If You Love Bill and Ted, You Have Richard Matheson to Thank

When writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson began playing two characters named Bill and Ted, it was mostly as a fun improv exercise. It was Chris Matheson’s dad, Richard Matheson, the author of I Am Legend, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, and many, many other amazing stories, who told them they could “make a whole movie” around the pair.

This revelation startled me, and it seemed to surprise moderator Kevin Smith as well! Smith opened the Most Excellent Comic-Con Panel for Bill & Ted Face the Music by nodding to Bill and Ted’s status as a comedy team that inspired his own Jay and Silent Bob, and went on to say that he got to watch B&TFM to prep for the panel, and that he spent the last half hour of the movie bawling because it was a “transcendent” experience. You can watch the whole charming panel with writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, cast Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and William Sadler, and director Dean Parisot (who also did Galaxy Quest holy crap!!!) here, or hop down for a few highlights!

A surprising origin story! 

Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson were the original Bill and Ted, when they began playing the characters studying for a history test together as part of an improv exercise. ES: Once we did it in front of an audience at UCLA. We took question as Bill and Ted, and basically everything was either ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Bogus.’”

 

On the sequel

While the studio simply wanted Bill and Ted to travel through time again, Solomon and Matheson had other ideas. ES: What if we just…kill ’em?

 

On the original audition:

AW: It was a grueling, and somewhat unnecessarily prolonged experience.

 

On the cultural phenomenon of it all:

KR: Sometimes I would just be in the street and people would yell, “BE EXCELLENT!!! PARTY ON!!!”

AW: I went on a vacation to Paris right after the first one, and I remember walking down the Champ Elysee and saw some skate punk kids, like 10 or 11 years old, and they were talking like Bill and Ted.

 

On the Next Generation:

Bridgette Lundy-Paine hadn’t seen the movies before their audition and wanted to go in without any influence. I watched like a two-second clip of what their voices sounded like, and then went in, and was just as goofy as possible.

Australian Samara Weaving had never heard of the films, but when she got the email her partner immediately jumped up and said “in this surfer voice I had never heard before: Dude! You gotta get this movie, bro!” which was when she realized the films’ cultural impact on America.

 

 

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