Bill & Ted Face the Music co-writer talks story details, characters, & more

After almost 30 years of waiting, it's time to throw up your horns and bust out your aggressive air guitar, because Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are set to reprise their roles as Theodore "Ted" Logan and "Bill" S. Preston Esq. for the much-anticipated sequel BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC! News of a third film in the franchise moving into production emerged from the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, along with the announcement that Dean Parisot (RED 2, FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, GALAXY QUEST) would direct from a script penned by the original creators of the series, Chris Matheson(IMAGINE THAT) and Ed Solomon (MEN IN BLACK).

Here's the official plot synopsis for the upcoming film:

When we last met Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) they were time-traveling teenagers trying to pass history class and win the battle of the bands. Once prophesied to save the universe with their rock and roll, middle age and the responsibilities of family have caught up with these two best friends who have not yet fulfilled their destiny. They’ve written thousands of tunes, but they have yet to write a good one, much less the greatest song ever written. With the fabric of time and space tearing around them, a visitor from the future warns our heroes that only their song can save life as we know it. Out of luck and fresh out of inspiration, Bill and Ted set out on a time travel adventure to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe as we know it. Together with the aid of their daughters, a new crop of historical figures, and some sympathetic music legends, Bill and Ted find much, much more than just a song.

Recently, BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC co-writer Ed Solomon sat down with Collider's own Adam Chitwood to discuss a myriad of details about the new project, from specific plot details to the creative team's plans to introduce new characters to the franchise. While Solomon has been rather transparent about his ambitions for a third adventure featuring two of cinema's most lovable boneheads, the MEN IN BLACK and NOW YOU SEE ME screenwriter would like to assure fans that there are still plenty of surprises on the way for the saviors from San Dimas.

When asked about the story of BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC, Solomon told Chitwood: 

"Bill and Ted were told at 16 that they were going to be the greatest people who ever lived. That they were gonna write a song that is going to save the world, and it hasn’t happened. And now they are middle-aged men. They’ve got wives who used to be princesses in medieval England who are now working double shifts at Denny’s, they’ve got teenagers that are about to leave home, money is tight, and they’ve been chasing this dream, writing song after song, when somebody from the future shows up and says, “You have 24 hours. The fate of all of space/time depends on it – and if it doesn’t happen now, it’s never gonna happen.” Bill and Ted are confused because they know they had to have written it, because after all the people in the future told them they did.. so they just must not have written it yet. So in their desperation they decide their only option is to go into the future – to when the have written it – and to steal it from themselves. What follows is a kind of utterly absurd, Christmas Carol-like journey through their lives past, present, and future. Their daughters (Bill has a daughter named Thea, Ted’s daughter is named Billie) are also very involved in trying to help them.

It’s a total comedy, but I think it’s really, really grounded in the sweetness that is Bill and Ted and the emotion of where they would be at this point in their life."

Oh man, you'll have to pardon my pun, but that plot is music to my ears. For my money, it sounds like a very natural progression for the characters, though according to Solomon, the above mentioned plot wasn't what studios had in mind for a sequel, back in the day. Observe:

"After we did the first movie and the financiers came to us and said can we do a second, the powers that be wanted to do a sequel that was like a rehash of the first movie. It basically was like, “Now Bill and Ted have to pass an English test, so now they go into fiction and books!” and we were like, “Um… okay… that sounds like the same old thing.” Neither Chris nor I wanted to do that, so we were like, “What if we kill them and send them to Hell and bring them back?” Well we’re trying to take the same approach here which is to say we’re not rehashing anything—although there’s time travel and some of our favorite people from the movies are in it—we’re trying to really go: it’s been 30 years. Let’s be real about the passage of time. We want to maintain the tone, the sweetness, the absurdity and we want it to be a movie that is not just for fans of the first movie but hopefully for people of any age who haven’t seen the movies. But most importantly, we want it to be something unique – something people haven’t seen before. Also, we think it’s really cool to take characters you last saw as teenagers and explore them again as middle aged men. What would that be like? That was one of the main draws for Chris and me.

Our hope is that it has a story and adventure that would appeal to anyone, but also under that hopefully themes and humor that would appeal to both kids and adults. But the main thing was we were trying to make ourselves laugh."

