In Bill & Ted Face the Music, there’s a scene where Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are in a joint couples therapy with their wives (Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes). What’s notable about this scene is, according to director Dean Parisot, it’s the first scene shot with the pair back together again since 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. It really is pretty unbelievable a third Bill & Ted movie exists.
The script was written over ten years ago and Parisot, for his part, has been attached for at least eight of those years. He’s the third director of this franchise (Stephen Herek and Pete Hewitt directed the first two movies, respectively) and he wanted to bring his own sensibilities to this installment. Which, yes, that’s what every director does. But Parisot had to take these two characters that we last saw as lovable but dumb teens and make them into middle-aged adults who still function in society. And the trick of the third Bill & Ted movie is that its underlying tone is a little more tragic. The dreams and aspirations of naive teenagers look a lot different through the eyes of an adult, and this movie takes a look at that head-on, but yet, is still a Bill & Ted movie. Ahead, Parisot explains just how he threaded that needle.
Bill and Ted are back. I still can’t believe that’s true.
Well, it was interesting to finish it during a pandemic. I’ll tell you that.
I talked to Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson and they said you remind them of Bill and Ted.
I do? That’s hysterical. They remind me of Bill and Ted! They are Bill and Ted! Well, that’s an interesting point of view. But I don’t know what to say about that, except I don’t know if I’m that delusionally optimistic.
Well, wouldn’t that be a nice thing to be right now? Because I’m delusionally pessimistic lately.
This is, strangely, even more somehow apropos to our moment in history. I wish it wasn’t in some ways, but there you go.
You’ve been attached to direct this for a while, right?
Well, I knew Ed for many years and we’ve worked on other things together, and Chris wrote it, too. Eleven years ago, I think? And then he asked me I think in 2011 or 2012. So what’s that? Seven years ago?
Well, night or eight.
Eight? Jesus Christ. Okay, stop, stop. I don’t want to know anymore.
Well, there’s no concept of time anymore, so it doesn’t matter.
Yeah. We proved that with Bill and Ted. It’s quantum physics. I remember a moment where I’m with Keanu and Alex. And we’re talking about the project and I said, “Well, you guys have been on this for a really long time.” And they said, “Dude, you’ve been on it for six years.” It got set up, then it fell apart. Then it got set up and it fell apart. What can you say? It’s the movie business. It happens.
And then there’s the story of the studio wanting to replace Alex and Keanu with Instagram stars.
I know, there is a lot of that insanity. It’s hard enough to get a comedy made theatrically. But to take Bill and Ted out of a Bill and Ted movie? Anyway, it is what it is. We won!
Obviously you didn’t direct the other two movies. But when you go back and watch the other two, what tone do you want to capture? Because rewatching the other two, these guys are really sweet guys, but then there’s some stuff of the era that would be problematic today.
Yeah. We had those discussions. Obviously I bring my sensibility with me. I can’t help it. And I think in trying to make this more contemporary, I grounded it, or tried to ground it a little more. And to not be less obvious, maybe sometimes. And the film language has changed. The world that they’re in needed to be believable, for this moment in movie history. So, it was just a way of making it feel like it’s a movie that needs to be made now. Also, they’ve changed, they’re middle-aged, right? There’s a different kind of weight to that than some teenagers. So, families and children, it’s different. Plus, it’s slightly more tragic. But I find things that are tragic as funny. So, but that’s my own perversion.
Did all that come naturally? In the first two movies, they are just kind of these whimsical dumb kids. As adults, they can’t just be stupid.
Yeah. They can’t, they’ve been responsible citizens. They had a career. It’s about two middle-aged characters. Really, the thing you preserve is their incredible friendship. And their unbridled hope and goodwill and optimism that they will find a solution. And that’s Bill and Ted, right? And certainly, I think, hopefully we’ll find that as a society someday soon.
What was the first scene you shot with them? I’m just curious if it was weird to see them as Bill and Ted for the first time in 29 years?
It was a little bit, but not. Because those guys are ridiculously talented and gifted as filmmakers. They’ve all made movies that they’ve produced. They’re phenomenal actors, right? They really figured it out, right from the beginning. It wasn’t difficult. At best, I was a conductor, attempting to host a party and create an environment where we could make the film. But no, it’s those two guys, it really is.
What was the first scene?
I believe it was the therapy scene.
Oh, that’s great. That’s interesting to know. It really was great seeing them together again.
It took a village and it was a nice village that we lived in. But, basically, it’s just, Bill and Ted being Bill and Ted.
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