“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” was a different kind of teen movie than the ones we were getting in the late ’80s. As Alex Winter said of the audition:
“What struck me at the time was the language; it was very distinct for what was presented as a teen comedy. It wasn’t like other teen comedies — god knows you’d audition for a tonne of those. If it wasn’t a John Hughes movie it was a knock-off John Hughes movie and the language was always the same: teens acting like 40-year-olds in therapy. [Bill and Ted] were very childlike and spoke in this ornate way. That stood out. It was more fun.”
No ragging on John Hughes movies from me (outside of the fact that they’re dated), but this was definitely different than what we were seeing at the time. Hughes took teens seriously and gave them a real voice for the first time, but “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” let them just be goofy kids. It was the other side of the coin. Winter said the audition was an “exhaustive process” and that he and Keanu Reeves became fast friends with so much in common. “We could have been friends whether we got the part or not.” Stephen Herek echoed that, saying that the guys would have lunch together and generally hang out, and “that’s how I wanted to portray [Bill and Ted] on screen. That clinched it for me.”
The chemistry is palpable on screen, and Herek said that the casting depended on it.