Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was a huge hit back in 1989 that led to an almost immediate sequel and turned its two leads, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, into stars. Reeves would go on to a successful career in Hollywood and is currently a bigger star than he has ever been. Alex Winter's career did continue, but following Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey the actor largely left the screen and moved himself behind the camera. In a recent interview, Winter has opened up about the fact that part of the reason for his decision to remove himself from the spotlight was due to abuse he experienced as a child actor.
Alex Winter recently spoke with The Guardian about a new documentary film he is producing about child actors, a topic he knows a great deal about having been one. Alex Winter performed in The King and I with Yul Brynner on Broadway as a kid, but at the same time he was doing that, a role he legitimately loved, he was apparently dealing with abuse. As Winter explained...
But at the same time. I was dealing with really intense and prolonged abuse. There was The King and I – eight shows a week, happy face – feeling genuinely happy in that role. Great relationship with my mom and dad; great relationship with the co-workers around me; doing interviews, signing autographs, living this amazing … and then this nightmarish other existence.
Alex Winter has never revealed the name of the person who abused him, beyond saying the person is dead. But he's now putting his experience, and that of several other child actors, front and center in a new documentary for HBO called Showbiz Kids which Winter directed and will feature several other child stars, including Evan Rachel Wood.
It was only two years ago that Alex Winter publicly revealed the abuse he suffered. It seems he tried to deal with both his career and his personal demons for many years, but eventually realized that he was going to need to get out of the view of a camera if he was going to feel safe...
By your mid-20s, it’s like you’re holding those different selves together with duct tape. That’s when you see kids overdosing or blowing their heads off. In my case, I was just like, I need to stop doing this thing where these eyes are on me all the time and I don’t feel safe or comfortable … I just want to go ride the subway and help raise a family and do my writing and directing.
Alex Winter has gone on to a career making documentary films just like this one. His return in Bill and Ted Face the Music was a sort of coming out of retirement for the actor, to reprise the role that made him a star.