HEAT VISION

Is Death Jr. the Mystery Villain of 'Bill & Ted 3'?

'Barry' breakout Anthony Carrigan's mystery bad guy could have a tie to 1991's 'Bogus Journey.'
Anthony Carrigan (left); William Sadler in 'Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey' (1991)   |   Karwai Tang/WireImage; Photofest
'Barry' breakout Anthony Carrigan's mystery bad guy could have a tie to 1991's 'Bogus Journey.'

Is death coming for Bill and Ted once again?

The latest casting news for the upcoming Bill & Ted Face the Music hint that the time-traveling slackers, played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, respectively, will have their hands full in the third film. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news Wednesday that Anthony Carrigan, the actor who brings fan fave Barry villain NoHo Hank to life on the hit HBO show, is joining the cast of the pic as a "relentless" antagonist. Could that villain be ... Death Jr.?

Carrigan's comedy chops and instantly recognizable bald head and lack of facial hair ⁠— the actor has alopecia ⁠— make Death Jr. seem like a good fit.

The original Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) centered on the two titular slackers who had to utilize time travel in order to pass history and graduate high school. The follow-up, 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, focused on the pair being hunted by a villain from the future who wanted to stop them from becoming the most famous musicians on the planet. After the pair are killed by their own robot doppelgangers, they find themselves in hell. That's where they face off against Death himself (William Sadler), who eventually joins them in their quest to defeat evil, abandoning the underworld to play bass in the teen time-travelers' band, Wyld Stallyns.

The official synopsis of Bill & Ted Face the Music describes the pair as middle-aged musicians who have yet to write the prophesied greatest song on Earth. Their creative struggle seems to be generating a cataclysmic event, with "the fabric of time and space tearing around them." This leads to "a visitor from the future who warns our heroes that only their song can save life as we know it" — Kelly, a character who could potentially be the child of time traveler Rufus (the late George Carlin in the first two films). It also reveals that the pair will embark on a new time-hopping journey with their own daughters, Billy (Bridgette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving).

The themes of family and children look to be key to the new entry to the film franchise. Sadler will be returning alongside Reeves and Winter ⁠as Death, so it makes sense that Death's offspring may well play a vital role in the pic. There are a few reasons why Carrigan makes a lot of sense for this potential part: Not only has he proven himself to be a comedic actor who can carry heavier and more thoughtful storylines, he's also a dab hand at the kind of accent work which is key to the part of Death, who in the 1991 installment was based on the classic Ingmar Bergman representation of Death from The Seventh Seal (1957) and thus was played with a heavy accent.

So if it does turn out that Carrigan is playing Death Jr. or the Son of Death, what could his motivations be? Well, seeing as his father left the underworld in pursuit of fame and fortune, it's likely that his son could be on a mission to redeem the family name after 'Daddy Dearest' abandoned his immortal role. There's also a good chance he'd be pretty angry at the two men who lured the Grim Reaper away with their sick riffs and totally non-non-non-heinous adventures. Carrigan could easily don the infamous cloak and scythe, hunting down the Wyld Stallyns through time and space as they try to rectify the damage that has been done by not writing the perfect song.

Though it'll be a while until fans know exactly who Carrigan is playing, Death Jr. seems like a pretty good guess, especially coming off the back of HBO's popular hitman comedy that has garnered rave reviews for the former Gotham star. Rebooting a classic film series has been a tougher proposition of late, with franchises like Men in Black, X-Men and Godzilla struggling to find their footing at the box office. But with unconventional and exciting casting like Carrigan, as well as getting the band back together with the original creative team, Bill & Ted Face the Music could change all of that when it bows in summer 2020.

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  1. July 17, 2019 10:00am PT
    by Graeme McMillan
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