Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure celebrates its 30th anniversary this week, which has inspired us to take a look at the movie’s cast.
Not Keanu ‘Ted’ Reeves, who was soon starring in blockbusters like Point Break, Speed, and The Matrix. Nor Alex ‘Bill’ Winter, who now directs politically-charged documentaries like Downloaded, Deep Web, and The Panama Papers.
Rather, we’re examining the careers of the actors who played the eight historical figures whom Bill and Ted kidnap for the sake of their history grades. And to save all of humanity.
Napoleon – Terry Camilleri
Napoleon goes on perhaps the most Excellent Adventure in Bill and Ted, visiting a bowling alley, discovering ice-cream, and throwing himself down some gnarly water slides. It’s actor Terry Camilleri’s best-known role, though his collaborations with director Peter Weir are also pretty memorable, the Malta-born actor starring in cult classic The Cars That Ate Paris, and going on an emotional rollercoaster while watching The Truman Show in a bath. Post-1989 Camilleri played a cashier in Nic Cage thriller Knowing, and was stuffed in a dryer by Ben Affleck in mega-bomb Gigli. While as part of Nike’s 2006 World Cup campaign, he played ‘History.’ Which is very Bill and Ted.
Billy the Kid – Dan Shor
Dan Shor had a varied acting career before playing William H. Bonney in Bill & Ted. Appearing in John Huston drama Wise Blood, playing RAM in Tron, and landing a recurring role in Cagney and Lacey. After Excellent Adventure he popped up in Red Rock West and Air Force One, and bagged himself a table at Comic-Cons all over the world by playing Ferengi physician Arridor in both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager. Shor wasn’t invited back for sci-fi sequel Tron Legacy, but did make an appearance in spin-off short The Next Day. Which suggested that, should Tron 3 happen, Ram will return.
Socrates – Tony Steedman
With more than 130 IMDb credits to his name – over a career that spanned 40 years – Tony Steedman appeared in some of the UK’s most popular TV shows, including Dixon of Dock Green, The Avengers, Z Cars, The Champions, Citizen Smith, The Sweeney, All Creatures Great and Small, The Professionals, Some Mothers Do ‘Av Em, Minder, Casualty, and The Brittas Empire. He made the move to American TV, popping up in The Fall Guy, The A-Team, My Two Dads, The Golden Girls, and Babylon 5. He also voiced Justin Hammer in the Iron Man animated show. But, So-crates aside, Tony is best remembered for his stints on two long-running British soap operas, playing Chief Inspector Patterson in Coronation Street, and Dr. Butterworth in Crossroads. Steedman passed away in 2001.
Sigmund Freud – Rod Loomis
Before playing founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, Rod Loomis divided his time between stage and screen. The Vermont-born actor attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and appeared in the touring companies of Uncle Vayna, The Sound of Music, 1776, The Merry Widow, and Jekyll & Hyde. He did sci-fi via roles in Quantum Leap, Stargate SG-1, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Had a recurring role as Adam Banks in The Bold and the Beautiful. And played a director in Brian De Palma’s entertaining sleaze-fest Body Double. But Bill & Ted aside, Loomis is probably most reknowned for his role as King Zed, father of the title character in sword and sandals classic The Beastmaster.
Beethoven – Clifford David
A member of the famed Actor’s Studio and a protégé of legendary drama teacher Lee Strasbourg, Clifford David became a star on and off Broadway, in both plays and musicals. His beautiful singing voice can be heard on the original cast recording of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. While David landed the role of Beethoven in Bill & Ted thanks to his piano skills, showing them off in both 19th Century Vienna and 1980s San Dimas. Clifford also played Dr. Bruno in troubled horror sequel The Exorcist III, as well as a pair of professors in Signs and Kinsey, before passing away in 2017 at the age of 89.
Joan of Arc – Jane Wiedlin
Before turning Joan of Arc into an aerobics instructor, Jane Wiedlin was a bona fide pop star. As a founding member of New Wave girl-group The Go-Go’s she sold over 7m records worldwide, with 1981 debut album ‘Beauty and the Beat’ topping the U.S. charts for six weeks. Following the break-up of the band she had a massive solo hit with the song ‘Rush Hour’, and dipped her toe in thespian waters, playing the ‘Singing Telegram Girl’ in Clue, and a communications officer in Star Trek IV. Wiedlin also lent her voice to the likes of Scooby-Doo, King of the Hill, and The Wild Thornberrys. But music remained her first love, and more recently the reformed Go-Go’s played the Hollywood Bowl. While Head Over Heels – a musical featuring Go-Go songs – spent six months on Broadway last year.
Genghis Khan – Al Leong
Al Leong is the greatest henchman in film history. So much so that a documentary has been made about his life, simply titled Henchman: The Al Leong Story. A skilled martial artist who graduated from stunts to supporting roles, if you were watching action movies in the late 1980s, you couldn’t miss Al and his impressive handle-bar moustache. He made unforgettable appearances in the likes of Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, and Big Trouble in Little China. And was responsible for stunts in The Golden Child, Godzilla, The Last Action Hero, and many, many more. Leong mentored Dwayne Johnson on Scorpion King, with The Rock stating “Al has a fantastic mind. He’s able to visualise the fight scenes and I’m able to map them out with him. He’s helped me tremendously.” While that speed, dexterity and agility can be seen in Bill & Ted when Al demonstrates Genghis Khan’s skill with a sword. Excellent Adventure also happens to be one of the few features in which Al Leong doesn’t die.
Abraham Lincoln – Robert V. Barron
Another graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Robert V. Barron divided his time between writing and acting, producing scripts for Bonanza, Tammy, and Wild Wild West, and appearing in The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dukes of Hazzard, Amazing Stories, and LA Law. Barron also helped adapt and then voice numerous American versions of anime shows like Robotech and Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years. While Bill & Ted wasn’t his only appearance as Abraham Lincoln, the actor playing ‘Honest Abe’ in TV shows Love, American Style, Out of This World, and Get a Life. Barron passed away in 2000.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was released in US cinemas on 17 February, 1989.