The 1989 time travel comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure made Keanu Reeves a star and cemented the cry of "Excellent!" as a '90s pop culture staple. Talk of a third installment in the franchise, still known only as Bill & Ted 3, has persisted for years, with the original's co-star Alex Winters most recently speaking about the film's story, which would catch up with Bill and Ted in their forties.
Keanu Reeves is currently doing the press rounds for his upcoming hit man action-thriller, John Wick, and spoke with ComingSoon.net about several projects he has coming up, touched on the subject of Doctor Strange (more on that subject here) and went into detail about the current draft of Bill & Ted 3.
Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon wrote the original film and its 1991 sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and have returned to write the third film. When asked if the singular style and voice of the writers - particularly Solomon, known for his quirky touch in films like Men in Black - may be part of the reason Bill & Ted 3 has not yet moved into production, Reeves said:
We have to get the script in the right place. Chris and Ed have been working really hard over a couple of years to get the draft in the right place. What is the reason to make this movie besides nostalgia or the love of these characters. Where can they be in their life that can be a story that is worth telling or has something in it and is funny? They have that. It didn't help that the first script that they brought in was probably budgeted at $150 million dollars. I don't know if Bill & Ted carry that much weight. Part of the argument is that it's not that popular internationally, that's where so much of the funding for movies comes from these days. They've worked on the script and the budget, just trying to get the right script and then get the business side wrapped up, financiers and rights, all the show business stuff.
Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot was reportedly attached to helm Bill & Ted 3, but as the years went by and the film still hadn't been greenlit, the level of Parisot's continued involvement was unknown. When asked if the director was still attached, Reeves answered in the positive, saying:
Yeah, Dean's re-read it and I think he likes it. It's kind of like… I call it "gravity," you have to get this mass together to make it happen. In terms of the writers' voices being too peculiar, in this case no. I think they've really crafted something that's funny. [Bill and Ted have] been weighed down by the burden of having to save the world by the song, and they just can't write it. They're losing their wives and their children, they're losing their families.
Reeves elaborated on Bill and Ted's crisis - being so obsessed with writing the song they're supposed to be famous for - with more details, stating:
The future comes back and says if you don't write the song by this certain time the universe is going to unravel and history and everything is going to change and dinosaurs are gonna walk the Earth. Jesus is playing baseball! All sorts of weird things start unraveling and wormholes are twisting. We have to kind of bring order back, and it's connected into bringing our families together by writing a song.
Reeves responded to the observation that it would be ideal to bring these characters back without them being "homogenized" by saying:
No! I mean, it's edgy. There's a great scene where Bill and Ted are in jail and we're seeing our future [selves] and they're all tatted and hard. They're like, [tough sounding] "What's up, dude? Hey dude. Hey guy." "Stop calling me dude!" They want to beat up Bill and Ted because they've inherited the life that they f**ked up. They're miserable and they hate Bill and Ted. There's some funny stuff!
The ever-candid Reeves also lamented the roadblocks preventing forward progress on the acclaimed Black List script Passengers from Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts, citing "all that show business sh*t" as the main reason financial backing has yet to be found. The wait for Bill & Ted 3 is likely due to a commitment for getting the script right.
We've pointed out before that the notion of catching up with franchise characters like this in real time is not new (Clerks II, Dumb and Dumber To), but it sounds like the stars and writers are aiming for something deeper and more meaningful than the novelty of watching Reeves revisit his breakthrough role. Addressing the specter of unrealized ambitions could resonate for more than one generation of audiences, and just might make Bill & Ted 3 worth the wait.
Bill & Ted 3 is currently in development.