BILL AND TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY
A Starburst interview by Alan Jones
With a BAFTA award for Best Short Film tucked under his
arm, British born director Peter Hewitt flew off to California to promote
interest in his career.
His intention was to sell the idea of expanding his 30
minute short The Candy Show into a full length feature. What
exactly happened took the 29 year-old by surprise. For producer Scott
Kroopf saw the fast-paced special effects extravaganza, centered on one manís
addiction to television, amongst many sample directing reels. And out of
the blue Kroopf offered him the chance to helm the sequel to Orionís popular
cult movie Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure. Eighteen months
later Hewitt still canít quite believe it all happened. But Bill and
Tedís Bogus Journey is now on release proving it actually did! I
caught up with Hewitt just after the movie opened in America to mixed reviews,
but great box-office, to hear all about his Hollywood baptism by fire.
Landing Bill and Tedís Bogus Journey wasnít
quite the cut and dried affair the publicity machine would have you believe
though, noted Hewitt. "I was chosen from fifty other directors and I
did have to sell myself. I canít remember how many producers I ended up
seeing who were attached to the show. To begin with I didnít know who
was important and who wasnít or what was the purpose of each meeting.
Was it an important one or a lesser one? Because I had no idea I kept
pitching myself differently every time. Then they gave me the job.
To this day I donít know why. I think I never imagined theyíd consider
me so I decided to say exactly what I thought about their script ideas: what I
didnít like and would want to change as much as what I wanted left in to build
on. Perhaps they admired my honesty and the fact I wasnít scared to
speak my mind".
Once Hewitt was signed he refused to be daunted by the
prospect of directing a £20 million sequel. As he pointed out, "When
you boil it down every movie, even The Candy Show, is one camera, a set,
and a few people standing around. The logistics are always the same.
What I did do was meet each crew member one at a time to plan everything out to
the last detail during the six months of pre-production available. If you
become a family working towards the same goal, film-making is an easier
experience". Minutely planning out the "Medium scale"
production was essential according to Hewitt for another reason.
"Orion Pictures insisted on it being a Summer film Stateside, but we couldnít
start the ten week shoot until January 7, 1991 because Keanu Reeves was busy on My
Own Private Idaho. So we made sure everything was up to speed with
regards the creature effects, matte paintings, miniatures and opticals.
You name it, Bogus Journey had it and you canít attempt this kind of
special effects laden picture on the fly.
"The first script given to Hewitt was a lot
similar to Excellent Adventure he revealed, although he didnít see that
movie until heíd read the sequel screenplay. "Bill and Ted went to
Heaven and Hell bringing back from each place a bunch of historical figures to
help them build a real live Wild Stallyn to defeat their evil robot
doubles. That changed after my involvement to more or less what you see on
screen now. Before I came on board there was an idea knocking around where
Bill and Ted kidnap characters from famous novels to help them pass their
literature exams. I would not have been interested in that concept."
And what does Hewitt himself put Bill and Tedís
appeal down to? Why have they become such a beloved cult creation?
"Because they are true friends. We all have friendships where we are
so in tune with someone just a look or a raised eyebrow is the only
communication needed. Over and above that thereís the teen audience who
can relate directly because they speak and act like them. Where that doesnít
apply, like in Britain, audiences key into their lunatic Pythonesque
qualities. The one question Iím asked most is, ĎBeing.British, is it
difficult to understand these California surfing dudesí dialogue?í The
answer is no, of course. The only difference between Bill and Ted, as
opposed to other trendy fashions, is they say the words ĎExcellentí and ĎTriumphantí
instead of ĎGroovyí, ĎFabí or ĎGearí. Once youíve spent five
minutes getting into that speech mode, youíve got it, and you go along with
But did being British mean Hewitt could comment more on
such an American lifestyle? "You draw your own conclusions when I
tell you the first Bogus Journey cut was far darker than it is now.
Thatís a definite British trait. The humour was black comedy
almost. The Evil Usís were really evil! I went for it and had them
running riot doing despicable things. But test screen audiences couldnít
take it. That approach turned them off Bill and Ted. My original cut
would have played well in Britain. Iím to blame because I was so anxious
to broaden the concept out. Thatís why Joss Ackland plays De Nomolos
like a Nazi and Death is a Czechoslovakian. Thanks to me those largely
European elements found their way into the movie."
Originally Bogus Journey was titled Bill and
Ted Go to Hell and Hewitt gives the reason why it was changed.
"The Hell sequence was far longer in my original cut. At one point
demon guards gave Bill and Ted hammers which they started bashing each other
over the heads with. The joke was they enjoyed it so much they nearly
decide to stay! Preview audiences didnít like that either. But the
title had to change simply because you canít advertise anything with the word
Hell in it on American television until after 9 pm. As half the target
audience would have been in bed by then, the title had to go".
While Hewitt and company were shooting Bogus Journey,
"Sometimes working 22 hours a day. I had rings under my eyes and
resembled a panda!" Orion Pictures nearly went bust and had to be
financially restructured. Even the vast fortunes Dances With Wolves
and The Silence of the Lambs were accumulating didnít help. Thatís
why their most costly production The Addams Family was sold to Paramount
in America and Columbia-TriStar here. Hewitt shrugged, "We were aware
of the problems but it didnít affect us. We just forged ahead and kept
making jokes. The running on-set gag was ĎIf itís 4.30pm, weíre with
Universal, if itís 5.00pm, Paramountí. Apparently Fox made an offer
for the picture at one time as we were deemed a hot property. But Orion
were anxious to keep hold of us so they were only accepting bids
Next issue, Peter Hewitt talks about the appearance of Star
Trek, an earlier version of the end, Death, Heaven, Hell and the effects.
Click here to go to second part of article . . .