By Shanee Edwards · October 11, 2019
Everyone loves Kevin Smith and his movies, so I’m thrilled to report that Jay & Silent Bob Reboot is hilarious. It’s an unconventional father/daughter love story that even has some tender, emotional moments and tons of cameos by big-name actors.
In this episode, I talk to Kevin about the origins of the characters Jay and Silent Bob, working with his daughter Harley Quinn Smith, and how his heart attack last year empowered his career.
Jay & Silent Bob Reboot screened on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 at 600 theaters around the country.
00:03 Shanee Edwards: You’re listening to The Script Lab Podcast. I’m Shanee Edwards. Everyone loves Kevin Smith and his movies. I’m thrilled to report that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is hilarious. It’s an unconventional father-daughter love story that even has some tender emotional moments. Kevin talks about the origins of the characters Jay and Silent Bob, working with his daughter, and even shares how his heart attack last year empowered his career. Take a listen. Hi, Kevin.
00:35 Kevin Smith: Hi. How are you?
00:36 SE: I’m great. I’m so excited to speak to you.
00:38 KS: Thank you.
00:39 SE: And the reboot is hilarious.
00:43 KS: Thank you.
00:44 SE: I mean I laughed from beginning to end.
00:46 KS: Thank you.
00:46 SE: And, oh, and I was gonna tell you that I actually interviewed your lovely daughter, Harley Quinn Smith.
00:51 KS: For what?
00:53 SE: For Yoga…
00:54 KS: Hosers. Back in the day.
00:55 SE: Hosers. At Sundance, a few years ago.
00:58 KS: Oh my God. Thank you.
01:00 SE: She was with Lily, and she was just, your daughter is so poised and articulate and funny.
01:06 KS: I blame my wife.
01:06 SE: Yeah? [chuckle]
01:07 KS: Yeah. That’s where the poise comes from. Funny, she’s just got a good sense of humor. Yeah, she’s a good kid. I was, Holden, in the movie, Ben Affleck’s character, does this whole big monologue about how when you’re older, you’re no longer the star, you’re the stage. And the kids, it’s all about the kids. It’s all about providing a world for your kids to be who they wanna be, the same way your parents did for you. And it’s a lovely little speech, and Ben absolutely crushes it. But it really is the author of the screenplay just going like, “This is why I cast my daughter.” And just trying to like…
01:51 KS: For anybody left in the audience, it’s like, “Come on. Stop casting your kid.” That speech is like, “I don’t know how else to say this. So here goes.” I love working with her, putting her in stuff. Tusk was the first one, and it was an accident. It wasn’t meant to be like… She’s gonna do this for a living. She was a bass player, and that’s where she was headed. So I was like, “Well, we’re shooting this movie. It’d be funny if you should play the convenience store clerk ’cause I was one. And it’d be nice to see what it looked like if you actually got a job. Let’s be honest, that’s never gonna happen. So let’s put you behind a convenience store counter, and put you in the movie.”
02:28 KS: And that lit the spark, where suddenly she was like… Both her and Lily were like, “This is what we wanna do with our lives.” So Yoga Hosers happened. And then Harley would independently go out and do her thing. So she did all these small moments, indie movies she shot in New York. And then did Quentin’s movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Which was wonderful she got to do that before Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, because I think if she just went to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot without Quentin’s movie, it would have been like, “Oh my God, my father is hiring me. I can’t get a job except from my father.”[chuckle]
03:02 KS: So coming off of Quentin’s movie, she was on her own steam, like, “Hey, man. I’ll do you a favor and be in your picture, Dad.” That kind of thing. So it was really kinda nice. I like working with her. She’s my favorite actress in the world, and naturally, I say that ’cause she blood, but also in this movie, became my favorite actress, ’cause she had a plan. I had no plan. I wrote the character of Milly, but she was pretty two-dimensional and stuff, and I was like, “Harley will flesh her out.” I didn’t know what she would sound like or anything like that.
03:32 KS: And so, Harley came to us off of Quentin’s movie, and she worked with us three days into the movie. It was her first day and my third day. And so after the first day working with her, I went home, and Jen, my wife, was like, “How did she do?” And I said “You know, I thought she was really good, but I think she’s in a completely different fucking movie than the one we’re making.”[chuckle]
03:56 KS: “I honestly feel this kid’s making a drama. We’re all making this human cartoon. I don’t know how to explain it to her but she’s acting too good for what we’re doing, I guess is what I’m getting at.” So after watching her do it for like two days, I was like, “Oh, she’s got an idea. She’s got a plan. She’s an actress. Fine, I’ll let it go.” So I just kind of trusted her instincts. I’m like, “This is who Milly is.”
