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Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a surprise breakout in 1989. The tale of two time-traveling slackers sparked a phenomenon. An animated series soon followed, and then a big-screen 1991 sequel cemented its franchise potential. However, time went on without a third Bill and Ted movie.

Stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter followed very different paths. The former became the bankable action star who gave us Speed, The Matrix, and John Wick. The latter shifted behind the scenes as a writer and director of film and television.

Yet, nearly three decades later, the Bill and Ted franchise is back in business. Bill and Ted Face the Music arrives in theaters on August 21, 2020. Now co-star William Sadler opens up about what it was like returning to the series so long after Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and William Sadler at the 'Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey' premiere
Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and William Sadler at the ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’ premiere | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

‘Bill and Ted Face the Music’ ends the trilogy nearly 30 years later

Picking up with middle-aged Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Reeves), the new movie finds the duo tasked with writing a world-saving song. Bill and Ted Face the Music has been in development for more than a decade. Thankfully, fans should be relieved to know the film is worth the wait, according to Sadler.

“For years, I kept hearing from Alex [Winter] and one of the co-writers, Ed Solomon. They kept telling me that [a reboot] was coming and letting me know what stage the script was at,” the actor told NME. “The spirit of the original movies is all there.”

Bill and Ted Face the Music should feel consistent, after all, because its writers, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, also scripted the previous films. Sadler also confirmed the new movie “beautifully” addresses the real-life death of series regular George Carlin.

William Sadler is back as Bill and Ted’s unlikely ally, the Grim Reaper

Sadler debuted in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey as none other than Death himself. But despite only appearing in the sequel, the Grim Reaper has remained one of the series’ most popular supporting players. For Sadler, coming back was an incredibly easy decision, he told NME.

I don’t know if you could tell from watching Bogus Journey, but it was such a giggle to get to put on that Czechoslovakian accent and just be silly. I don’t get a chance to be genuinely silly very often, so it didn’t take any convincing to bring me back.

But once the cameras were rolling, the actor noted how quickly the character came back to him. Perhaps this is a testament to his acting skills, which have improved since the last time Sadler played in the Bill and Ted world. In fact, he considers his more relaxed approach to acting a benefit of the epic wait for Bill and Ted Face the Music.

“I’m not sure I understand the character any better, but I think I’m much sillier now than I was then and take things more in my stride. I’m a freer, better actor now so it was great to get back into the role with 30 years more experience under my belt.”

The long-awaited ‘Bill and Ted 3’ couldn’t come out at a better time

Sadler and his co-stars have certainly gained decades more experience in the business. So it stands to reason this would impact the level of performance captured on screen. But the timing behind Bill and Ted Face the Music might actually be fortuitous in an entirely different way.

Right now, Reeves’ career is running hot thanks to his 2019 roles in John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Toy Story 4, and Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe. Fans even have “Keanu Day” to look forward to in May 2021, with fourth entries in both The Matrix and John Wick series hitting theaters the same day.

Add in the current white-hot Reeves love with a leaning toward nostalgia that might be more prominent than ever. With that going for it, Bill and Ted Face the Music could wind up being the late-summer breakout hit the industry never sees coming.