Show into a full-length film.
Coincidentally, the self-same twosome worked for the companies which were making Bill And Ted 2. And those companies, equally coincidentally, were just starting to interview possible directors.
"I think they thought that someone coming from outside would be able to bring in a fresh way of looking at things", Hewitt tells me.
They may not have realised quite how fresh, though.
For Hewitt openly admits now to having been utterly unfamiliar with Bill and Ted back then.
Hell, he hadn't even seen the first film.
"I rushed out and rented the video", he reveals. "And I thought that they were just the sort of characters I'd like to work with.
"I was especially inspired by the friendship between the two of them.
"Some people might see Bill and Ted as quintessentially American. But I think they're in the global Tradition of any great comic pairing.
"They're a latter-day Laurel and Hardy.
"We've all had friends we can simply look at and, without saying anything, know exactly what they're thinking.
"Bill and Ted have that kind of relationship.
"Also, the kinds of films that I've always gravitated towards, in terms of my own personal viewing tastes, have been cartoony, bigbudget American special effects films.
"Now, here was my chance to make one. It was like a dream come true."
Bill And Ted's Bogus Joumey, in which deadly robo-doubles do-in San Dimas's most-dynamic duo, and dispatch them to meet not only the Grim reaper, but also the 'downstairs' and 'upstairs' dudes, was originally entitled Bill And Ted Go To Hell.
And it originally, Hewitt says, had much of the first film's feel about it.
"But none of us wanted to simply do a retread job. Not me. Not Keanu. Not Alex. And not the writers, who I got on very well with. We had a great time just changing things.
"We were all anxious to do something weirder, wilder and a lot different.
"You've met Bill and Ted, we argued. Now see them in a film - something more cinematic, more effectsy, and with more action. But with the same feeble humour.
"We also allowed Bill and Ted to grow up. To have their own apartment. To have girlfriends.
"You could go on making films about them for years like that - just making them a little older each time. It's like they did with Laurel and Hardy".
Hewitt coolly maintains that he wasn't at all phased by his first day on a mega movie set.
"It was fundamentally similar to the sort of movie-making I'd already done", he says.
"The differences were really only differences of degree. The budget was bigger. The sets were bigger. The crew was bigger. And the actors were being paid much more.
"It wasn't just me and a cameraman, as The Candy Show had been".
Hewitt rates the whole thing "a very good experience", and says he'd be quite happy, were he to be asked, to make another Bill and Ted movie.
A third, Bill And Ted Get Spaced, has, in fact, been mooted. However, Keanu Reeves, at least, seems uninterested in getting involved.
But the movie that Hewitt would really like to make is Judge Dredd - a huge sci-fi epic currently in development that features the future law-enforcement figure from cult UK fantasy comic 2000AD.
However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now a distinct possible for the part, and Hewitt, who says he was hired to direct, now fears he'll be sidelined as the project gets elevated to a level well above his.
"Thing is", says Dredd-nut Hewitt, "I've a better knowledge of the material than any other director".
In the meantime, he's developing what he self-deprecatingly describes as "yet another British caper movie". Working title is The Return Of The Caper Gang.