Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure star Alex Winter recently revealed that he is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a new interview with BBC Radio 5 live's Adrian Chiles.
But, the actor-turned-filmmaker said, working on the set of the original 1989 film, and then again for the 1991 sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, was instrumental in helping him push past the scars of abuse.
"The movies are what they are, they're silly and all that, I don't hold them in overly high estimation as works of art or anything, but we had a lot of fun making them," Winter said. "But for me personally, in terms of the experience … it was really, really helpful for me mentally. And it was a great environment. The world of Bill & Ted is a very sweet and fun place to run around in."
"It was an opportunity to be child-like … innocent and sweet," he said of the movies, calling work on them "therapeutic."
Winter played the titular Bill in the flicks, with Keanu Reeves starring opposite him as Ted. The two films revolved around the misadventures of two seemingly dumb teens off to try and accomplish some outlandish tasks (in the first, they try to prepare the ultimate historical presentation by using a time machine; in the second, they have to eliminate their clones).
The actor explained that he had never brought up the abuse previously because he viewed it as a "potentially dangerous secret," even though he described the aftermath of dealing with the abuse as "hellish."
"I don't think anybody felt like they were going to be heard if they said anything about this type of behavior, until very recently," he said. "I didn't feel that I had any place of safety to unlock an extremely sensitive and potentially dangerous secret."
For Winter, the "lightbulb" moment came in October of last year, when Harvey Weinstein was bombarded with allegations of sexual harassment and abuse that spanned decades. Seeing so many survivors come forward in the media gave him the courage to face his past, he said. Not that simply acknowledging the abuse will create change.
"The problems aren't going to get sorted out overnight, because frankly, these issues are part of the fabric of human nature, and they've existed since there have been human beings walking around on the planet. So it's going to take time, it's going to take mental health work, it's going to take the capacity of society to listen to some very unpleasant truths about itself. And there's no doubt that that's going to take time."