Bill & Ted writer reveals how the planned third film will pay tribute to George Carlin's Rufus
by Morgan Jeffery
The last film in the franchise was released 27 years ago, with a sequel in active development for almost a decade, so why has it taken so long for a new Bill & Ted movie to materialise?
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, writer Ed Solomon – who, with Chris Matheson, created the characters and wrote both original movies – revealed fresh details about the film, called Bill & Ted Face the Music, and why it's proving so hard to pull together.
"We have been working for almost 10 years to get this thing made; Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, Chris Matheson, me... we have a director – Dean Parisot, who did Galaxy Quest – Steven Soderbergh is one of our producers. We have a wonderful assembly of people.
"We have a script that we really are proud of, that we worked very hard on, that we've done many iterations of – and we did it on spec, meaning we spent years working on it because we wanted to get it right, creatively.
"This is not, 'Hey let's all cash-in on the Bill & Ted thing for money' – this is the opposite. This is, 'We love these characters, they've been with us for our whole lives' – Chris and me, and Alex and Keanu – and we wanted to visit them again as middle-aged men. We thought it would be really fun, and funny, and sweet.
"We really think there's another movie to be done that is the opposite of cynical, that is actually made with love. [It'll be] made with love and affection for the characters, and affection for the fans of Bill & Ted. All of us really want to give the people who love Bill & Ted, and people who haven't even discovered Bill & Ted yet, a movie that is worthy of their affection. And we're trying!"
Face the Music will see Winter and Reeves play middle-aged versions of Bill and Ted, who are now family men rather than young aspiring musicians. However, the death of actor / comedian George Carlin in 2008 posed a problem when it came to the character of Bill and Ted's mentor Rufus.
Solomon confirmed, however, that the new film will not only address the loss of Carlin, but serve as a tribute to the beloved comic and his character.
"George Carlin is so deeply missed by all of us. There is a... not just an homage to him, it's more than that. His absence is a part of the whole movie."
The threequel will see the older Bill and Ted travel back in time, Solomon revealed, to interact with both their past selves and Rufus – using footage from 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Strange things will once more be afoot at the Circle K...
"There's actually a scene – one of my favourite scenes in the whole movie – where middle-aged, 50-year-old Bill and Ted return to the Circle K and see their teen selves and Rufus, and actually interact with their teenage selves, played by their actual teenage selves.
"They return to that scene at the Circle K when Bill and Ted first meet themselves, only now they're watching their younger selves and looking at the exuberance and joy that they had at that time in their lives. And they see Rufus, they see George Carlin...
"There's also a character in the movie named Kelly, which is George's daughter's name, who has a very significant role in the journey, so George is a deep, deep part of it."
Solomon confirmed that he's still in meetings trying to get Bill & Ted Face the Music made and that the film "keeps getting close" to a green-light... so what's actually preventing it from happening?
One issue, he explained, is that Hollywood prefers the idea of a Bill & Ted reboot, as opposed to a straight sequel. "We are having issues raising money for it, getting it financed, because what we get all the time – all the time – is people wanting to reboot it.
"It's 'Let's do Bill & Ted with new teenagers', but what we wanna do is the story of Bill and Ted as middle-aged men, and tell what we think could be a really funny, and actually really moving, story about their lives and where they are now – their families, their kids..."
Another obstacle is convincing financiers that Face the Music would make money at the box office, since the original movie "wasn't released [widely] internationally and didn't have a giant release in the States".
"But it's one of those movies that has grown over time," he continued. "I'm certain that whoever invests in this could make their money back, and hopefully a lot more.
"It's never gonna be a movie that me and Chris Matheson get rich on. I've never made much money off of Bill & Ted. We never get profits from it, our salaries were very small from it, but it's the one movie in my life that... if I'd never done anything but Bill & Ted, I would've been really happy.
"Chris and I have said this to each other many times, if the only thing we put into the world ever was this notion of 'Be excellent to each other', we could look each other in the eye and feel like we did something right. I really feel that, and I'm really proud of that."