One of the more refreshing things about time travel cult hit Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is how unrelentingly upbeat it is. Sure, getting threatened with military school sucks, and history is full of smelly, frequently violent weirdos, but there’s no problem—in the movie’s cheerful slacker universe, anyway—that can’t be solved through the help of time travel, George Carlin, and a hearty “San Dimas High School football rules!”
That almost wasn’t the case, though, as revealed in a new Entertainment Weekly interview with the film’s stars, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, and screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. The first drafts for the film were apparently a lot darker than what we eventually got, with Bill S. Preston and Theodore Logan not only not destined to bring about a perfect utopia with the music of Wyld Stallyns, but inadvertently causing many of history’s most deadly moments, including the Civil War, World War I, and the sinking of the Titanic. (Also, Hitler was apparently somewhere in the mix.) We almost didn’t even get the scene of the duo’s triumphant final presentation; instead of an auditorium-based stage show featuring some of history’s greatest minds, the film originally ended, in Winter’s words, with the pair just bringing “the historical figures back to our classroom. And Keanu just sat on the desk, and watched them kind of talk about who they were. Then we’d go to the prom, and that’s the end. Even while we were shooting it, we were kind of depressed.”
Luckily, less heinous instincts won out, and the film concluded on a much more cheerful note. The interview—part of EW’s “Untold Stories” series—also touches on the film’s significantly stranger sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Solomon and Matheson, who were apparently writing and rewriting the movie well into shooting, revealed that, at one point, Moses was going to show up, parting a sea of traffic. Also, Bogus Journey’s weirdest character—Martian supergenius Station—apparently got his name from an improperly deleted location description (Interior–Police Station), which makes as much sense as anything else about that guy.
The piece ends with a promise that the four guys are still working on Bill & Ted 3, as they’ve been dutifully saying they are for the last several years.