04:23 KS: I really fell in love with her performance. She put so much thought into it. It didn’t feel like she just did this movie as a favor or something like that. She was like, “If I’m gonna be in this fucking movie, I’m gonna make it work.” And so she gave a legit wonderful performance, that as the movie went on, I was like, “I think her instincts were correct. She’s grounded. Everyone else is a fucking cartoon, and she’s Marilyn, in The Munsters.”
04:48 KS: For some reason, it makes it more poignant that she’s not arch and sarcastic, or anything like that. She’s earnest, and you believe that she’s heartbroken that she doesn’t where know her father is. And you believe that she’s heartbroken when she finds out who her father is. And stuff like that. I told her at the end of the movie man, when I finished editing her last scene… And her last scene was one of her first scenes, when we go to their house and we go into her room and stuff. So we shot out of order, naturally. And I cut it out of order, because we shot it out of order, but I was editing while we shoot, ’cause that’s what I do.
05:28 KS: And that’s how I try to make the movie better and stuff, ’cause then you see what you’re missing. And then you could show the cast the movie as it’s shaping up and people get pumped. So I put it together and I finally cut her last scene so I could watch her entire character arc. And I was delighted, and I went and found her. I was like, “Did you know that you landed it? There’s an arc to Milly that begins here. And you’re kinda shitty to him, but you actually grow to like him and you can track it. It really works in the movie. Even though we shot out of sequence, you kept it together.” And she looked at me like I was dumb as hell. Like, “Yeah.” And she said, “Isn’t that what an actor’s job is, Dad?” And I’m like, “Yeah, but who knew you were an actor? That’s nuts.”
06:14 KS: So I was rehearsing with her last night. She’s going in for an audition, for some NBC pilot. And she was like, “Can you run lines with me?” I was like, “Oh my God, yes.” And it was just legit fun. I know she’s my kid and I know I work in this business, but scrape everything away, we’re just sitting there, pretending, playing. It’s really beautiful. So I love her being in what I used to think was my world, but is now our world. But I don’t know. And I’m gonna cherish it ’cause I don’t know how much more of it I get. Sooner or later, maybe she’s like, “Bro, ease up. Let me go do my own shit and whatnot.” See, I don’t think so. She’s too nice a kid. I don’t think she’d ever hurt my feelings or thinks she would hurt my feelings like that, but…
07:01 KS: I also know that things can upend in a minute, I had a heart attack, fucking a year and a half ago, almost died, so I’m like, “Well, now I live not in fear, but waiting for the other shoe to drop.” go, “Alright, where’s the next heart attack?” Even though I like changed my life and stuff like that.
07:17 SE: You look great, by the way.
07:18 KS: Thank you, trying to stay above ground. But still it’s like, it wasn’t just weight and it wasn’t just poor diet, it was also genetics. So that’s something you can’t… I can lose weight, I can exercise, I can hike, running every fucking day. But at the end of the day, Mom and Dad gave me what they gave me, and theirs were broken and so mine is what it is. So, in a world where I’m like, that could go at any minute and then I could really check out, like naturally every movie I wanna make has my kid in it, you know what I’m saying?
07:46 SE: Yes, of course. And what I loved about the movie is that it was a father-daughter love story.
07:51 KS: Yeah.
07:52 SE: In the best, most… Like you said, it’s earnest, it’s real. She has emotions. It was like you said, it was all there and she managed to ground the story like you said.
08:04 KS: And she helped him in his performance, Jason. I’ve known Jason of course, 32 years and we’ve been making movies together for the better part of 25… Over 25, at this point since we started in technically ’93, But Clerk’s 25th anniversary is just happening right now, in October.
08:25 SE: Wonderful.
08:26 KS: 25 years. So he’s been acting for a long time, and he went from being a guy that I was like, “Just say this, just say this,” like a human puppet essentially; to a guy who could memorize lines and, “I can do this, I know how to deliver dialogue,” and stuff like that. But we were never gonna get tears out of that dude. If we cast anybody else in the world, and they were like, “I’m your long-lost daughter,” and they were bawling in front of him, he would be like, “Sucks to be you.” Like, you’re just not gonna get that connective performance. It’s just not him, it’s not who he is.
