'Bill & Ted Face The Music' Is Like A Sci-Fi Twist On 'A Christmas Carol,' With Bill And Ted Visiting Alternate Versions Of Themselves [Comic-Con 2020]

It took more than a few supernatural forces to bring Bill and Ted back to our screens. Nearly 30 years after Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, the third Bill and Ted film will reunite Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as everyone's favorite bodacious dudes. In Bill & Ted Face the Music, Winter's Bill and Reeves' Ted are middle-aged dads who must save reality with the help of their lookalike daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine, respectively).

Reeves, Winter, Weaving, Lundy-Paine, and Death himself William Sadler united with director Dean Parisot alongside writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson for a truly excellent virtual Comic-Con panel moderated by filmmaker and fan Kevin Smith to discuss how Bill & Ted Face the Music came to be, and what it was like for Weaving to act opposite the man who killed her uncle (Hugo Weaving, in the Matrix movies).

It would take a lot for the team to reunite to make a third Bill and Ted film. Though the first two films came together in quick succession (though things were touch and go for Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, whose absurd premise of "killing Bill and Ted" and sending them to Hell was rejected by studios until Winter and Reeves signed on, Solomon revealed), Bill & Ted Face the Music was only discussed at relaxed dinner parties as a fanciful idea before it became a reality. Winter revealed that it was at a dinner with Reeves, Solomon, and Matheson that the writers "laid out" the idea of a "summer-y version of Charles Dickens," in which Bill and Ted would visit different versions of their lives in the style of A Christmas Carol:

"It was some years ago, at least 10 years ago, we were all having dinner with Chris and Ed and they posed quite similarly a good idea as the Bill and Ted go to hell idea. And they laid out this very summer-y version of Charles Dickens, of going back to each version of your life. None of us even thought of embarking on a journey to do a third...unless it was really great and we could somehow hold onto the magic of the creativity well enough that it maintained the integrity of the initial idea."

It would take another six or seven years before the script would come together and director Dean Parisot would come on board, bringing the iconic characters to the 21st century and giving them daughters that were similar to Bill and Ted, though "it was important that they both didn't feel like knock-offs," Winter said. But the casting process was one of the easiest parts, Parisot said.

"It's very hard to come back after 30 years," Parisot said. "So all of that was part of the puzzle of putting it together. But to contemporize it and to bring these characters back at middle age, and to find their daughters, which by the way during that casting succession, it was no question... It's to their credit, they became their daughters. The added surprise was that they actually looked like they could be their daughters."

It was ironic, then, that neither Weaving nor Lundy-Paine had seen either Bill and Ted movie before auditioning — Lundy-Paine in particular only listened to a "two-second clip of their voices before going in and acting as goofy as I could." Weaving, at least, had a fiancé who was a major Bill and Ted fan, doing an impression of the two characters and making her watch the two films immediately. "I remember getting an email about the audition and going, 'What's Bill and Ted?' and my fiancé leapt off the couch and started doing a bizarre surfer voice," Weaving said.

For their performances, they tried to study Reeves and Winter in person, imitating physical quirks but making sure to put their own spins on the parts. They're "different but the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Weaving said. (Though it was odd for Weaving to see Reeves as this character, as "Hugo [Weaving] and Keanu worked together too, so that was a weird connection," Weaving said. "Like, you killed my uncle" leading moderator Smith to freak out with the realization that Weaving was related to Reeves' The Matrix costar.) As much as Bill and Ted were naive and dumb, Lundy-Paine's Billie and Weaving's Thea were "young musical savants" and geniuses.

Other things we learned from the panel: George Carlin's Rufus makes a short posthumous cameo, Smith revealed. And "the script was a lot more physical than the first two, especially for Keanu and myself," Winter said. "About halfway, we're shooting one of the versions of ourselves, I remember we got into these rocker characters and we just went off. And I remember looking at him, and him looking at me, and thinking Bill and Ted are back."

As for Reeves, he was just happy to be back with the team that created Bill and Ted nearly three decades ago. "I can't feel, or laugh, or do anything like the way that working on Bill and Ted does, and working with Alex," Reeves said. "That doesn't exist anywhere else in the world for me. To partner up and work on the craft side, and then get to play."

Bill & Ted Face the Music will be released in theaters and on video on demand on September 1, 2020. See the full Bill & Ted Face the Music panel below.