CS Interview: William Sadler on VFW & Bill & Ted
William Sadler is one of the more iconic character actors of the past few decades, starring in everything from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey to The Mist to Iron Man 3, and now ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with the 69-year-old actor on his latest action-horror hit VFW and his future in the Bill & Ted series!
VFW follows a group of war veterans who must defend their local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and an innocent teenager when a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of punk mutants begin an assault on the vets.
The film is directed by Joe Begos (Bliss) on a script co-written by Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle and stars Sadler alongside Stephen Lang (Avatar), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn), Martin Kove (The Karate Kid), David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors) and George Wendt (Cheers) and is in select theaters and on digital platforms now.
Sadler described working on the film alongside a roster of other major character actors as “an extraordinary experience,” in which he was able to “mix it up with a fun bunch of guys” that he’s known from over the years.
“I’ve worked with everybody I think except George Wendt and the Hammer on all these other guys,” Sadler said. “I did a show on Broadway with David Patrick Kelly and a TV show as well, a guest spot. The first movie I ever did was with Stephen Lang, in fact, were both in Shakespeare in the Park after 1970. There was this wonderful sort of camaraderie, we’ve all been in the trenches for so long and known each other for so long, except when they turned the cameras.”
While there is plenty of action in the movie, including the star getting to wield a chainsaw, Sadler found that the exhilarating part of shooting was actually found in many of the scenes that required more serious acting on his and his costars behalves.
“The most exhilarating stuff was the acting scenes, where we got to snuggle up next to Martin Kove and do that kind of wonderful little moment, where he’s so bad at foxhole chit chat,” Sadler said. “The action stuff, you have to do it by the numbers. You gotta be careful nobody gets hurt because people are swinging things around and blood is flying everywhere. I guess wielding the chainsaw was pretty exhilarating. It’s really small and it weighed 8,000 pounds, it’s fucking heavy. It was gasolined up like in terms of dousing exhaust fumes into the room where we’re filming. So they attached a hose to the bottom of it and just sprayed blood everywhere, like just made a spray into the crowd. They’re all screaming and dying and I’m screaming and covered and blood is spraying everywhere, I think that was maybe the most fun action.”
One of Sadler’s most iconic performances came in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey as the personification of Death, for which he received rave reviews for his portrayal, and is set to return for the highly-anticipated third installment Bill & Ted Face the Music, which he describes as “doing its own thing” just like Bogus did.
“It picks up the story 30 years down the road, so it’s not a different film, but rather different elements that are the same,” Sadler described. “But we meet all of these characters after they’ve been off having a life and we sort of pick it up now that they’re middle aged and a lot of stuff has happened to Death, too. Last we saw him he was playing on stage with Bill and Ted and we see what went on in his life. So yeah, I don’t want to spoilt it for anybody, but it’s really, really fun. I wasn’t there for a lot of the filming because Death isn’t a man thread throughout the movie, but through the portion that I am there, I just had the best giggle the whole length of playing that character. To get to do it again with Keanu and Alex was just fantastic.”