BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT
Bill Preston and Ted Logan
have spent so much time forming a rock band (this week’s name: Wyld Stallyns)
that they’re flunking history.
That’s a problem not only
for the high school "dudes" from San Dimas, California, but for the
power structure of a future society. Bill and Ted have a role to play in
the cosmic scheme of things. But unless they pass the course by pulling
off a pip of a class presentation, their "excellent friendship" will
Enter Rufus, a super-cool
hipster from the 17th century who tours the chronos in a telephone
booth, guided by millennia of Yellow Pages. He has come to send Bill and
Ted on a roller-coaster ride – hopefully an "A" ride – through the
circuits of time to pick up some pointers from "personages of historical
The time-warped homework
works. Not only do Bill and Ted bring the past back to life, they bring it
back to San Dimas, California.
"Bill & Ted’s
Excellent Adventure" is a Nelson Entertainment Presentation of an Orion
Pictures release of an Interscope Communications Production in Association with
Soisson / Murphey Productions. The comedy-fantasy stars Keanu Reeves, Alex
Winter and George Carlin as Rufus.
Directed by Stephen Herek,
"Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure" was produced by Scott Kroopf,
Michael S. Murphey and Joel Soisson, from a screenplay by Chris Matheson &
Ed Solomon. Ted Field and Robert W. Cort are executive producers and
Stephen Deutsch is co-executive producer.
Like Bill and Ted’s
adventure itself, the film begins with a campus friendship. Screenwriters
Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon conceived the characters during a class in
improvisation at UCLA.
characters just wouldn’t go away. We were haunted by them," says
Matheson whose literary lineage includes acclaimed science-fiction author
Richard Matheson (his father) and screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson (an
Solomon, a former stand-up
comedian who is currently executive story editor of "It’s Garry Shandling’s
Show," recalls that "as we wrote the script, we never doubted that the
movie would get made. But jumping through history, we felt sympathy for
the director and production designer. Time travel is a challenge to the
imagination – and the budget."
Those flights of fantasy whisk
the would-be "Wyld Stallyns" to such pivot points in mankind’s
progress as ancient Greece, medieval England and the White House at the height
of the Civil War.
Along the way they encounter
the "bodacious philosopher" Socrates; Genghis Khan ("a very
excellent barbarian"); Joan of Arc ("Noah’s wife"); Napoleon
("the short, dead dude"); Ludwig van Beethoven (the Van Halen of his
time); Abraham Lincoln ("the dude on the penny"); Billy the Kid; Dr.
Sigmund Freud; and a pair of piquant princesses in Plantaganet peril.
But even a cram course from
such superlative tutors isn’t enough for a pair of students who’ve been
rocking and lolling through the whole semester. Bill and Ted ferry their
mentors back through the fourth dimension for a quick look at life in our time,
courtesy of a San Dimas shopping mall, prior to their crunch presentation.
Thus it is that Napoleon meets
his Waterloo on a water slide; Lincoln forswears four-scoring; Joan of Arc
proves her mettle; Beethoven takes up heavy metal; and a sporting-goods store
feels the wrath of Khan.
From the moment they were cast
as Bill and Ted, respectively, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves began "hanging
out together." Since the aspiring rock stars are portrayed as
lifelong friends, "we wanted to pick up on that emotional shorthand that
happens when two people really know each other well," says Reeves.
"Ted’s the dreamer, the
child in the woods. Bill’s the mastermind whose brainstorms get them in
and out of trouble. But they’re so connected that if you ask them a
question, you’ll get the same answer from either one, even if it’s
(Typical: "Who was
Caesar?" Answer: "The dude who invented salad dressing.")
There’s a part of Bill and
Ted in almost everyone," adds Winter who has harnessed his own
"over-active imagination" into making offbeat comedies between acting
assignments. (He describes "Squeal of Death," a two-year project
which he directed at New York University, as a "cross between Akiro
Kurosawa and Tex Avery.")
Reeves, who was born in
Beirut, Lebanon, and was raised in such far-flung climes as Hawaii, New York and
Ontario, Canada, admits that, like his character, he was an academic dawdler who
spent more time in Toronto’s ultra-modern subway system than he did in high
school. "Then I started acting," he recalls, "and my
interest in school – and almost everything else – heated up."
By the same token, says
Winter, "Bill and Ted aren’t as backward as their grades suggest.
They just need an incentive, a quick kick in the cosmos."
