It's been almost thirty years since Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and twenty-seven since their Bogus Journey, so needless to say, there's plenty of space for co-writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon to play with. What did these two righteous dudes do for the past three decades? Are they all grown up and settled down in San Dimas? Or did they find a way to hop back in that phone booth and keep traversing the course of time itself?
Ed Solomon recently sat down with Digital Spy and dished on where exactly the third film, Bill and Ted Face the Music, is going to pick up with the Wyld Stallyns, and who's helping bring this next installment in the trilogy to a big screen near you:
"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."
Whoa. Soderbergh's producing the next Bill & Ted picture with the director of Galaxy Quest attached? Far out. But what's it going to be about?
"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."
Middle-aged Bill & Ted is actually a hard thing to picture, almost like the Hot Tub Time Machine dudes but, y'know, likable. And yet, Solomon promises this isn't going to be some nostalgic cash-in, but a legit reason to catch up with the characters:
"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!"
However, the hurdle of George Carlin's death was one Solomon and Matheson knew they'd have to jump with care, as they wanted to provide Rufus with his own appropriate amount of closure:
"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."
Solomon revealed to DS that Face the Music sees Bill & Ted as family men, who travel back in time to both interact with their past selves, as well as Rufus. But are they going to recast Carlin in the iconic role?
"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..."
Solomon also said that Rufus will have a daughter named Kelly - named for the child Carlin left behind in his passing - who will play a "deep deep" role in the narrative of Face the Music, while all the interactions between present Bill & Ted and past Bill & Ted is a composite of new material and footage from '89's Excellent Adventure.
So, with all those plot details out of the way, what's the main hang-up in getting the next chapter of the Bill & Ted saga in front of our eyeballs? Well, that answer's slightly more predictable (at least in terms of Hollywood logic):
"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..."
Solomon also states that the lack of a wide international release for the originals - plus the fact that they were only modest box office hits - has also led to a snag in obtaining financing (though, in a landscape that involves multiple streaming outlets such as Netflix, it's tough to imagine IP like Bill & Ted not being seen as a hot commodity that wouldn't rely on such numbers). But the co-writer states that Face the Music keeps getting "closer and closer" to a greenlight, and that money isn't an issue for either he or Matheson:
"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."
Right on. In the meantime, you can catch Solomon's latest crime thriller Mosaic - which is also produced (not to mention directed) by Soderbergh - every night this week at 8/7c on HBO.