Keanu Reeves Requested to Wear a Suit in 'Bill & Ted Face the Music'
by Fawnia Soo Hoo
Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Theodore "Ted" Logan have been ride or die best friends — like, literally, they went to hell in 1991's "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" — for 30 years. No doubt the two would be in a pandemic bubble together, alongside their daughters, Thea and Billie (named for each other), and former medieval princess spouses (whom they met while time traveling to complete a history class assignment in 1989's classic "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.")
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, the actors who play the titular characters, respectively, have also remained friends since their audition for the original. The two most excellently reunite for "Bill & Ted Face the Music" (written by original scribes Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson), which catches up with the lovable, unwitting time-traveling heroes, now in toiling in middle age. The two effortlessly stepped back into their iconic roles and endearing soul mate dynamic, and even conducted all their fittings together, according to the third installment's costume designer Jennifer Starzyk.
"No one's going to know Bill and Ted more than Keanu and Alex," says Starzyk, on a call. The costume designer enjoyed a close collaboration with the leads in bringing the beloved slacker rockers forward three decades. "It was super important to both Keanu and Alex that [Ted and Bill] weren't stuck in time in complete arrested development," she adds.
The team initially brainstormed "a lot of zany ideas," but then decided the more "wacky" costumes would make the most sense and impact for the alterna-versions of Bill and Ted. So they landed on more comfortable hero looks for the duo as they embark on their new adventure. With the help of Rufus's daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) — in a dress inspired by the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and "cowboy majorette" boots — Bill and Ted traverse the space-time continuum (and revisit the afterlife) in search of their original song, which will "unite the world" and save reality.
Reeves first threw out "some fun, fun, fun ideas, which maybe some of his fans would have liked to see him in. He was like, 'Maybe I'll wear a kilt!'" laughs Starzyk. "But when it really came down to it, he was like, 'I want to wear a version of a suit.'"
The actor squeezed in his initial fittings on a brief break during a worldwide tour promoting "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum," which premiered two days after his surprise cameo in "Always Be My Maybe" (wearing a Tom Ford suit) hit Netflix. As Starzyk jokes, maybe he just had tailored suits on the brain.
Reeves also referenced the natty suiting style of Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne. But, ultimately, "there was a comfort zone he wanted to land on, and he was very specific about the color and the fit," says Starzyk, who just came off custom-designing lots of '70s-era suiting for David Fincher's "Mindhunter."
After considering upwards of 100 swatches, they decided on a light gray shade for Ted's suit. Starzyk then re-worked an RVCA button-down covered in tiny lightning bolt-esque patterns for extra texture. Of course, Ted wears Converse Chuck Taylors with his suit, instead of, say, wingtips or loafers. There's also a throwback Easter Egg in Ted's final look that, sadly, the audience doesn't see.
"He wanted to bring something in from the other two [movies]," says Starzyk. That's how the character's favored yellow smiley face logo "ended up on his socks." (Although, look carefully for the motif elsewhere, plus the manifestation of another one of Reeves's requests: "'OK, I have to put leggings on,'" recalls Starzyk.)
"Alex's costume is very true to Bill," Starzyk says, crediting him for his color combo suggestion of a yellow plaid shirt over a blue T-shirt, which he wanted to decorate with a logo. Inspired by an image of a "three-headed sailor in a vintage skater sticker book," the costume designer asked Los Angeles-based graphic artist Dave Kloc to create a Wyld Stallyns interpretation of double-stallion-headed man.
"I gave [Winter] five options to choose from and he was like, 'It's that one! Let's put Wyld Stallyns on the back,'" she says.
The duo actually kicks off the movie in formalwear for a very delightful Preston and Logan family event (top): Bill wears a navy herringbone tuxedo by Giorgio Fiorelli and Ted coordinates in an eggplant one from Ryan Seacrest's collection. (I'm now imagining that they've been sending Wyld Stallyns applications into "American Idol" since 2002.)
The next generation, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving) — last seen as babies taking the stage with their dads in "Bogus Journey" — take a cue from their fathers ("Dads!") with their own close bond, uncanny Logan and Preston mannerisms and playfully timeless styles.
"We realized we could channel all of that irreverence and effervescence from their fathers into their characters," says Starzyk. "I just wanted [their style] to be eclectic, gender-neutral and cool. They just dress for themselves and have their own vibe and still channel their fathers'. Sort of like how a kid gets dressed; like, instinctually what you want to put on that makes you happy."
Like the actors playing their dads, Lundy-Paine and Weaving also did their fittings together and Starzyk presented both with plenty of options, which came together organically.
Billie's shorts look remains consistent starting with black biker shorts from Urban Outfitters, paired with a beaded lapel blazer by Amiri and accessorized with a jaunty vintage beret. To jump through time — and the afterlife — to help their dads, Ted's offspring wears a "meshy tie-dyed top" from Urban Outfitters, R13 long black asymmetrical shorts, vegan Dr. Martens combat boots and a vintage concho belt.
Bill's daughter Thea wears a red Hawaiian shirt, also by R13, layered under Levi's shorteralls, which Starzyk customized with a whimsical music reference. "We designed the little cassette patch. Only people my age would really really appreciate it," she laughs. "She was totally into it, 'I love the old thing!'"
Weaving, who ran around in a wedding dress and Chucks while trying to not get murdered in "Ready or Not," wore her own sneakers this time around, so Starzyk had to scour eBay in order to find a second pair of "very rare Nike" red high tops for multiples. She also dons another wink-wink Easter Egg with her slouchy striped suit by Closed and creepers: a "God Save the Queen" graphic t-shirt by MadeWorn.
"Their mothers were princesses," says Starzyk. "There was a little nod in there."
Nods also appear in "Bill & Ted superfan" Kid Cudi's high-top sneakers, which are a limited-edition Adidas collab inspired by Bill's kicks in "Bogus Journey." Plus, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor, above) pays a heartfelt homage to the late George Carlin and his time traveling mentor character, Rufus, with her custom-molded and -designed celestial guitar-neck shaped brooch, inspired by his lapel pin from the two earlier films. (Carlin's daughter in real life is also named Kelly.)
But Winter wanted to avoid "on-the-nose references" to the preceding movies, also as a generous gesture of passing the mantle to the new generation. Styrzk remembers a moment when he wasn't so into the idea of daughter Thea wearing a red backwards cap, à la Bill in "Bogus Journey."
"He's like, 'Let's pass on that because that's me in that movie and the daughters are themselves in this movie.'" That's being pretty excellent to each other (and party on, dudes!).
'Bill & Ted Face the Music' premieres on VOD and in theaters on Friday, Aug. 28.