That well-aimed boot through
the time-space continuum is provided by George Carlin as Rufus, the mysterious
courier from the 27th century whose telephone booth and wit are
equally time-warped. "Rufus is very highly evolved," explains
Carlin. "He’s the embodiment of 700 years of elapsed rock-and-roll
cool. He’s a pretty hip dresser, even for the 27th
century. And he appreciates that since history is where it’s at, or at
least where it was, it’s never boring."
The same applies to evoking
the past. The film’s supporting players researched their roles in depth
to twirl the fun around a core of fact. Some admittedly had a head
start. Robert V. Barron has toured the country in a one-man show as Abe
Lincoln, and has played the sixteenth president in everything from docu-dramas
to rock videos. (This was, however, the first time he was called on to
conclude the Gettysburg Address with the immortal words, "Party on,
While Al Leong grew up in St.
Louis, the film’s Genghis Khan is among the world’s leading "lion
dancers" (an ancient Chinese ritual involving caped, masked performers) who
enjoys a rich knowledge of his ancestry.
Tony Steedman, an alumnus of
the Royal Shakespeare Company who has played Charles Darwin, Dr. Samuel Johnson
and the Bard’s Anthony, was unfazed by Socrates. "There aren’t
many people who can question my interpretation," he points out.
For such behind-the-scenes
collaborators as production designer Roy Forge Smith, costume designer Jill
Ohanneson and makeup designers Daniel Marc and Patti Brand, the challenge was
multiplied. Ohanneson was called on to style Roman togas, Napoleonic
uniforms, western regalia and the proper attire for a Mongolian warlord, back
from a hard day of looting and pillaging, frequently in the same time span.
"It was like working on a
dozen different Cecil B. DeMille epics at once," says director Stephen
Herek. "But the characters had to be believable before they could
Herek, who worked for Roger
Corman as an editor and then made his directing bow with "Critters,"
filmed "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure" largely in Phoenix,
Arizona, then moved on to Rome for two weeks’ work amidst castles and
The balmy Phoenix weather was
a blessing for Terry Camilleri who plays Napoleon and who, for reasons that make
perfectly good sense in the script, is attracted to a modern aquatic theme
park. For several days, he slid down slick, churning water slides, dashing
ahead of less compulsive customers.
("It figures," said
Rod Loomis who plays Sigmund Freud. "He has a Napoleonic
Many of the city’s landmarks
serves as film sites, including the famous western town standing in the saguaro
cactus-studded desert near the Carefree Studios and the gleaming new Phoenix
Metrocenter. It is there in the sprawling mall that Joan of Arc hears
voices that tell her to sign up for aerobics, Beethoven swipes a synthesizer,
Genghis Khan takes batting practice and the time-travelers are hauled off to the
hoosegow, despite the philosophic pleas of Socrates.
The only studio sequence took
place at the Carefree Studios, where a gleaming futuristic dome was
constructed. Here "The Three Most Important People in the World"
(portrayed by rock stars Clarence Clemons, Martha Davis and Fee Waybill)
dispatch Rufus on his historic mission. Putting personal comfort aside,
the trio spent several hours daily suspended from an elaborate system of pulleys
A huge, sophisticated crane
was also constructed to hoist the "flying" phone booth and its
inhabitants, then set it gently down in such incongruous locales as a
convenience-store parking lot.
As wondrous as it is, the
telephonic time machine still contains one modern hang-up. When Bill and
Ted are trapped by axe-wielding guards during the reign of Richard II, they dash
for the phone booth to try to dial a way out of the mess. But all they
hear, echoing through the endless corridors of time, is a recorded voice which
informs them: "The number you have dialed is not in service. Please
check your directory and dial again."
About the Cast . . .
Ted, the eternal optimist of
the team, who logically observes that their rock band will improve when they
have triumphant tee-shirts – and learn to play musical instruments – is
portrayed by KEANU REEVES.
Like his character, Reeves has
done a bit of traveling. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, to globetrotting
parents, he grew up in Hawaii, New York and Canada before settling down in the
California beach town of Venice.
It was during his Toronto,
Ontario, period that Reeves began his acting career. Just 16 at the time,
he was cast in the Canadian television series, "Hanging In."
Enrolling for studies with drama coach Jasper Deeter (a founding member of the
Provincetown Players), Reeves continued to polish his craft with performances on
Canadian stages as well.
American audiences first saw
him in the television films "Under the Influence," "Babes in
Toyland" and HBO’s "Act of Vengeance." Since his motion
picture debut opposite Rob Lowe in the 1986 ice-hockey drama,
"Youngblood," Reeves has appeared in "The Night Before,"
"I Wish I Were Eighteen Again," and the controversial "River’s
Edge," for which he is perhaps best known.
