‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Is Actually William Sadler’s Third Appearance as Death

Death was a new character in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. After their time traveling Excellent Adventure, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) died went to Hell. They had to beat Death (William Sadler) at games to regain their lives. Death became part of their band, Wyld Stallyns. When Bill & Ted Face the Music, they need Death’s help again.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music.]

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

Sadler spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by Zoom about reprising his role as Death. By now, people have seen Bill & Ted Face the Music in select theaters or on VOD.

William Sadler never watched The Seventh Seal before ‘Bill & Ted’

The idea of Bill and Ted playing a game against Death comes from Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal. Max Von Sydow must beat Death at chess, so of course Bill and Ted play Battleship, Twister and other trivial games. 

Death and Max Von Sydow
L-R: Bengt Ekerot and Max v. Sydow in The Seventh Seal | Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

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“I think I had seen it somewhere back in college or something but no, I didn’t base him on [The Seventh Seal],” Sadler said. “Obviously the writers, when they chose to make him play those board games and all of that, they had watched The Seventh Seal and they wanted to make fun of that.”

William Sadler based Death on the Death he played before 

Before Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Sadler played Death in a sketch for Assaulted Nuts. You can see the sketch on YouTube.

“It’s the first time I play The Reaper,” Sadler said. “He comes to take this woman’s soul and she’s such a pain in the ass that he leaves. He doesn’t want any part of it and he goes away. I just grabbed this accent to play in this silly sketch and it was funny and it worked. So when the audition came along for Bogus Journey I used that accent too.”

That’s really William Sadler playing Twister in ‘Bogus Journey’

The Twister scene in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey looks like a special effect the way Sadler’s foot stretches to the right color. Sadler assures viewers it’s him, and you can see there’s no cut. 

“That’s actually my foot,” Sadler said. “I know in the film it looks like it’s got to be trick photography, somebody else’s foot goes past Alex’s face and then swings over. That’s my foot. It looks like that can’t be his leg. It’s me. I was super flexible then.”

William Sadler was game for another sequel

Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson started writing Bill & Ted Face the Music 10 years ago and Reeves and Winter were interested. It was 2017 when they checked in with Sadler. 

“About three years ago or so, Ed Solomon called me and said, ‘We’re writing a script. Are you still interested in playing Death?’” Sadler said. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Because we’d love to have you back. Here’s what we think has happened in the intervening years.’”

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

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The accent came right back, Sadler said. 

“That accent, I feel like I’ve been carrying him around in my pocket for all these years,” Sadler said. “He was just waiting to pop back out and when he popped out he was fully grown. Everything was the same. It was like there was no time passed at all.”

Unfortunately, he is not actually playing the bass in Wyld Stallyns.

“I played a lot of guitars,” Sadler said. “I’ve spent my whole life playing guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles. I’d never played a bass before when they handed me this bass. I was figuring out something that looked like I was playing but I wasn’t actually playing, no.”