William Sadler did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying death aka the grim reaper in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.
Now a great deal of affection for the film comes with the creativity of the sequel which in no way rehashes the original, despite also being a designation of travel in the title. The very idea that they literally kill the protagonists in the first half hour alone is hardly the choice you'll find in the "two dumb guys" genre of films. Now another one of these choices is the inclusion of death in the film, specifically referencing the Bengt Ekerot's version of the character from Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. The part here being played by William Sadler then probably best known for playing villain in Die Hard 2. Sadler first appears in the film after Bill and Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) have been murdered by their evilrobotusis, a common ailment we all may face one day. Sadler initially actually appears as though he is replicating Ekerot's performance more or less with his dark and solemn stare, even some generalized Norwegian accent. A man of little to no emotion, but there is something ominous within the presence that he exudes. Of course this is quickly broken when the boys, to get away from death, give him a "Melvin", aka a forward aimed weaponized wedgie. Sadler's impeccably delivered comical cry of anguish at this assault though rather shatters such an image as he is briefly taken out of the picture.
Death returns when Bill and Ted try to escape hell by challenging the Reaper to game. A game initially it seems may have just a bit of that slightly more intense style to it as Sadler initially reappears again with that same ominous style, though perhaps a bit less effective in this attempt now we've seen him melvined. Of course it isn't one game, but several children's board games they play to challenge death to which Sadler is hilarious in very trying to stay somewhat in the realm of Ekerot, while also playing battleship. Sadler's approach is especially entertaining because he brings so much conviction within death being completely within a wholly inappropriate situation, and speaking rather inappropriate phrases. One being after his loss at battleship demanding another game to which the boys say "No way", then Sadler is comedic gold by delivering with such intensity in his eyes and his voice as retorts "yes way". The game sequence is honestly probably my favorite in the film as it focuses so closely on Sadler. Whether it be his timing of "I said plumb" when claiming to have guessed the right answer to Clue, or his frustrations as he attempts to contort impossibly while playing twister. Sadler is an absolute delight in being completely silly, yet still with the sense of some rather deeply hidden gravitas at this point.
Now again I must give credit to the film for its creativity, which doesn't only have death as a character, but then decides to keep him on as an ally of the boys after they best him just one too many times. This thankfully gives us more of Sadler as he goes along with the boys to support them in their quest to destroy their evilrobotusis, and of course make it to the battle of the bands. I will say on re-watch I don't think the film used that as much as it could have in terms of making death part of the action however Sadler's little moments throughout the last act of the film are typically the highlights of the scenes. I thoroughly enjoy the way he plays death begrudgingly losing his more stern manner both in these amusing moments of frustrations at the boys, but also eventually in getting enjoyment out of their adventure as well. Although nothing is really made of it within the story, other than death Melvining the main villain, Sadler actually does create an arc for death in that he naturally portrays death finding his smile, and enjoying himself along with the boys. Most importantly though his realization of this is actually just funny. I also would be remiss if I didn't mention though the little gems sprinkled of Sadler throughout that are just hilarious little bit so well delivered by Sadler. My favorites being his over eagerness when guessing "Butch and Sundance: The Early Year" before switching to shame for having mentioned that film, or his so perfectly blunt yet casual way of saying "see you really soon" to a smoker he passes by. This is just an altogether, for the lack of a better word, fun performance that adds a needed extra element to this bodacious sequel. Hopefully Sadler will also "face the music" along with the boys if that third film is actually getting made.