‘Bill and Ted’: The Legendary Sci-FI Writer Who Made the Keanu Reeves Classic Happen

The long-awaited Bill and Ted Face the Music finally came out Aug. 28. After waiting decades to see Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reunite, it’s almost hard to believe the sequel is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD. 

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter
L-R: Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter | Patti Perret/Orion Pictures

The Bill and Ted Face the Music Blu-ray also includes the movie’s San Diego Comic-Con at Home panel with the cast and creators. That Q&A reveals a famous science-fiction author had a hand in the original movie. 

One writer of ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ has a legendary father 

Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon wrote all three Bill and Ted movies together. When they were first creating it, they didn’t even think it would be a whole movie until Matheson’s dad stepped in.

“We were going to write a skit movie with a bunch of different skits, because we had a bunch of silly ideas,” Matheson said. “Bill and Ted were going to be one of the pieces. It was going to be an eight or ten minute piece. It was actually my dad, who was Richard Matheson who wrote I Am Legend and Shrinking Man, I sort of ran it by him and he said, ‘You can make a whole movie out of that.’ We started looking at it that way.”

Then they had to find Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter 

Once Matheson and Solomon wrote Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, they had to find their Bill and Ted. Reeves recalled how hard it was to land the role that would ultimately make him a megastar.

Available now | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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“We went through a very vigorous audition process,” Reeves said. “The first audition, I recall in the end there was about 10 artists and we would all kind of revolve [through the] door and sometimes play Bill and sometimes play Ted and interact with each other. There was actually a lunch. We started in the morning, had lunch and went to the end of the day.”

Before Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, Bill and Ted were an inside joke

The reason Matheson and Solomon originally saw Bill and Ted as a short in a sketch movie is that they originally came up with the characters as an improv exercise.

“It started in 1983,” Matheson said. “Ed and I did a little improv group with some friends, not for an audience, just to kind of play with characters and comedy. So the suggestion was two teenage boys studying history who don’t know anything about history. We just started playing these guys and liked them instantly. They struck us as really funny instantly. We just started playing them.”

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted Face the Music
L-R: Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves | Patti Perret / Orion Pictures

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Solomon said they only played Bill and Ted for an audience once at UCLA. Otherwise, Matheson said they just played them amongst themselves.

“We just played with them,” Matheson said. “We would talk on the phone as Bill & Ted, we would write letters back and forth as Bill & Ted, we just loved them. They were just really fun to be, long before we thought of putting them in a movie or anything like that. We just enjoyed them.”

Thanks to Richard Matheson, Keanu Reeves had this experience 

So, just think. If Chris Matheson hadn’t shown his sketch script to his father, Keanu Reeves might have never played Ted. Since he did, it became a calling card for fans. 

“People started yelling in the street,” Reeves said. “I know when I would be on the street sometimes people would just be like ‘Be excellent!’ and ‘Party on!’”