It’s a bit strange to think that 25 years ago Keanu Reeves was time-traveling through a phone booth with George Carlin. But indeed it has been a quarter century since two party animals from San Dimas rounded up a bunch of historical figures for their history project and gave us one of the strangest teen comedies in existence. The movie would go on to spawn a sequel, video game, breakfast cereal, and internet meme with its SoCal catchphrases and radical air guitar solos.
In celebration of Bill and Ted’s most excellent adventure — and the possibility of a third film — here are 10 facts you might not know about the radical cult comedy.
1. Bill and Ted’s time machine phone booth was given away as a contest prize. The defunct Nintendo Power Magazine used the phone booth from the movie as prize when it was promoting the Bill & Ted game for NES. The lucky winner was Kenneth Grayson, who according to Reddit, became an instant celebrity in his neighborhood and has used the booth for sex on at least two occasions. Most excellent, Kenneth!
2. Eddie Van Halen was down for joining the Wyld Stallyns. In the movie, Bill and Ted admit that they need Eddie Van Halen to make their garage band better. The studio never approached Eddie about doing a cameo, but the rock star jokingly said he would have joined the band if somebody had asked.
3. The filmmakers didn’t give a sh*t about Doctor Who. The script was originally written with Bill and Ted time-traveling in a 1969 Chevy Van, but the filmmakers thought it would come off as a rip-off of Back To The Future. The van was switched out for a phone booth without concern that Doctor Who used a police phone booth as its time machine. (Why are people only using cars and phone booths to time-travel, how about a photo booth or pontoon boat? Kudos to Hot Tub Time Machine for breaking the mold.)
4. Napoleon’s waterslide presentation was a map of the French invasion of Russia. During Napoleon’s presentation at the end of the movie Ted looks up and says, “I don’t think it’s gonna work.” He was actually right, because if you look closer at the maps you can see that Napoleon was laying out the French invasion of Russia, which ended in a horrible defeat for him.
5. The “Ziggy Pig” ice cream dish is a reference to a comic book character. The name of the giant ice cream dish comes from a comic book put out by Timely Comics — which later became Marvel. The award that is given to Napoleon upon finishing the dish was based on the ice cream award by Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, upon successfully finishing their double-sized banana split, the “Pig Through.”
6. It wasn’t the only time Abraham Lincoln and Genghis Khan would appear in a film together. Despite being born 582 years apart, the two historical figures appeared in three additional films together: Star Trek: The Savage Curtain, Clone High, and Night at the Museum 2.
7. The Weasel auditioned for the role of Ted. Pauly Shore auditioned for the role of Ted, but of course lost the part to Keanu.
8. Bill and Ted were supposed to take the princesses to the prom. The movie was originally supposed to end with the dudes taking their bodaciuos princess babes to the prom (the cover of the British VHS release even had a prom photo on the cover). This ending of the film was scrapped for whatever reason, possibly not testing well with audiences Alex Winter speculates: “I’m not sure if they tested it and people didn’t respond or if the producers just got cold feet. “I have no memory whatsoever, I just remember thinking that the bigger ending was better.”
9. The casting of George Carlin was a happy accident. It seems a bit odd, but the studio originally wanted to cast a serious actor for the role of Rufus, somebody like Sean Connery according to Alex Winter. Shortly after they had started filming somebody had the idea of George Carlin and the legendary comedian agreed to take the role.
10. Bill and Ted may return for another excellent adventure. We saw Bill and Ted go on a bogus journey and even morph into a cartoon series, but a third adventure for the radical dudes be in the works. In 2011, Winter tweeted that he had read a script for a third movie and in December of last year Reeves told the Today Show that he was open to doing another movie. Here’s Reeves thoughts on the possibility of the two time-traveling again:
“I’m open to the idea of that. I think it’s pretty surreal, playing ‘Bill & Ted’ at 50. But we have a good story in that. You can see the life and joy in those characters, and I think the world can always use some life and joy.”