Q&A with Evan Richards
We've heard from many excellent
personages since launching Bill & Ted's
Excellent Online Adventure. But imagine our
surprise when we received an e-mail from Evan Richards himself! He had a
few criticisms to make about our less-than-glowing review of Fox's live action
series Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, especially a few quotes from
a magazine which had been attributed to him (we have since removed these).
He didn't feel we'd fairly represented his true feelings about working on the
series, and we had to agree, so we asked if he wouldn't mind setting the record
straight and letting the fans know about his experiences working on the
series. Evan was gracious enough to send in answers to our questions, and
we're very pleased to be able to present them to you now!
B&TEOA: When did you first become an
actor and how?
ER: I started when I was a toddler. My mother initiated
me. I started with diaper commercials.
My mom was a famous ingenue in the 50's / 60's. Her name
is Diana Darrin and she worked on many films and television programs, including
the classic film "Marty," "The Incredible Shrinking Man,"
and the later shorts that The Three Stooges made. She was also the lead in
a movie Jack Nicholson had a supporting role in called "The Broken
So I started doing commercials. I also did stage
(including Broadway; a Tony nominated show called "Copperfield" based
on the Charles Dickens book. I played young David Copperfield). I
was also in "Oliver," "Evita," and many other plays.
That lead to starring roles in movies and television
series. "Down and Out In Beverly Hills," "Twilight Zone -
The Movie" (The Spielberg episode), "Mute Witness," "Rock
and Roll High School Forever," "Dream Machine," "Young
Indiana Jonesí Chronicles" (George Lucas Produced / Directed).
Thereís more credits if you check out my page at IMDB (see
below for a direct link!).
B&TEOA: Were you a fan of the Bill
& Ted movies prior to landing the role in the television series?
ER: Very much. I was just as enamoured by the charm and
uniqueness of the two characters and their situation as everyone else was.
I had read the feature film script and wasnít sure how it was going to
play. The initial perception of the script was that Bill and Ted was very
much like the Sean Penn role from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"
divided into two. But Bill and Ted werenít surfers. They were just
B&TEOA: You had the opportunity to
portray Bill S. Preston, Esq. What was your take on the character and how
did you prepare for the role?
ER: I actually watched the movie repeatedly to familiarize
myself with the essence of Alex and Keanuís approach to those characters . . .
to try and gain insight into what motivated their logic and speech
pattern. At one point I ran into Keanu on the street who offered some
advice; to basically have fun with it and never take them (Bill and Ted) too
seriously. "Be excellent," in a nutshell.
I have to say that I truly immersed myself into Bill and Tedís
world - not saying that I went insane or anything. Just wanted to have a
great time making the best television series possible. How cool to act
that off beat and get away with it?!
B&TEOA: Was there a lot of competition
for the part? Also explain the audition process a little if you can.
Were you asked to test against several different actors? And what was it
like when you and Chris Kennedy were finally paired as a team?
ER: Yes. There was a lot of competition. I had them
all murdered (joke, of course). However, at a certain point I was building
confidence about getting the role. Only because I felt I was connecting
with it so much. But you never know in this business. So I was extremely
shocked when my agent called to say that I had it. Iíll tell you this
much, it was a great day.
You have to understand that when I auditioned I walked into the
producerís office as Bill . . . not as Evan. I never let on to them that
this - being the person Bill S. Preston Esquire - wasnít me. I had to
prove to them that I could pull this off. The best way was to never let
the "illusion" down.
One of my good friends at the time was auditioning for the part
of Ted. I was hoping weíd get to work on the series together.
Ironically enough, his name was Chris. So when they told me Chris got the
role, I thought we had got the gig together.
Then I found out about Chris Kennedy, which worked out just as
well. This was the first big break that Chris got. He was from
Canada, where we filmed the series. Vancouver for the Los Angeles Valley.
B&TEOA: What was it like working with
ER: I very much respect Clifton. He comes from a Chicago
theatre background. I, too, am into theatre of any type (Iíve written plays
and of course thereís my acting background) and when I heard he was a
venerated playwright in the windy city, that just almost automatically upped the
quality of what we were about to do on the television series.
He was also very open to suggestions. I tried to
contribute to the script whenever I was inspired and he never once knocked down
my thoughts and ideas. He encouraged them, if anything.
B&TEOA: I understand director / writer
"Savage" Steve Holland was the original man who came up with the idea
on how to turn the film into a series. Then Darren Starr was brought on,
in part because of his name recognition. In your opinion what part did
these two men have in the development of the series and what were their
ER: Savage wrote a great pilot episode for the series. It
was condensed into a 20 minute presentation. Unfortunately, we never
filmed the entire script. He worked on the pilot episode and was a
consultant for subsequent episodes. Heís a great, humorous creative
individual who Iíd still like to substantially work with on another project
one of these days.
Darren Starr was busy with "Beverly Hills 90210," and
within a few years would soon be creating "Sex and the City." He
wasnít present on the set. Also, as far as I can remember, he didnít
write the episodes. I did speak to him a few times and he stated that I
could call upon him whenever I had the need. I also think heís a
talented writer, a nice man and would like to collaborate with him in the near
B&TEOA: What was your favorite episode
to film? What was your favorite episode overall (if different than your
favorite one to film)?
ER: The one episode that got the most drubbing, the one about
Albert Einstein, was a favorite to film. The experience was great because
of actor Arte Johnson who played Albert. We laughed constantly on the set
and because of his show biz history, it was great to hear the stories from his
The "Elvis" episode was a lot of fun. I also
enjoyed the episode where Bill and Ted become enemies. It was a blast
playing two versions of yourself in the same episode.
