Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) are back in Bill & Ted Face the Music as the San Dimas, California duo still trying to fulfill their destiny to save the universe with their music. It’s been nearly 20 years since we last saw these best friends, and now, they’re middle-aged dads living with their historical babe wives (Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) and equally music-obsessed kids, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving). Bill and Ted still haven’t written the song that’s meant to ensure the survival of all mankind and the clock is ticking. Soon, the pair find themselves in a race against time and they must act fast to keep the world, their lives, and their families together.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Brigette Lundy-Paine talked about joining this iconic movie franchise, why they chose not to watch the previous films prior to auditioning for the third one, their audition process, getting to know their partner-in-crime Samara Weaving, working alongside all of the famous musician characters, and helping form Billie’s style. They also talked about why Atypical is such a special project, and how being non-binary influences the types of roles they’re looking to play.
Collider: This is a hugely iconic and legendary movie franchise. As somebody coming to it without having seen the other films, did you know, from the beginning, just how excited fans would be about this third film and how anxious people would be for it to come out?
BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE: No, I really had no idea. I think I realized it fully when I was sitting in the park the other night and I heard somebody say, “Bill & Ted 3 is coming out.” I literally gasped and was about to be like, “I’m in that!” And then, I held myself back. But no, I really wasn’t prepared. It makes sense to me. I really relate to that franchise more than I have before. A franchise about friendship is something that I can really get behind, so it feels really natural.
You’ve talked about how you hadn’t seen these films and you didn’t want to watch them before auditioning. Why was that a decision that you decided to make?
LUNDY-PAINE: I really like doing research for a part when I have the job, but for an audition, I really like to be as blind as possible, so that it feels like the stakes are as low as they should be for any audition. I had a great teacher in acting school that taught us, “You will never get a part. Go into every audition, knowing that you will never, ever get cast. And then, if you do, it’s a miracle.” So, I really carried that with me.
Since you had seen some clips, what was your impression of Bill & Ted before you actually watched the movies?
LUNDY-PAINE: I knew that it was this really dudey California voice. That was what I based my understanding of it on.
What was the audition process like for this? What scenes did they give you to read for the audition?
LUNDY-PAINE: The scene that we had was Billie & Thea trying to get musician X in their band. It was very simple scene where they were trying to coax this musician into their band with Sour Patch Kids. They go up to this musician and they’re like, “Dude, do you wanna be in our most excellent band?” And the musician is like, “I don’t even know who you are.” They have this candy and they offer it to him, which really summed up the entire crux of the film, which is like two cartoon characters confronted with a problem and solving it immediately with a childlike response.
What was it like when you found out that you would be in scenes with all of these famous musician characters?
LUNDY-PAINE: It was crazy. DazMann Still and Jeremiah Craft, who play Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong, their performances were so convincing that it really felt real on the day. We were in New Orleans, so to be with Satchmo at the Preservation Hall, there was not much acting to be had.
This is a movie with characters that just love each other and love life. Does that create that kind of an atmosphere on set? Was the cast just having a blast, the whole shoot?
LUNDY-PAINE: Oh, yeah, we really did. There were so many moments when the little green room area that was me, Sam [Weaving], Kristen Schaal, DazMann, Jeremiah, Patty [Anne Miller], Daniel [Dorr], Sharon [Gee] and Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi). We’re all such characters, to begin with, as people. We would sit together in a semi-circle for hours on end, which is what most of filmmaking is. There was one day that DazMann and Kristen were salsa dancing. It was all very silly and very fun.
I do love your character’s style in this. Did you get a say in the outfit, at all? Did you have any part of that?
LUNDY-PAINE: Yeah. Jennifer Starzyk, who’s the costume designer, picked out and brought Sam and I into the costume room where she had a bunch of kooky pieces. I’m talking a whole room of kooky pieces, and she just let Sam and I go wild. We both picked out three outfits, and then they chose from those. Jen is an incredible costume designer. She really gave us a lot of creative license and encouraged the kookiness. She would put together a costume and bring it over. She just had all of these pieces that she busted out and really gave us free rein. The costumes ended up being a huge part of these characters.
What was the key for you, in finding this character?
