If you had asked William Sadler a decade ago if he ever thought he’d don the robes and make-up to play Death in a new Bill and Ted movie, he would have told you definitely not.
It wasn’t that he was against the idea. He just never thought it would happen.
Then, about three years ago, screenwriter Ed Solomon contacted Sadler out of the blue and said he was writing a new Bill and Ted sequel and wondered if the actor would be willing to come back to the franchise.
“I said, yeah absolutely,” Sadler told iHorror in a recent interview for the film. “Then they had trouble getting backers and the studios didn’t want to go near it. They had the money and then the money fell through. It was just this odyssey until it was greenlit, until we were actually filming it. Then all the sudden everyone said, ‘Oh, of course, that’s a great idea.’ I guess it was meant to be.”
With that studio green light, however, there was some trepidation about stepping back into a role that Sadler had not played in almost three decades. It was time to break out the old DVD and remind himself what his version of Death looked like and how he acted..
Then, when he arrived on set, something magical happened for the actor.
“As soon as I started doing the Czechoslovakian accent and got the makeup on and the robes, it was like I’d been carrying him around in my pocket for ages and I could finally let him out,” Said said with a laugh. “He just took off. It was great. It was not hard to slip back into that character.”
Sadler is no stranger to slipping into unusual characters, and he’s very good at it. The character of Death comes with an added layer of camouflage, however. Hiding behind the skeletal makeup of the Grim Reaper has its advantages and offers a kind of freedom in its anonymity.
It was fun and exciting for the actor who says there were some people on the production, and particularly the new cast, who probably never knew what his actual face looked like while they were filming.
His time on the production ultimately felt like a reunion of sorts, working with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter again and seeing how they’d changed and grown as actors in the interim. This is to say nothing of the new cast members who, Sadler says, were brilliant.
“The actors, all these new faces; it was exciting to be there for me,” he explained. “Samara [Weaving] and Brigette [Lundy-Paine], I mean, they were just delightful. That can’t have been easy for them either. Step into a franchise that started before they were born. The rest of us have been on this bus for a long time and they were brand new shiny actors. I thought they were terrific. They were fun to work with.”
Now that the movie has officially premiered, the actor hopes that the themes of the film work their way into the minds of those who see it, and that maybe receiving those messages will help heal some of what’s going on in the world.
“We had no idea [while filming] the world was going to be hit with this pandemic and everything else that has happened to this country in the meantime,” Sadler said. “The message is potent and timely. We have to pull together. We can get through this but this is how you do it. The world is really just a small town. You work together and you can get through anything. Be excellent to each other. Wouldn’t it be something if Bill and Ted actually saved the universe?”
That would be something, indeed, William Sadler.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is out today in theaters and on VOD platforms. Check out the trailer below and party on, dudes!