08:56 KS: Because it was the kid. Because it’s Harley who he… She grew up with him. And Harley carried a little pink elephant her entire life called Yay Yay, which was Jay, she couldn’t say “Jay” when she was a kid. So he’s seen her like me… He was maybe what, maybe fourth person to ever see this kid. I was first, caught her, and once we fucking put clothes on everybody, into the room he came as well. So he’s… The kid’s grown up with him, he’s grown up with the kid in many ways, as well.
09:21 KS: The kid’s standing across from him in a scene, crying, brought out the water works in this motherfucker, and suddenly he’s not just glassing up, his voice is cracking, and he’s doing stuff that Affleck can do well because he’s a trained professional. That was thrilling.
09:39 SE: Yeah.
09:39 KS: Seeing my friend reach a new height where it’s just like, “Shit bro, you could do dramatic acting, you just need Harley opposite you in every scene.”[chuckle]
09:47 KS: “You’ll be able to bust tears.” So it was great to even see him kind of take a jump as well, and she brought that out of him. So her instincts to play it, not comedically, to be the one serious person in all this, like really panned out.
10:03 SE: Yeah, it really did. Well done.
10:07 KS: Thank you.
10:08 SE: You’ve had such an epic career in comedy, and I wanted to know if you could talk a little bit about the origins of Jay and Silent Bob.
10:18 KS: Yeah, yeah.
10:19 SE: I wonder if Silent Bob was inspired by Harpo Marx?
10:22 KS: A little bit. Definitely. In Mallrats, when I started yanking shit out my coat. That’s a lift from Harpo Marks. Jim Jacks, who was our producer on that movie, he loved that. He was like, “You’re pulling things out of your coat like Harpo Marx.” I was like, “That’s right, you recognize that?” He’s like “I’m older than you, of course I recognize that.” Silent Bob, the origins of the character, my sister claims that it’s based on my dad, she’s like, “Dad was the same way. He never said anything, and then when he did, it was very insightful.” I guess that’s in there. Really, the character owes its life to the existence of Jason Mewes. Jay, the character of Jay, is literally just Jason Mewes at age 16.
11:03 SE: Okay.
11:04 KS: So that’s how he talked, that’s how he thought, it’s, “Snoogan, Snooch,” like that’s all him, that’s blueprint. He’s the character and stuff. So I wanted to put him in a movie. I didn’t… At first, most of our young lives. I’d be like, “You’re funny man, somebody should put you in a movie one day,” long before I ever thought about being a filmmaker. And then one day I saw Slacker, and I said, “Wait, I wanna be a filmmaker,” and so I decided, “Oh, I’m gonna put that guy in a movie. I know a guy who’s real funny.” And I always wanted to see if he was funny outside of where we lived, “Are you funny outside of Jersey? Are you New York funny, or are you just Jersey funny?”
11:37 KS: So when I knew that I wanted to include Jay, I was like, “What do I make him?” And so, there are kids that hang outside Quick Stop and RST Video, at least in the ’90s. I don’t think they do it anymore. And they’d lean on the wall. The bus would… They’d get home from school, get off the bus and they would just go lean on the wall. Some of them slung weed and stuff like that. So I said, “Oh I can make him like one of the kids who just hangs out in front of the store and give him all the funny things he ever says in real life and… ” I said, “But I don’t want him to be engaged in conversation, like Dante and Randal are dialogue driven, they need each other back and forth.”
12:17 KS: Jay felt like a monologue. Like, as my friend, he always felt like a monologue. He would get in the car and he would just start talking. So I said, “What if the one guy is there just being Jay, but he got another guy standing next to him, who’s like, technically his muscle ’cause the kids are leaning on the wall, there’s one guy selling weed and then there’s the other dude standing next to him to make sure he don’t get beat up or whatever fuck.” It was a means to an end, to be able to showcase what I thought were Jason’s talents, like all the weird shit he said.
12:50 KS: So originally it was supposed to be played by my friend Michael Belicose. Michael was in Clerks as the guy Dante goes “37? My girlfriend sucked 37 dicks” and he goes, “in a row?” That’s Michael Belicose he was supposed to be Silent Bob. I was supposed to be Randal, which is why Randal has all the best jokes. But as we got close to production, I was like, “I can’t memorize all this dialogue. Who wrote this shit?” and cast Jeff Anderson instead, who did an amazing job.