LUNDY-PAINE: A big part of it was the wardrobe, which I know was the same thing for Alex, in the original movies. Alex and I talked briefly about picking out our costumes and he told me that he had picked out the crop-top that he wears. We were both talking about how crazy it is to have picked out a crop-top when what I picked out was a very tight see-thru shirt. I would come back from lunch and be like, “I regret everything.” It ended up being so much about the costumes and so much about body language. I spent a long time watching Alex and Keanu on a loop, and watching them in the original movies and live on set, and really just playing around, as these very animal characters.
What was it like for you to get to know and work with Keanu Reeves, throughout this whole process? What did you learn about him, as an actor?
LUNDY-PAINE: I learned that both Alex and Keanu hold these characters in such a special place in their heart. They are so loyal to the characters and the truth of these characters. We talked a lot about how, in the first movie, they had approached history through this lens of realism and how important that is to the storytelling in Bill & Ted. They’re very earnest characters. They’re never making fun of themselves. They’re always just believing exactly what they say. It was cool to see that in practice. Alex and Keanu will do the scene and then think about it, in their intimate, mutual Bill & Ted’s language about what needs to change and what needs to happen in the next scene. To be brought into that as Billie & Thea, their kids, is being invited into that respect. It’s such an honor to be able to respect comedic characters because it takes so much of the weight off of you. You’re not trying to be funny, ever. You’re trying to be truthful. They were really encouraging with that.
Much like Bill & Ted, Billie’s partner in crime is Thea. What was it like for you to meet Samara Weaving and to form the bond between your characters?
LUNDY-PAINE: It was such a pleasure. I love Sam. She’s such a dear friend. We learned so much from each other. We’re both shy, in a way, and weirdos. So often, we would just be sitting there reading together. We had each other’s backs. Sam is my homie for life. There’s nothing that can bond two people more than doing a movie like Bill & Ted. It’s all about friendship.
How did the first day on set compare to the last day on set, for you? Did it feel very different, by the time you’d gone through the whole production with this group?
LUNDY-PAINE: Yeah, absolutely. The first day was Sam and I and Jimi Hendrix. DazMann Still gave such a fabulous performance as Jimi that it was completely beyond any of our expectations. He was just incredible. The first day was exhausting. We realized that it was tiring to time travel. And then, by the last day, we’d been doing it for two months and we’d been doing the sequence that was outside on the freeway and we were boiling hot and just past any point of putting up any fronts. We all got to know each other so well that we were just rocking out and making videos and running around. Wee had found this flow of really childlike fun.
You’ve also got Atypical, which people have really grown to love. What have you enjoyed about being a part of that show and playing that character?
LUNDY-PAINE: I love Atypical. I have been lucky to find myself doing projects that ended up being about empathy and kindness and tenderness for your fellow humans, and Atypical is the epitome of that. From the creator, Robia Rashid, and Mary Rohlich, who’s the producer to Keir Gilchrist, who plays Sam, every single person on that set is dedicated to goodness, in a way that I have rarely seen, especially in “Hollywood,” which can get a little swept away with ego. Atypical is the antithesis of that and it’s such a safe place to be. I feel so privileged to be a part of telling those stories
You’ve publicly come out as non-binary. How does that affect the kind of roles you want to play, and what you do and don’t want to represent on screen. Do you think about that when you look for projects and characters?
LUNDY-PAINE: Yeah, definitely. I’m definitely attracted to off-setting feminine expectations with projects that allow a genderlessness to flourish, which I think that Bill & Ted really does. It’s not a movie about gender. It’s about adventure. A lot of the time, I’ve been lucky to find those niche places where I don’t have to be anything but what I am. That is the priority for me, that I’m playing characters that I love and I care deeply about, and that it doesn’t end up being an affront to my understanding of gender and my experience with the world. When I look for scripts, especially now, I have a really critical eye that it feels truthful, and not just as a non-binary person. I don’t need to play non-binary roles. I would love to do and I think that people should write more non-binary roles in stories that aren’t necessarily about non-binary people but that are just about people living their life. I look for roles that are people either experiencing joy or experiencing tragedy, through a very human lens that doesn’t feel hyper-feminine or hyper-masculine.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is in select theaters and available on-demand.
Christina Radish is a Senior Reporter of Film, TV, and Theme Parks for Collider. You can follow her on Twitter @ChristinaRadish.