B&TEOA: The series only lasted for
seven episodes (not counting the unaired pilot). What factors do you think
contributed to the series not becoming more of a success?
ER: The ratings at the time were actually not that bad. We
needed to be able to grow creatively and if anything we needed a larger order of
episodes to do that. S even is barely scratching the surface. We had many
more exciting ideas to bring to the show. Perhaps we would have been able
to have Alex and or Keanu to be a part of it. I would have totally
There was discussion on the production side that if Fox didnít
pick up the show for another season the producer wanted to take the show to the
cable network Nickelodeon. In hindsight, that would have been a great
move, only because network television doesnít give as much of a chance to
their premiering shows than cable stations. Understandably, they have more
to risk and lose, namely their sponsors. We could have also gone into
syndication. Most orders for new syndicated shows are something crazy like
50 episodes. That would have been great.
The reason the television version of "Weird Science"
did well was because it was on cable and had that large episode order advantage
that Iím talking about.
Donít forget, other John Hughes movie to television series
like "Ferris Bueller" and "Uncle Buck" were on network
broadcast. Once again, they had short lived lives like our show.
We should have all been on cable!
B&TEOA: You also did the voice of Bill
for the Fox animated series "Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventures"
with Chris Kennedy. Were these done prior to the filming of the series or
afterwards? What was it like doing that voice work and do you have any
opinions about how the episodes turned out?
ER: They asked us to do the cartoon after we shot the seven
episodes. It was a fun, easy-going experience. Also a chance for us
to continue playing characters we enjoyed.
I thought they got even more surreal and experimental than the
live action series or movies. Which wasnít a bad thing, indeed.
You canít really screw up the characters of Bill and
Ted. Itís just a matter of continually finding the magic and chemistry
that was created in the first film.
Mike Meyers knew that when he did "Wayneís
World." I love Mike. Think heís a comedic genius. But
heís only done one sequel to his Wayne and Garth creation.
Itís a tough challenge to keep the momentum going. But
there have always been great teams or partners in the entertainment
industry. That tradition will definitely continue. But itís nice
to know that added to that pantheon is Bill and Ted. And I feel honored to
be able to portray one half of that classic duo.
B&TEOA: Did you ever have the
opportunity to speak with Alex Winter about your work on the series? Did
Chris likewise ever have any opportunity to discuss his work with Keanu Reeves?
ER: Spoke to Alex after he dogged us on the Arsenio Hall
show. I confronted him about his negative statements regarding the
series. He was a gentleman about it and explained that he was hurt that he
wasnít asked to participate in the series. I told him that if I had
known about his inquiries, I would have pushed to include his involvement.
Weíve talked to each other off and on through the years, and Iíve seen his
films like "Freaked" and "Fever." I think heís a
talented man, as well.
B&TEOA: Are you still in touch with
Chris Kennedy? If so, how is he doing? Did you remain friends?
ER: Havenít spoken to Chris in many years. I saw him on
various television shows. I wish him the best, though. "Hi Chris, if
youíre reading this."
B&TEOA: You played a teenage
videographer in the film "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" and youíre
now a writer / director of film in real life. Was that role at all
inspirational in the direction your career has taken or was that just a happy
ER: Happy coincidence. Iíve been doing my
"thing" since I was in elementary school. Perhaps even before
that. Writing, directing, acting in my own school plays. Then making
short silly video films with friends. Then graduating to the bigger
accomplishments. I love movies! I love to watch them and I love to
make them. Itís part of my DNA. It just is. Iím the
happiest when Iím working. Itís because I have a lot of creative
energy and ideas and itís a thrill to see them come alive.
B&TEOA: What is your fondest memory
from the making of "Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventures?"
ER: Thatís hard to say. Not because there werenít
any. There were. But the whole Bill and Ted experience was just
that. It was great to audition for it. Get the part. Go to
Canada where Iíve never been and film it. The friends I made. I
can look back in retrospect at the whole picture with a fondness.
Sure, there was disappointment by the ultimate outcome, but not
by the work that was done.
The series exists now. For the fans, for prosperity and
Nothing ever dies. The rule of the world is to
recycle. I can easily see a studio doing another version of Bill and Ted
years from now. Like the Batman franchise. Or the Brady Bunch!
The legacy of that show will never end. Not in a million, trillion
years. See, when something works and itís that good, and thereís more
money to be made from it, and fresh ways to approach it, then it will be
revived. So that said, long live Bill and Ted.
Perhaps Bill and Ted will finally get on cable if some channel
decides to rerun our series. A marathon of all 7 episodes!
B&TEOA: What projects of yours can we
look for now and in the near future?
ER: Iím writing / directing my own film projects.
Currently I have a short film on HBO / Cinemax. Itís called Cloud
Nine. I wrote and starred in it. Itís a quirky comedy that also
screened at many high profiled film festivals, and was nominated for a Skyy
Vodka Short Film Award.
The most recent short film is called Woman X. I wrote and
directed it. It was shot on location in London. Itís a
psychological drama. Itís been the official selection for close to 20
international film festivals and was award the Best Original Dramatic Short Film
Award (Bronze) at WorldFest Houston. It continues to play the festival
circuit throughout the year.
My next projects are two feature films that I wrote. One I
will direct. The other will be directed by Nicole Bettauer, who directed
The one Iíll direct is a drama. The one Nicole will
direct is a teen flick.
As for acting, Cloud Nine is the most recent project.
Many thanks again to Evan for taking the time to answer
You can now visit his official website by clicking here!