To Bill Preston, friendship is
everything. And when his best pal, Ted, is threatened with exile to
military school, no solution is too "unprecedented." If that
means wandering through the time-space continuum "collecting speakers for
an oral report," his only question is . . . who can they "bag?"
who plays the role, has been acting since he was seven. By 14 he was
co-starring on Broadway, and at 21 was a graduate of the film school at New York
Born in London to a pair of
professional dancers, Winter moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri, where
he spent his childhood on the stages of local community theatres.
Relocating to New York, he starred with Yul Brynner and Constance Towers in a
hit revival of "The King and I," then toured with the show. He
returned to Manhattan for a Broadway production of "Peter Pan," and
stayed to appear off Broadway as well.
After completing his studies
at NYU, where his senior project was a short comedy film entitled "Squeal
of Death" – which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in – Winter
moved to Los Angeles to begin his motion picture career.
Following his screen bow in
"Death Wish III," he was among the adolescent vampires of the
supernatural hit, "The Lost Boys," then co-starred with Eric Stoltz
and Laura Dern in "Haunted Summer."
When the ultra-hip Rufus
suddenly appears in a phone booth to send the wayward students thought the
circuits of time, it comes as no surprise that he is a citizen of the 27th
century. There are those who insist GEORGE
CARLIN, who portrays him, is
from somewhere beyond tomorrow as well.
Noted for the innovation and
daring of his insights, Carlin has staked out a special niche among today’s
comedians through 13 hit albums and string of top-rated TV specials.
Carlin also won acclaim for his performance in the hit film "Outrageous
A native New Yorker, he began
his career as a radio disc jockey with an ear for dialects and an eye for the
ludicrous. Segueing to nightclubs, he found his metier in live
As his popularity grew, so did
his cross-country concert schedule. He now averages over 100 one-man shows
a year. He has also guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live" and
enlivened Johnny Carson’s "Tonight Show."
Carlin made his screen bow in
"With Six You Get Eggroll" in 1966, then followed with "Car
Wash" ten years later.
"I guess I made only one
movie a decade because I couldn’t understand film performance," he
explains. "But now, thanks to acting classes and a personal calm
within myself, I feel much more at home on a sound stage. I’m planning
to explore this whole thing a lot more."
Ordering Rufus to explore
history with two totally untutored teenagers are the interplanetary rulers known
as the "Three Most Important People in the World." They are
played by CLARENCE CLEMONS,
MARTHA DAVIS and FEE
WAYBILL, three people of
import in contemporary music.
Clemons is known to millions
of rock fans as "The Big Man," the exuberant sax player who has toured
and recorded with best friend Bruce Springsteen for nearly two decades.
When not with the Boss, Clemons’ successful career has included the hit
"You’re a Friend of Mine," which he sang with Jackson Browne in his
debut album. Currently at work on a second LP, Clemons made his film bow
in "New York, New York."
Martha Davis began her singing
career in the late 1970s. With her own band, The Motels, she recorded
"Take the L," "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly, Last
Summer," all of which sold more than a million copies. Now a solo
artist, she is currently finishing a new album.
Waybill is best known as the
lead singer of the outrageous rock group, The Tubes. Infamous for his wild
stage antics, he initially made his mark with the hit "White Punks on
Dope" and then later with the songs "She’s a Beauty" and
"Don’t Touch Me There." He made his film debut in "Ladies
and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains . . . " and also appeared with The Tubes
Among a gallery of great men
and women transported from the past to the modern galleria are:
Abraham Lincoln, played by ROBERT
No stranger to portraying the
Great Emancipator, Barron has toured as Honest Abe in his own one-man
show. Beginning his career as a script writer, he spent eight years
working on television’s "Bonanza," then moved into acting with
"Amazing Stories," "Night Court" and "No Soap,
Radio." He has since appeared in the films "Mrs. Soffel,"
"The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai," "Honkeytonk Man,"
"Eating Raoul" and "Frances." He is currently the
executive director of talent and development for Saban Productions, which
specializes in animation.
Napoleon Boneparte, played by TERRY
A native of Australia, he is
fluent in five languages and has appeared in films, theatre and television in
several countries. Among his more recent films are "In the
Mood," "Dutch Treat," "Let’s Get Harry,"
"Superman III," "Back Roads," "The Cars That Ate
Paris" and "Money Moves." His many television credits
include "Hard Copy," "Hill Street Blues," "Heart of the
City" and the miniseries "The Immigrants."