13:17 KS: But I was like, “If this is the only movie I’m gonna make, I at least wanna be in this movie.” So I was like, “What part can I play? What’s left open?” Nothing was left open, other than people walking in the store, but I said, “Wait a second, if I play Silent Bob, then, I don’t have to memorize any dialogue. Jason’s not… ” I was gonna say not an actor. None of us were actors, but at least Brian O’Halloran, and Marilyn had theater experience, right? Jason had no experience other than being class clown.
13:43 KS: So I’m like, “He’s already on the fence about this… ” I wrote the script based on everything he ever said, hand him the script, he read it. I was like, “What do you think?” He goes, “I don’t know if I could do this.” And I was like, “It’s you. How could you not do this?” So I was like, “I’ll be able to teach Jay how to be Jay.” Like, just do the things… What I’m doing is stealing from real life, so I’ll be able to communicate to him, “Do that thing we did at the mall that one time.”
14:06 KS: So I was like, “It makes sense. If I play Silent Bob, I’ll be working him like a puppet and shit, and that’s what he needs, ’cause his focus is like that of a poodle.” So I was like, “Alright, I’ll do that.” It was this weird combination of necessary evil, of no other roles are around, of ego. ‘Cause I was like, “I wanna be in this movie too. I wanna see myself in the movie.” And I had a long coat, because Sam Kinison wore a trench coat, and he was a hefty man. I was a hefty kid. And the trench coat kinda hid some of that, so I was like, “I’m gonna start wearing a trench coat.” And so, suddenly, there was a look to the character, and I just kinda went for it. And you look at the performance of Silent Bob in the movie, and its non-performance. It’s literally, just me not talking.
14:53 KS: By the time you get to Mallrats, I start getting more animated in the face, just a little bit, in key places. Chasing Amy, I get to talk. And so that just kind of takes precedence over everything else. Dogma, Jay is on fire in that movie, and I’m appreciated by association, some of my reactions. By the time we get to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, that’s when I become Harpo Marx, where, “Oh, I’m the quiet guy. I should really milk this.”
15:25 KS: And it’s not enough to just look at ’em blankly, or not say anything. You could say a bunch of things by just changing your expression. And so my eyes got wider and wider as the character grew and grew, and stuff. So by the time we get to Clerks II, which they’re not in every frame of, but they’re in, let’s say 25% of the movie – I’ve got the character down. Like, “Oh, I know how to do Silent Bob now.” And then we stopped making [15:50] ____ movies.[chuckle]
15:52 KS: So it was really nice to have that, plus then, what was it? 17 year, 2001? So 18 years from… No, well, Clerks II was 2006. So, 13 years from the last time we did it, I get to go back in. And I’ve now seen these movies to death, and I’m now self-correcting, where I’m like, “If I was ever gonna do one of these again, I wouldn’t do that. I would do this.” So same with my performance, same with his performance. So when we hit this movie… We hit the ground running on Reboot, it was like, not like, “Oh, we’re doing what we used to do.” It became this precision surgical version of what we did, because I have now time and experience, and distance. I look at Strike Back, and I love it. It’s wonderful. It’s fun.
16:46 KS: But I’m like, “Oh my God, I could have done so much better. This guy didn’t even fucking look at his hair. This guy… Look at that, my hair is all over the place.” And so Reboot was a way, not like there was anything to make up for, unless critics thought so back in the day, but it was a way to go back and make the movie again with a keen eye to detail, as a Kevin Smith fan, almost 20 years removed from the original, and still Kevin Smith himself.
17:12 KS: It put me in this weird wonderful position to be like, “Oh my God, I can make this exactly what I want it to be.” So Silent Bob started life as an excuse for Jay to say things, and then slowly became his own thing, his own performance. I’m not… I remember just recently I don’t know when this will air, but recently, Kirsten Dunst was in the press talking about, “I never get any awards. I don’t know if this business recognizes me,” or whatever, and stuff.
17:40 SE: We love her.
