Interview: Alex Winter Chats About ‘Showbiz Kids’ and some about ‘Bill and Ted’

Bill and Ted

Alex Winter’s Latest Documentary Showbiz Kids premieres tonight on HBO. We were lucky enough to discuss his latest work but working a few questions about Bill and Ted as well.

DS: Are parents like the ones highlighted in Showbiz Kids the root of a bigger problem?

AW: Not at all. I don’t think it’s a black and white issue at all. I don’t think there’s a problem per se with parents of children in the industry. There are challenges, and there are good parents and bad parents just like their good parents and bad parents of regular kids. The world is very challenging, and you have to be prepared to meet those challenges.

DS: Do you feel the documentary captures this collective sense of innocence lost in these child actors.?

AW: Not really. It shows people who are faced with challenges that are somewhat universal in the entertainment industry and any industry where you’re professional as children. The highs for them were very high. The lows for them were low. Some had experienced greater ones than others. What is consistent is that there is a time for reflection and for determining one’s identity. That occurs when you have been in the entertainment industry and when you’re young. That may not be the same for kids who are not in the entertainment industry who just develop more naturally. There’s a transition into adolescence and or young adults that these kids have to wrap their heads around, and some don’t have big problems. 

DS: Would you say that this documentary is your most personal one yet? 

AW: Yeah, there’s no doubt this is the most personal film of Of Made because this is my story alongside the story of the subjects, and it was a story I wanted to tell for a very long time.  

I wanted to look at what the experience was like for many people across the entertainment industry. It was really cathartic and quite moving for me to engage in in the stories that we did because it very much reflected my own experiences.

DS: I would have to say you certainly achieved that collective perspective in the documentary. While you certainly have some positive stories told, you’ve also got Wil Wheaton’s seems so

resentful about being pushed into this field at such a young age.

AW: Yeah, I think that everyone responds to their experiences differently. However, similar to those experiences were all the experiences aren’t identical. How they process that experience, the relationship to their family, the relationship to the industry, and their sense of identity probably shape how they respond. You know Will’s responses are as you said it’s very different from ours. Todd Bridges’ response is different too. It’s interesting to me. That’s one of the things I love about making documentaries. Is how endlessly fascinating human beings are, and you get to dive into that with documentaries. 

DS: I think you would be the perfect person to tackle doing a documentary about teachers going back into the classroom in this era of COVID-19. 

AW: That’s interesting. Yeah, it would be pretty grim. I’m very engaged with being a dad, and you know being a son who is very concerned about my elderly mother in New York. I think there are thankfully a lot of really great doc people out there already telling stories. Yeah, that would be compelling. I think it’s probably too late for me to do that because I would have needed a start a few months ago, but I find those subjects very compelling.

DS: What do you get asked most about, The Lost Boys or Bill and Ted?

AW: It’s kind of all of the above. You know people like to talk to Bill and Ted because we’ve just made 1/3 and it’s kind of at the front of folks minds. But there’s a lot of Lost Boys fans out there, and I get a lot of people talking to me about it, which is frankly more surprising. I find it more interesting that happens then Bill and Ted, which, you know, there were two of them, and it’s been kind of more in the zeitgeist.  The Lost Boys have this impact on the culture. I mean, it’s nothing to do with me. I didn’t write or direct. It just showed up, and I didn’t even really say very much. But it’s had this cultural impact, and it’s been fascinating to see how much people respond to it and kind of what it means to them.

DS: I thought you were going to say neither and tell us it was Death Wish 3. 

AW: Actually, I get a lot of that too. I do. People love those movies and watch them religiously. They know every nook and cranny of them. Bronson fans are die-hard.

DS: You can only answer Bill and Ted questions so many ways. 

AW: We’ve done another one, so it’s like shaking the whole thing up again. There’s a lot to talk about now because it was just such a long road to getting it made. We had such a good time making it. But it was 25 years since the last Bill and Ted. I was running out of steam on what to say about it. 

DS: How often do you get stopped by people attempting to do an impression of you from Bill and Ted? 

AW: They’ll do their version of the character, which I find quite sweet. You know just a hand gesture, and they’ll sort of say our catchphrases. People have ownership of those characters. People who love those movies feel connected to those characters in their way either from their childhood or just because they like them. People will tend to come up to me and kind of filter the characters through themselves, which is even better frankly and less uncomfortable.

DS: What can you share with us about where things are with Bill and Ted 3? Could we see the movie release online possibility? 

AW: (Laughs) Not a whole lot at the moment other than what is already public. You know we’ve been working very hard to get the film out to people. We want to do it in the safest way possible. We might have news for folks soon, but we don’t um we can’t say anything conclusive today. There’s a lot of work going into it. They’re challenging movies to make. You know they have a very specific tone, and this feels like a Bill and Ted movie. So we feel good about what we’re delivering to the fans um of the previous two movies. We’re very eager to get it out. It’s a crazy landscape out there. We are very mindful of the difficult position that the audiences are in. We’re also aware of the difficult position exhibitors are in. It’s challenging.

DS: Do you feel that COVID might end up causing this seismic change in how we consume media? 

AW: You know there’s been a lot of talk about that, and it’s certainly possible. If it happens, it would not be because of COVID. It would be because the exhibitors were left to die. The truth is there needs to be a bailout for the exhibitors. If the movie business does not start back up, and it’s just too dangerous to get people back in the theaters in a meaningful way. There needs to be a stimulus package; otherwise, we’re just letting them die, and that would be a terrible thing. 

DS: Have you kept any mementos over the years from any of the films you’ve been apart of? 

AW: Yes, and no. I had lots of stuff, and I don’t know where it is anymore(Laughs). My mom has got my Lost Boys jacket, which is great because she’s better taking care of things than I am. She moves less than I do, and she doesn’t have three kids running around destroying things. The thing that I have, which I loved, is the evil robot head … you know when we knock our heads off at the end of bogus I had that head as a doorstop for years.

DS: What’s brought you more joy – being in movies like Bill and Ted, working on documentaries, or being in two Red Hot Chilli Pepper Videos? 

AW: (Laughs) Well, I’m only in one .. well I guess I’m kind of in two. I’m really only sort of in the background in the second one. I did get to direct one with my partner Tom Stern. So I guess I’m officially involved in three. I loved the music video area. It was great. It died like a hard death in the nineties. I was fortunate that I got that experience. We made a bunch of videos on my own and got to work with some great artists and go on the road. I remember shooting in a mosh pit, and somehow my nose was broken. I believe someone might have kicked me in the face doing a stage dive. I just kept shooting, and my face was just filling with blood. Eventually, someone pulled me out told me to stop doing that. 

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