As Solomon's talk about the film continued, he began telling Collider about the evolution of the idea for a sequel, which began with a frank discussion about what the team did not want the film to be. Their private chatter about the project began about 10 years ago, when Solomon, Matheson, Reeves, and Winter began kicking around ideas with regard to where Bill and Ted would be if their careers as world peace-creating musicians had yet to begin. Eventually, the group came together on the idea of, “What does it mean to be in the middle of your life when as a youth you had dreams that haven’t become fulfilled? How do you do that and keep your spirit, or in this case your ‘Bill and Ted-ness?’,” says Solomon. With the seed of an idea firmly planted in their creative minds, Solomon and Matheson began writing a script for a Bill & Ted sequel on spec, meaning that they were writing for a property they didn't own. It's a risky thing to do in today's break-neck Hollywood world, where everyone is trying to beat the other to a good idea, though sometimes passion rules over property, if you will.

Interestingly enough, after writing a few drafts, Solomon and Matheson received word that the studio had commissioned a script (from someone else) for a reboot of BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. However, plans for the reboot fell through, and writing continued for both Solomon and Matheson, who were now determined more than ever to see their ideas up on the big screen.

"We really held our ground, and we kept revising the script, trying to make it as good as we could make it. But finally, and I owe a lot of this to fans of the movie and also the people in the press who have been writing about it recently, I think the people at MGM started to see that maybe there was more of an audience for a direct sequel (as opposed to a reboot). Or at least an audience for the one we were trying to do," Solomon explained. He then added, "Towards the end of last year I went to MGM and I sat down with a whole bunch of people from MGM and basically said, “I know you guys really want to do all these other Bill & Ted things, I promise that we will all help you guys with that stuff if you help us get this movie made. Because this is the movie that we really believe in, and if we can make it for a price that won’t break the bank, we really believe that there would be an audience that could come see it.” Especially if we can do our jobs right and make it good, I mean obviously we have all the right intentions and do all the hard work, but then it’s up to the movie gods. It’ll either live or die based on whether we fulfilled the promise of it or not. But our intentions are in the right place, I think."

In looking at some of the new characters set to be introduced in BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC, I can't help but wonder about how Bill and Ted's daughters will fit into the picture. Will they join their fathers on the time-traveling adventure? Would doing so cause a paradoxical event from which they could never return? Is it possible to continue the franchise with the young ladies as our new leads? When asked about Thea and Billie, Solomon told Chitwood:

"Yeah I mean if this movie works out and people come to see it, yeah then it could go on with Bill and Ted’s daughters, I guess. But that’s not something that we’re really focused on right now. We want to do this first."

Then, when asked about the daughters' personalities, Solomon responded by saying, "They are brilliant and ridiculous and sweet, and we think would be two amazing roles for two young women, up-and-coming comedic talent. There’s a lot of room for really interesting cameos in this one as well, from all sorts of people."

As the interview continued, Solomon was then asked to speak about the appointment of Dean Parisot as the film's director:

"He’s really funny and really absurd, but he also has a really deep heart and a deep soul, and he’s had a lot of personal loss in his life as well," Solomon stated. "So I think he can blend the underlying deeper emotional track and the surface ridiculousness of so many parts of the story that he is just literally exactly the right person."

There's lots more in the full interview over at Collider, though for now, I'd like to leave you all with this bit I enjoyed about what Bill & Ted's chances are at being a success in today's Hollywood market that's chock full of superheroes and CGI blockbusters.

"First of all, we’re not gonna have the budget to be a big CG Marvel movie (laughs). This is an independent film – in budget and in spirit. And by the way – the first one was, too. But here’s how I think it really stands out: A lot of comedy right now is really cynical. It’s either snarky or self-referential or “meta” or really dark or really negative, and Bill & Ted is none of those. It’s sweet. There’s nothing cynical and there’s nothing snarky in this movie, and if that’s what you like – cynical, dark, malevolent humor – then you’re not gonna like this movie. At a time when there’s just so much negativity everywhere, I feel like this movie is complete counter-programming to that. And by the way, I don’t just mean negativity in terms of comedy being made, I mean negativity in terms of politics, media, etc. This is going in a very different direction. Bill & Ted’s motto – and essentially the message of the movie – is “Be excellent to each other,” and “Party on dudes,” and I think that’s where this movie naturally wants to be. It’s not like we sat down thinking what can we counter-program, either. This is just who Bill and Ted are. It’s about Bill and Ted trying to keep their Bill and Ted-ness alive (laughs). Chris and I have often said to each other if all we did in our entire careers was put the phrase “Be excellent to each other” out into the world, we feel like that would not have been such a bad thing." I couldn't have said it better myself, Mr. Solomon, right on.

For the moment, BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC does not have a concrete start date just yet, though it's to be expected that production on the film will be turned up to eleven after Keanu Reeves completes his work on JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3.

We'll be sure to bring you more news on BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC as it happens. Until then, be excellent to each other, station, and 69, dudes!

Source: Collider



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