17:41 KS: We do. And the internet told her that, that day. And so if things felt good. But I don’t have that need for awards, and I don’t make awards pictures, and shit like that. But if I maintain in this business for another 25 years, maybe they start going, give him an honorary Oscar ’cause he’s near death, or whatever. [chuckle] And I’ll take that. That’s the only way. I won’t compete for an Oscar. That takes too much time, and talent, and I don’t have those things. But if somebody’s like, “You’ve been around long enough. For attendance, here’s an Oscar.”
18:17 SE: Alright, if anybody on the Academy is listening…
18:19 KS: You listening folks? It doesn’t have to be now, 25 years from now. But when they give me that Oscar, I am going to accept it for my Silent Bob performance, because, knowing me as you know Kevin Smith who won’t shut the fuck up, that guy playing Silent Bob, that was acting. You know what I’m saying? With all due respect to Meryl Streep.
18:44 SE: Yeah.
18:45 KS: That would be like Meryl Streep playing a man. Being something completely opposite of what she is in the real world. I’ve thought about that for years now, I’m like, “That Silent Bob… ” I used to just be like, “Oh, I just stand there and say nothing.” But now, I’m like, “No, bro. It’s acting, for you not to talk.”[chuckle]
19:02 KS: You gotta remember, I wrote Clerks wanting to play Randal. That’s who I am in my head, the guy who’s got every joke ready to go. But I wound up going, like, “I’ll shift into Silent Bob, because I don’t have to memorize dialogue. This will be easy. It will help with Jason.” It’s more functional. The same way Clerks is in black and white because we had fluorescent lights in the store, and in order to shoot color film, we would’ve had to knock out the fluorescents and bring in a separate, more expensive lighting package. And then, Dave Klein, our DP, was, “Or you shoot black and white. It don’t matter.” And I said, “There you go, black and white.” And that makes all the difference. Clerks in color, nobody cares. Clerks in black and white, fucking timeless. You know what I’m saying?
19:40 SE: For sure.
19:41 KS: It buys itself this weird authenticity, just by being in black and white. And that decision wasn’t an artistic decision, it was more financial. I was like, “I don’t wanna pay for more lights. Let’s fucking shoot under these lights instead.” The weirdest things that you’re backed into, Silent Bob was something I backed into, defined the better part of my life at this point. When we were not making movies about Jay and Silent Bob, we were able to go tour for a decade with the Jay & Silent Bob Get Old podcast, where we didn’t put on our outfits and come out and do sketches, we literally came out as ourselves and we would talk about, “Oh, we used to make those movies,” and then tell stories about Jay being an addict, or whatever was going on in our lives at that point.
20:20 KS: And suddenly, it became a brand name. Kind of like when you go to Disney… Mickey Mouse is associated with Disney, but it’s very rare that they ever make a Mickey Mouse movie. They’ll do a TV show and every once in a while a short, but he’s their corporate mascot, you know what I’m saying? He’s the guy that built the fucking place. Without Mickey, you don’t get to anything, but they’re like, “We got a lot of stories to tell. And hey, Mickey’s Mickey.” So for a minute, Jay and Silent Bob were that for us, where it’s just like, it’s an umbrella under which we stand and we don’t get wet. It protects us and shit.
20:51 KS: And so, when we were going with this movie, this movie came from a place of… For years, Jason would be like, “Can we do another Jay and Silent Bob movie?” I’d be like, “I was shocked that we’d gotten one done. It’s amazing they let us make one. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, we can’t ever do that again.” And then, he’d been clean now for 10 years, and halfway into that, five years into that long stretch of sobriety that he’s got now, that we would be doing Jay & Silent Bob Get Old, him and I got closer.
21:19 KS: We were on the road all the time doing the show, we were friends, very tight when we were young, and then the movies happened and stuff like that. And he was a part of the movies and my friend, but we weren’t super close or anything. And more often than not, he was problematic with the drug use and shit, so it was always like, “You’re my pain in the ass friend.” For the last 10 years of doing Jay & Silent Bob Get Old, he’s literally become my best friend. We share everything, we got a business together and whatnot. And he’s also matured and grown. He’s got his own kid, and that’s turned him into a real individual and whatnot, and he found his purpose in life. But he also now can walk into a comedy club and stand up and do 90 minutes. And suddenly, that’s open to him as well.
