Our Exclusive 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 Land."

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 excited.

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 Clifton Campbell?

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 strongest contributions?

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 future.

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 theatrical past.

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 welcomed that.

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 coincidence?

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 for fun.

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 Cloud Nine.

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 our questions!
You can now visit his official website by clicking
here!