7 Bombshells Uncovered From a Defunct Bill and Ted Podcast
A Youtube time capsule stuffed with forgotten treasures
Bill and Ted, the timeless classic comedy featuring two time-travelling dudes from San Dimas, California, inspired two sequels, a cartoon show, and a generation of bodacious fans to “Be excellent to each other”. It also inspired a short-lived podcast which has some lesser-known facts and anecdotes about the films. Let’s dial in and go back in time to 2015!
# 1: Alex Winter funded his documentary Deep Web using bitcoin
Something that a lot of people might not know is that Alex Winter has carved out a career as a documentary filmmaker. Deep Web was a sequel of sorts to his previous work, Downloaded, a film about the history and legacy of Napster. In this episode of the podcast, Alex talked about how his latest venture was being funded using the very technologies that the film was highlighting. Deep Web featured the controversial Silk Road website, famously shut down by the FBI in 2013-2014. To help raise funds for the documentary, Alex offered a series of Bill and Ted related prizes, including screening parties and autographed scripts.
# 2: Billy Dee Williams was the original choice for the part of Rufus
According to David Linck (unit publicist on the movie), the part of Rufus was written for Billy Dee Williams. He passed on the project just weeks before shooting, for reasons unknown. Imagine him stepping out of the telephone booth, maybe wearing a cape, it would have been awesome. After Williams dropped out, Frank Zappa became Rufus for one day. Yes, the genius behind Weasels Ripped My Flesh was briefly in talks to play Bill and Ted’s mentor. It didn’t pan out, but fortunately, George Carlin was cast and the rest is history.
# 3: A Writer and artist called Bo was working on a book called The Keanu Code
Strap yourselves in, this is going to get weird. Apparently, there is a hidden mysticism buried in the celluloid of many of Keanu Reeves’s movies. In the interview, author Bo talks about the many saviour roles Keanu plays Then he starts talking about Speed and, excuse the pun, the wheels start coming off. Bo fixates on the number 13 in Speed, among other “significant” numbers, and how it relates to 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar. Before long, the three acts of the movie have become three distinct layers of reality and my heart goes out to Linda Kay, the poor podcast host.
# 4: According to Alex Winter, he performed audition scenes with Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman
At a screening Q&A in NYC, Alex recalls the audition process for casting Ted. Anyone who was anyone at the time was seen. Among the luminaries were Pauly Shore, Kiefer Sutherland and Corey Feldman, all reading Ted’s part. Alex performed the “don’t be dead, dude” scene with them all, ad nauseum. According to Alex, the writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon were in a MacDonald’s, fretting over whether they got the casting right, when they overheard two “dudes” bickering about what to order. Both Chris and Ed said, “why can’t we get those guys? They’re perfect” and it turned out to be Alex and Keanu.
# 5: A Florida-based movie night opened with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Marc Ferman started Popcorn Nights in Florida in 2014 and their opening film was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary at the time. As well as a screening they had a skype Q&A with Alex Winter and Diane Franklin (who plays Princess Joanna). Popcorn Nights is still going strong, and also has a horror spin-off night called Popcorn Frights.
# 6: Kimberly Kates discovered she’d been fired from a fellow actress
Kimberly Kates (Princess Elizabeth in the first movie) found out she and Diane Franklin had been recast in Bogus Journey from fellow actress Leah Remini, who had read for the part. According to Kimberly, the British director Peter Hewitt had been given casting approval and didn’t like the two American actresses playing English royalty. Kimberly went on to be mentored by Martin Scorsese and is now a successful producer.
# 7: Bill and Ted’s writers were in the same playwriting class as Shane Black
Shane Black, famous screenwriter and filmmaker, was in the same playwriting class in college with Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. According to Matheson, Black didn’t write a single word the whole time he was there until the last day when he walked in with a play that blew everyone away. He went on to write and perform in Predator, and later wrote Iron Man 3.
If you want to hear these episodes in full, they’re on a youtube channel called Wyld Stallyns 4Ever. It has hours of Bill and Ted extras from TV spots, to clips of the forgotten TV spin-off, to storyboards that were either omitted from the final cut or never shot.