21:58 KS: So, we’ve kind of grown together. And over the course of that, he’s got this kid and I saw him with the kid, and I’m like, “This is incredible.” Jason is the guy that you would always dismiss as like, “Put that guy in charge of a human life, let alone a child? What are you, fucking nuts?” And yet, when his time came, he was the absolute best father, still is, that I’ve ever seen in my life. And I include myself in the equation, I include my father in that equation, I include the Lord Almighty God in that equation, who, if you believe in that sort of thing, also has a son. So, technically, he’s a dad. Jason Mewes beats them all. He relates to that kid, probably because emotionally, they’re on the same fucking level. She’s four, he’s 40-something. But he legit cares about the kid, and not in the way that you’re supposed to care about your kid. He’s interested in her, he’s fascinated by her. Same way I’m fascinated by my friends or like, “Well, I wanna hang out with Ben, ’cause he’s fun,” or “I wanna hang out with Jen, my wife ’cause she’s interesting.” That’s how he feels about the kid. It’s not like, “Well, I’m her parent, so of course, I’m here.” He’s like, “What’s more interesting than this fucking kid?”
23:01 KS: And he didn’t have a dad, and he never knew who his dad was, and his mom was not a good person, used him as a drug bagman and stuff. One time he got arrested, ’cause his mom would be like, “Bring this to this guy and then bring back what he gives you.” And she wouldn’t say what it was. He was too young to understand. Cops arrested him in our town. And put him in jail, nine years old. They called up his mother to be like, “We know what you’re doing, we have your son. You’re under arrest, but you need to turn yourself in and then we’ll let your son go.”
23:31 KS: And he sat in jail for a night, ’cause his mom was like, “What do I wanna do?” So, that’s how Jason was raised, and it’s a miracle that he didn’t wind up being plagued or disturbed, or something like that, broken in some weird way. Instead, he’s a very bright, sunshine-y, happy guy, always happy-go-lucky, never saw a bad movie, never read a bad comic book. And he’s this amazing parent, who’s completely dialed in. Because he didn’t have it, he made up for it.
24:01 SE: That’s great.
24:01 KS: And he became the guy. Instead of being like, “Well, I didn’t have it so it’s just gonna be fucking worse for my kid.” He was never like some Batman-type oath in the alleyway or something, of like, “I will be better, this will never happen to my kids,” it was just quietly who he was. And suddenly, you realize this is who he was put on this earth to be, this kid’s dad. So, after watching him be a dad for a couple of years, I’m like, “Go figure, you of all people.” And that’s where you’re like, “If we were gonna make a Jay and Silent Bob movie, this would be it. You finding out you’re a dad is kinda fucking dope because you are a really good fucking dad.” So, it germinates, it starts there, as a little idea.
24:42 SE: I love that that evolved organically. It was, it just makes the movie better.
24:46 KS: Well, that’s part of it. But then, it also… It’s definitely organic, but then, it also comes out of failure, repeated failure. I wanted to make Clerks 3. We came so close, we were a month out from going to Philly and shooting, right down to the fact that we had most of Creed‘s crew. Creed was gonna wrap, so we were taking their crew with us and stuff, like, “Come on, join our movie.” And then, a month out, one of the actors didn’t wanna do it and the whole thing died. So, right then and there, I was like, “Oh, man.” But one of the locations was a mall. We’d secured this closed-down mall.
25:19 KS: So I was like, “Maybe we make Mallrats 2 instead.” So then, we started pursuing that. I wrote a script, collected the cast based on… I talked to my agent and I said, “I’m thinking about Mallrats 2. Is that possible? ‘Cause I know Universal ain’t really interested in stuff.” And he goes, “Yeah.” He’s going, “Look, either Universal wants to make it, either Universal will co-finance it with you, if you wanna bring in money.” I was like, “I could find money.” He goes, “Or Universal don’t wanna do it and they just give it to you and you go make it off on your own.” I said, “That means there’s no way in which I don’t get to make a Mallrats 2.”
25:44 KS: He goes, “You’re absolutely right.” I said, “Done.” So I wrote the script, collected the cast, he turns in the script to Universal, so Universal could make sure that there’s no “fuck Universal” in the script or something like that, us defaming them. Then I get a call from my agent one week later going, “I was incorrect.” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Universal, while they’re an active motion picture studio, they think of themselves as a catalog title holding house. And in the history of the studio, they have never released any of their titles. Once they make it, it’s theirs. They have never let a title go.”
