The 'Puppy Factor' Was Key To Alex Winter And Keanu Reeves' Roles In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

While younger audiences may associate Keanu Reeves first and foremost with the "John Wick" movies and, in general, for playing silent, serious badasses who know kung fu and are highly skilled at shooting people in the head, he is also a pretty great comedic actor. Be it with his role in "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run," where he plays a (literal) wise sage, or with his cameo as "himself" in "Always Be My Maybe," Reeves has continued to deliver his fair share of laughs in-between his outings as Mr. Wick.

Of course, Reeves' best and most well-known comedic role is undoubtedly that of Ted "Theodore" Logan in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and its sequels, one of the greatest sci-fi comedy trilogies there are, particularly sci-fi comedy trilogies involving time-travel. As silly as they are endearing, the "Bill & Ted" films are full to the brim with great caricatures of historical figures, zany side characters, comically bizarre imagery, and a phenomenal (not to mention unique) portrayal of time-travel.

The key to their success, however, is the eponymous duo. It would be one thing if William "Bill" S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted "Theodore" Logan were merely buffoons, but their naivety and innocence make you really want to root for the characters — something that the creatives behind "Excellent Adventure" figured out while working on the film.

'As soon as it was them, it was them'

Speaking to Little White Lies for the outlet's 2020 oral history of the making of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," director Stephen Herek cited the "puppy factor" as the key to Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves' performances in the film:

"It was unconditional love. They just have an excitement for life and an exuberance like puppies. We distilled direction down to 'This scene needs more puppy factor' and they got it immediately. It affected the way they moved, walked and turned their head. They clued into it quick."

It's that "puppy factor" that also makes the larger "Bill & Ted" trilogy work. Bill and Ted might be stereotypical surfer dudes with a rock band, but they're also two of the most innocent, well-natured guys you could meet. Gullible as they are, you believe the pair would end up marrying two actual princesses, beating Death at every kind of board game there is, and forming the band that will save humanity in the future.

Speaking to LWL, Ed Solomon admitted that he and his "Bill & Ted" franchise co-writer Chris Matheson initially pictured the dynamic duo as "spotty guys with rider jeans with their boxers sticking out, heavy metal t-shirts and long hair," but Reeves and Winter bought a "more winning and charming personality" to the characters. As a result, Bill and Ted gradually evolved into the very embodiments of positivity. "As soon as it was them, it was them. There was no looking back," Solomon added.