Ludwig van Beethoven, played
by CLIFFORD DAVID.
Well-credentialed on stage and
screen, David has starred on Broadway in "1776," "On a Clear Day
You Can See Forever," "Camino Real" with Al Pacino,
"Caligula," "The Aspern Papers" and "Wildcat" with
Lucille Ball. He also appeared in Joseph Papp’s production of
"Hamlet" in Central Park and starred in many regional theatre
companies. His films include "Fort Apache, The Bronx,"
"Resurrection," "The Betsy" and "Agent on Ice,"
while TV viewers have seen him in "Blind Ambition," "Fear on
Trial," "Missiles of October" and "The Equalizer."
Genghis Khan, played by AL
Known as a top stuntman and
martial-arts expert, Leong has appeared in such films as "Lethal
Weapon," "The Golden Child," "She’s Having a Baby,"
"Steele Justice," "Big Trouble in Little China" and
"Running Scared." On television, Leong has guest-starred on
"Magnum, P.I.," "The Equalizer," "Spenser for
Hire" and "The A-Team." He is also adept at "lion
dancing," a form of street performance based on an ancient ritual in which
Leong and a partner are clad in massive, colorful masks and capes.
Dr. Sigmund Freud, played by ROD
After earning a master of fine
arts degree from Brandeis University, Loomis attended the American Academy of
Dramatic Arts, then toured with the national companies of "1776,"
"The Merry Widow," "The Sound of Music" and "Uncle
Vanya." His screen credits include "Body Double," "Beastmaster"
and "Man on a Swing." His many television appearances include
roles on "Dynasty," "Matt Houston," "General
Hospital" and "The Young and the Restless."
Billy the Kid, played by DAN
Educated at both Northwestern
University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Shor starred on
Broadway in "Equus," and has appeared in such films as "Stranger’s
Kiss," "Mike’s Murder," "Talk to Me," "Strange
Behavior," "Tron," "Back Roads" and "Wise
Blood." On television, he was Detective Newman, a regular on "Cagney
and Lacey," and has also been seen in the miniseries "The Blue and the
Gray," "Rumor of War," "Studs Lonigan" and
Socrates, played by TONY
A native of England, Steedman
has spent most of his career on stage with the Royal Shakespeare and Birmingham
Repertory companies, in shows ranging from "Hamlet" to
"Oklahoma." He has also amassed starring credits on the BBC
television dramas "Charles Darwin" and "Dr. Samuel Johnson,"
as well as the acclaimed series "Coronation Street," shown in America
on PBS. Other American television credits include "The Fall
Guy," "The A-Team" and "Crossings." "Bill
& Ted’s Excellent Adventure" marks his second film appearance
following "The Abdication."
Joan of Arc, played by JANE
Best known as a founding
member of the rock group, The GoGos, the guitarist and singer wrote many of the
renowned all-girl band’s hits on three chart-topping albums, "Beauty and
the Beat," "Vacation" and "Talk Show." After
leaving the group to pursue a solo career, she scored a hit single with
"Blue Kiss" from her debut album, "Jane Wiedlin." Her
film career includes roles in "Clue," "Star Trek IV" and
princesses saved by Bill and Ted from a fate worse than feudalism are played by DIANE
FRANKLIN and KIMBERLEY
Franklin (Princess Joanna)
(SIC) began her film career at age 19 as the star of "The Last American
Virgin." Other feature credits include "Amityville II,"
"TerrorVision" and "Better Off Dead," while television
audiences have seen her in "Summer Girl," "Deadly Lessons"
and the series "Boone" and "Bay City Blues."
Kimberley La Belle (Princess
Elizabeth) (SIC) has appeared on television in "Hunter,"
"Riptide," "Stingray," "The A-Team" and "Days
of Our Lives." She has also co-starred with Martin Mull in Cinemax’s
"History of White People in America" and director Harry Shearer’s
comedy special starring Paul Schaffer, "Viva Shaf Vegas."