26:17 KS: So, the idea of like, “Oh, just give us Mallrats and we’ll go make a sequel.” They’re like, “That’s not gonna happen.” So, I’m like, “So I can’t make Mallrats now?” And he goes, “Well, unless they wanna do it. And guess what? They don’t wanna do it.” So, I was frustrated. We also pitched Mallrats as a series, ’cause Universal Television was like, “Let’s take it out as a series,” and I was like, “Alright, alright.” But then, that didn’t happen. And it was after I pitched it, I think to Netflix, and I went in and they’re like, “I love Mallrats.” I’m like, “Then you’re gonna love Mallrats 2,” and I pitched it, and there was just a stone reaction to me.[chuckle]
26:49 KS: And I was like, “Interesting.” And then, two hours later, my agent’s like, “They’re not into it.” And I’m like, “This is… I’m banging my head against the wall here, man. Clearly, I wanna play with my old toys.” Clearly, I wanna go back in the past. I can’t do it with Clerks, because of an unwilling participant. I can’t do it with Mallrats, ’cause I don’t own Mallrats. I own Jay and Silent Bob. Jay has been asking me for a decade when we would ever do another one of these, and I’ve been telling him, ‘never’.”
27:21 KS: And now, I’m frustrated, ’cause I can’t do the things I wanna do, and I’ve got this brilliant little fucking side-story of, like, “Mewes is funny as a dad. Fuck working harder, let’s work smarter. Here’s a guy that wants to be in a movie with me.” So, I was like, “You know what? We’re gonna lean into this.” And here’s the story. And so, Jordan, Jay’s wife, Jordan Monsanto, she runs our company, she produced her other movie with Liz Destro. She was the one that… I’m real good at like, “This is what we’re gonna do,” but I need a fucking somebody to facilitate. I’m terrible at that. Left to my own devices, nothing happens.
28:00 KS: Jordan just picked up the flag and ran with it. She was just like, “Alright.” ‘Cause she’s like, “My husband wants to make a Jay and Silent Bob movie. His best friend, my partner, wants to make a Jay and Silent Bob movie. Let’s figure out how we do it.” And we figured out. We couldn’t go into some place and be like, “Give us $10, 20 million.” We eventually got $10 million and stuff, we had to piece it together from a bunch of places. But it was never gonna have any standard, traditional release because our time has passed. We’re incredibly irrelevant to most of the world. There’s a small audience who’s been following us forever. It’s like, “I would like to… A Jay and Bob sequel that makes fun of sequels and remakes and reboots? You have my attention.”
28:34 KS: From the moment we started talking about the idea out in the world publicly, there seemed to be interest. Not enough to be like, “We’re back, turn on the money engines and shit.” That’d be irresponsible. No movie I made has ever made more than 30 million bucks, and that was in my heyday, when people were like, “Hey, we know who you are and shit.” If we’re gonna go back into the past and be self-indulgent and take a trip in the past, you just rein it in. Just, how much can we do it for and stuff? We got the script down to as bare minimum as we can, reached out to these cats. Thankfully, Jonathan and Ness love Strike Back. They were like, “Oh my God, we grew up watching that movie.” So, I’m like, “Right. We got one partner and shit.”
29:13 KS: I sat in this room, this very room, two years ago and change, and talk to those cats. And about, like, “Could you imagine if we did this?” And we did it. It took that long.
29:22 SE: And this room is the Saban offices.
29:24 KS: We’re in the Saban offices right here. Then, we found a little more money from Universal overseas, ’cause they’re like, “We’ll take it overseas and stuff like that.” So, boom, there was some money there, but not enough, so you gotta find some equity finance, and we found some of that, and stuff like that. People were like, “I grew up with these movies and stuff.” Those are the people that you have to pay back. You don’t have to pay back Saban, you hope Saban make some money back and stuff, and we do our best to ensure that. You don’t have to pay back to Universal, ’cause they’re actually walking away with something at the end of the day. “We own this movie in perpetuity and stuff.” But the equity investors, they’re the people that put money into the movie expecting to get money back out of the movie, and hopefully, maybe they make a little interest on, or make a little bit on their money. But the way this business is, that really doesn’t happen. People put in equity, and they don’t get their money back. And if they do, it’s five, 10 years down the road and stuff. So, being that we live on the road doing live podcasting anyway, my thing was like, “Alright, we wanna do a Jay and Silent Bob movie. Let’s make it as easy as possible on all of us and stuff.”
