Montclair High School 'Showbiz Kid' Alex Winter All Grown Up, Still 'Excellent!'

'It's really good to be back!'

July 15, 2020

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure star, Alex Winter, talks to Brad Blanks about his new documentary Showbiz Kidz on HBO and the upcoming third installment of Bill and Ted - Bill and Ted’s Last Dance.

Remember Bill S. Preston, Esq. from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure? Bill was the blonde dude played by Alex Winter and the other time-traveling teenager, Ted "Theodore" Logan, was played by Keanu Reeves. The movie was Keanu’s breakout role, while it was Alex Winter’s stamp on an already long career as a child actor and teenage Broadway + film star.

Foregoing his acting career in his 20s, Alex has forged an impressive career as a director and documentarian. His latest documentary is on HBO and called Showbiz Kidz. It is an engaging and entertaining deep dive into some of the biggest child actors over the last 100 years, showing the many sides, the good and the bad of Hollywood, and the industry’s relationship with children.

Alex had been working hard in entertainment from a young age and it didn’t stop when he attended Montclair High School in New Jersey. When asked about high school and doing Broadway in the city Alex said, “I would take the bus into New York City every single day to do my shows. And then they'd let me out early on Wednesdays to do the matinee. So it was quite the life.”

The documentary captures the tough side of being a showbiz kid from the grueling schedule, the lonely homeschooling, the early filming times, the continual pressure to perform, and sadly a commodity to the parents. Alex, as the director and writer of the film, was also able to highlight the magic that these talented kids were achieving as well. The paradox of a child losing their innocence combined with the magic of performing on a Broadway stage was something that Alex went through himself. He said, “I was 13 years old, and I was a very young, very small 13, I was stepping out onto a giant Broadway stage, and The King and I. I was opening the show and the first actor on the stage. I sing a duet with my mom. It was beyond a dream come true. It was really one of the most magical experiences of my life, and I don't regret a day of that. But at the same time, some really terrible things were happening to me at that moment from having been in that show.”

A snapshot of showbiz history, Showbiz Kidz, features Henry Thomas, the little boy from ET, Todd Bridges from Diff'rent Strokes, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Wheaton who starred with River Phoenix in Stand By Me. The documentary also has a series of interviews with Cameron Boyce, the Disney star, who tragically passed away last year.

In our extensive chat, we did discuss the eagerly awaited release of the 3rd movie of the Bill and Ted adventures, Bill and Ted Face the Music. I asked him if how he was navigating this motion picture comeback. Alex said, “there was somewhat of a parallel between what I was going through returning to acting and what Bill has to go through, which is that basically since we last left him, they have not done a whole hell of a lot of what they were supposed to do!”

He went on to say, “We (Keanu and I) had to figure out how to play them (Bill and Ted) not exactly as they were when they were young but how they would be today.”

With all the adulation and success Alex and Keanu received on the back of the first two Bill and Ted movies over thirty years it must have been nuts being back together on a set again. I asked Alex if he ever looked Keanu and just said “this is crazy that we get to say all these amazing lines again!”

Alex quickly answered, “Yeah. There actually, funnily enough, was that exact moment, which neither of us expected. But it was unspoken. So we were sitting there tired and hot and aching, but we just looked at each other and smiled. And I think it was we both felt really grateful to have gotten the movie made and also to just be back in the playground together again, in the sandbox... Essentially, it's really good to be back!”

Keeping the theme of showbiz kids I had to ask him if he classed himself as a child actor that came out the other end on the good side of things. Alex laughed and said, “Well, here I am….. by the sheer fact of my sitting here with you today, I have come out the other end! I think I’m alright.”

Showbiz Kids can be seen now on HBO Max On Demand.

Bill and Ted’s Last Dance is aiming to be released in late August and in Alex’s words, “It will end up somewhere safe that people can see it without risking their lives.”

Until then, “Be excellent to each other!”