The instigator of Bill and Ted’s
excellent adventure is history teacher Mr. Ryan, played by BERNIE
Retired in 1968 from a
professional football career – in which he set receiving records for both the
San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams – Casey made his film debut in
"The Guns of the Magnificent Seven" and went on to appear in
"Boxcar Bertha," "Cleopatra Jones," "Black Gun,"
"The Man Who Fell to Earth," "Sharkey’s Machine" and
"Never Say Never Again." On television he’s been seen in
"Brian’s Song," "Roots," "The Martian
Chronicles," "Bay City Blues" and "Harris & Co.,"
television’s first black dramatic series. Casey is also an accomplished
About the Filmmakers . . .
director of "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure," began his motion
picture career as an editor for producer Roger Corman at New World
Pictures. After working on several films with Corman, he was given his
first chance to direct a feature film with "Critters," an innovative
science-fiction thriller. It was his deft control of that film – on a
relatively low budget – that impressed the "Bill & Ted"
"It’s certainly a
different world outside of the editing room," Herek says. "I now
have the luxury of shooting the angles and scenes I want instead of moaning over
what I was given to work with by someone else. It’s terrific. I’ve never
KROOPF began his
entertainment career far from the silver screen as a legitimate theatre
director, and later as a designer of exclusive nightclubs such as The Palace in
Hollywood. He entered the motion picture industry as a development
executive, and in 1982 he was named executive in charge of creative affairs for
Embassy Pictures. He remained with Embassy until 1985 when he joined
Interscope Communications, Inc., as vice president in charge of
production. He co-produced the hit comedy "Outrageous Fortune"
for Interscope before starting production of "Bill & Ted’s Excellent
MICHAEL S. MURPHEY
and JOEL SOISSON,
producers of "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure," first worked
together as executives in charge of production on independent features for Sandy
Howard’s Republic Entertainment International in 1983. For Howard, the
duo produced "Avenging Angel" and "The Boys Next
Door." Next they wrote and produced "Hambone and Hillie"
and "The Supernaturals," the produced the top-grossing thriller
"Nightmare on Elm Street II – Freddy’s Revenge," and produced and
wrote "Trick or Treat" before beginning work on "Bill & Ted’s
MATHESON and ED
SOLOMON both make their film
debuts with "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure." Outside of
the fact that the film is the first produced screenplay for both writers, the
two friends also appear on screen as two overzealous waiters who stuff Napoleon
full of American ice cream.
The pair met for the first
time on the UCLA campus, where economics student Solomon and theatre arts major
Matheson became involved in a campus improvisation group. It was through
this ensemble that the original Bill and Ted came to life.
Matheson hails from a
screenwriting family. His father, Richard, is a renowned science-fiction
author (among his credits: TV’s original "Twilight Zone" as well as
the films "Somewhere in Time" and "Jaws III"). His
older brother, Richard Christian, was recently represented by Universal’s
"3 O’Clock High." With several other film projects in
development, Matheson’s ultimate goal is to direct his own scripts.
Solomon began his writing
career at 21 when he joined the writing staff of the series "Laverne and
Shirley." He toured the country as a stand-up comic after leaving
UCLA and contributed material to many top comedians, including Garry Shandling.
His association with that performer led to his appointment as executive story
editor on Showtime’s highly-acclaimed series, "It’s Garry Shandling’s
Executive producer TED
FIELD is a Los Angeles
businessman with a wide range of business, political and philanthropic
interests. As the owner of Interscope Communications, Inc., he has been a
force in the company’s rapid success as a source of independent motion picture
and television entertainment. His companies are also involved in land
development, real estate investment and the manufacture and merchandising of
camera equipment (through the acquisition of Panavision, Inc.).
The second son of the late
Marshall Field IV, he grew up in Chicago and Alaska. After attending the
University of Chicago and Pomona College, he became a principal of Chicago-based
Field Enterprises, Inc., then moved ten years ago to the West Coast. Mr.
Field is a member of the Democratic National Committee and a respected
contributor to the arts, medical research and causes including legislative
Executive producer ROBERT
W. CORT has been President of
Interscope Communications, Inc., since 1985. During that period, he has
produced Interscope’s "Cocktail," "Three Men and a Baby"
and "Outrageous Fortune," all for Touchstone Pictures; "The
Seventh Sign" for Tri-Star; "Revenge of the Nerds, Part II: Nerds in
Paradise" for Twentieth Century Fox and "Critical Condition" for
He came to Interscope from
Twentieth Century Fox where, as Executive Vice President of Production, he
oversaw the creative development of such hits as "Romancing the
Stone," "Bachelor Party" and "All the Right Moves."
A graduate of the University
of Pennsylvania, Cort received a master’s degree in business administration
from the Wharton School. After serving with the CIA in Washington, he
became a management consultant in consumer marketing, then joined Columbia
Pictures where, in 1977, he was named Vice President of Advertising, Publicity
and Promotion. He subsequently served as Executive Vice President in
charge of Worldwide Advertising, Publicity and Promotion at Twentieth Century
Fox, prior to assuming a key production post at that studio.
to Box Office Results . . .