Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter Recall ‘Bill & Ted’ Audition: Why ‘It Was Meant to Be’

The chemistry between friends and Bill & Ted movie co-stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter was evident from their very first meeting, when both auditioned for the first film in the franchise. Reeves and Winter shared how rigorous the casting process was, with Reeves noting how “it was meant to be” from the start.

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

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter had quite a casting process to endure

During a Dec. 2 interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Reeves and Winter recalled how they hit it off when they first met while auditioning for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

The two both rode motorcycles to the audition and, helmets in hand, had an instant connection over their shared love of bikes.

The process for casting the film, it turns out, was quite a big deal, as Winter noted, “We became friends over the arduous Bill & Ted audition gauntlet” that “went on for months and months.”

Reeves explained how it was a bit different of an audition process, in that the casting people would pair up different combinations of actors to see who would best fit the roles. The two had some fun during auditions and, Winter revealed, they really nailed the characters right from the start, even channeling the characters’ fashion sense without even realizing it.

It turns out, Winter had a shirt tied around his waist and Reeves wore shorts to the audition.

Reeves and Winter were destined for the roles, with Reeves confirming, “It was meant to be.”

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Keanu Reeves learned to play some interesting instruments

In preparing for Bill & Ted Face the Music, Reeves felt it was important to learn how to play a variety of instruments. His knowledge, however, is limited.

Reeves played the bagpipes and theremin, as well as trumpet and percussion instruments, and wanted it to appear legit, so learned the tiniest bit about playing them.

“Keanu actually learned every instrument he played, including the bagpipes, which was hilarious to watch,” Winter explained. Reeves clarified that he “could play one note on all of these instruments.” Hey, that counts!

‘Bill & Ted’ were pop culture icons

The popularity of Bill & Ted was evident in the pop culture tie-ins of the time, including action figures, a cartoon, a video game, and a breakfast cereal.

Fallon floored his guests by bringing out a box of Bill & Ted cinnamon cereal, which they begged the talk show host not to eat because it’s now ancient.

Winter recalled that they were never told about the branded products and he quite literally stumbled upon the cereal when visiting a nearby grocery store at the time at 1 a.m.

They fondly recalled working with George Carlin

Fallon was interested in finding out more about Reeves and Winter’s experience of working with the legendary George Carlin and they couldn’t have praised the comedian more.

“For both of us, it was such an honor,” Reeves said. “We were such huge fans of his and familiar with his work and though he gave us that look, he was acting.”

Winter added, “He was a much gentler person than you would expect from the kind of razor nature of his stand-up … we were pretty star-struck, I think, and grateful that he was as sweet to us as he was. He was a gentle guy … he was always very lovely.”