‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Writers Almost Put a Digital George Carlin in the Sequel — What They Did Instead

George Carlin was in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey. He played Rufus, the man from the future who brought Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) the time-traveling phone booth to help pass their history test. Sadly, Carlin passed away in 2008, before Bill & Ted Face the Music was even an idea.

George Carlin
George Carlin | Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson originally had an idea that would have allowed Carlin to appear posthumously in Bill & Ted Face the Music. In the end, they decided Rufus’s daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) and wife (Holland Taylor) would represent the future. We’ll have more on Bill & Ted Face the Music on Showbiz Cheat Sheet when the film opens Aug. 28 but first, here’s how they handled Carlin in the sequel.

Keanu Reeves remembers George Carlin in ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’

Reeves was asked about Carlin in a Zoom press conference for Bill & Ted Face the Music. He remembered working with Carlin on the first two films.

“It brought class,” Reeves said. “He was just such a really just not humble but down to earth and worked really hard on Rufus. He brought a weight to it. Of course it’s George Carlin coming from the future. It was really extraordinary to have a chance to work with such an incredible person and artist.”

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ almost revisited this famous scene 

Screenwriter Ed Solomon, who cowrote the three Bill & Ted films with Chris Matheson, told Showbiz Cheat Sheet they considered sending Bill and Ted back to 1989.

“Initially, we wanted to do a scene where Bill and Ted return to the Circle K in a quest to find out where did we go wrong?” Solomon said. “They go see themselves at the Circle K and they see the moment where their other selves land and there’s two sets of Bill and Teds. Now there’s three, there’s old Bill and Ted and then there’s Rufus.”

That idea didn’t work for technical and ethical reasons. 

George Carlin in Bill & Ted
Left: L-R: Keanu Reeves, George Carlin, and Alex Winter Right: L-R: Alex Winter, Dan Shor and Keanu Reeves | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“We had an interaction with Rufus there but we didn’t have the money to do it right,” Solomon said. “Even if we did have the money, it would have required all this manipulation of the images and manipulation of George, and that started to feel wrong to us. So we got rid of that scene.”

George Carlin’s presence is still in the sequel

Schaal’s character especially pays homage to the real life Carlin. 

“We began to realize this movie’s about fathers and daughters in a certain way,” Solomon said. “It’s about family but the theme is parents, children, what if it’s Rufus’ daughter who is the emissary from the future? George Carlin’s real life daughter’s name is Kelly who is a good friend of ours. So we named the character Kelly in honor of George. It came about in that trajectory.”

Bill & Ted Face the Music behind the scenes
L-R: Anthony Carrigan, Ed Solomon and direector Dean Parisot | Patti Perret/Orion Pictures

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Winter liked the idea too.

“Rather than to make up some incredibly elaborate scheme for why he’s not around, why don’t you just deal with mortality which the film deals with?” Winter said. “Addressing Rufus as someone who had just passed on in his own timeline allowed the guys to write these really great juicy character dynamics between his daughter Kelly and her mother. Bill and Ted have to wrap their heads around Rufus’s mortality. Of course, he would die just like anyone else would.”

Casting Taylor and Schaal helped too, producer Scott Kroopf said.

“You look at her and you go yeah, she would’ve been married to Rufus for sure,” Kroopf said. “Having Kristen who has this real admiration for her father. Her character is so grounded in her introduction that when she lets it rip comedically, it’s really fun and unexpected yet you feel like you know her as a character.”