30:22 KS: We already tour. People are already sitting around, paying $50-100 to watch me and Jason talk about the old movies that we’re not even showing. Just like, “Hey, remember Clerks and shit?” And then, talk about the rest of our day. I was like, “There’s no way on Earth they wouldn’t be even happier and pay the exact same price if we show up with a brand new movie.” So suddenly, you’re like, “Okay, if we tour for 60 days, which is what we’re gonna do, that pays back our equity investors just like that. If we started the movie in February,” which we did, “by the time we get to February 2020, all of our equity investors are paid back.”
30:53 SE: Amazing.
30:53 KS: That means we get to live to fight another day. If I wanna go to them and be like, “I got another idea,” I got money now. You know what it is I’m saying? And at the very end, I know if nobody wanted to give me loot, that’s how I started, I’ll finance it myself. I got my own credit cards and shit like that. I have the ability as the storyteller to bring the belt in, cinch it real tight to make it a budget that’s reachable and stuff.
31:18 KS: And so, for us, we reverse engineered it. It was like, “Alright, well, this is what we’re gonna do, so let’s make it as easy as possible, not some uphill battle, not something that’s gonna die in development or live there for two years and stuff.” And then, the heart attack really sped things up, ’cause it was like, “Now, I almost died. Fuck it. We have to make this movie, because I almost dropped dead and my last movie would have been Yoga Hosers. We can’t fucking have that.”[laughter]
31:47 KS: “It has to be something better.” And so, that made the movie better, because suddenly, the post-heart attack movie wasn’t just like, “Oh, we’re gonna make a movie that makes fun of sequels and remakes and reboots, and it’s kind of about how Jay is a dad now.” Suddenly, it was like, “This movie has to stand as my testimony, in case the heart attack comes back and I drop dead,” so that I’m not laying on a table going, “Doc, you gotta save me, Yoga Hosers can’t be the last movie I made.” I literally said out loud, I was like, “Goddammit, I wish we’d made Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”
32:17 KS: And the doctor goes, “Why?” I was like, “Because Yoga Hosers is the last movie I made.” He didn’t understand it. He’s like, “I don’t know any of these movies.” I was like, “Trust me, if you did, you’d understand what I’m saying.” So, Reboot became this mission to create a memorial to oneself, a look back at my entire body of work and my life. So we chronicle the movies, we chronicle the podcast, my wife’s in the movie, my kid’s in the movie, his wife is in the movie, his kid is in the movie. It’s a big family affair that, when it’s done, can stand as a gravestone. And I’m not saying that in a morbid, shitty way. But when you’ve been as close as me, suddenly you’re like, “Oh, it’s a factor,” and you stop dealing with it as an intangible, “Well, one day,” as an inevitability and shit.
33:03 KS: So now, I’m like… It’s not quite a Scrooge thing where I woke up and I was like, “Go buy me a goose and shit. I’ve changed my ways.” But I did come out of that heart attack going, like, “Whatever I’m working on has to stand as the last thing, now knowing that I got a weak ticker and shit like that.” So, suddenly, Reboot becomes, “This is who I am.” It becomes a masterpiece, and not a masterpiece going, “This is the greatest movie ever made.”
33:29 KS: Masterpiece in the way that when you were an apprentice and you served under a master and you learned everything about how to be a tinker or whatnot, and then one day, 10 years in, you presented your masterpiece to say, “This is what I’ve learned.” That’s what this movie is. This is what I’ve learned in 25 years of being a filmmaker. This is what I’ve learned in 49 years of being a person, put up on the screen. I hope you’ll like it. I hope you find it funny. Surprise, you might roll a fucking tear in a Jay and Silent Bob movie. That, to me, is the thing I’m the proudest of. That’s the magic trick.
34:00 SE: You should be very proud.
34:01 KS: Only way someone should be crying in a Jay and Silent Bob movie is if they’re like, “He dropped the ball and fucked it up. Why did he make it? It’s bad.” But there’s moments in this movie where you’re gonna catch a fucking lump in your throat, even if you don’t have a kid. If you have a kid, you’re fucked. But if you’re someone’s kid, and we all are, it’s gonna hit you. I love how warm and wonderful the movie is, especially compared to what Clerks 3 would have been, which was a movie obsessed with death and dying, a middle-age movie, and that was before I had a heart attack.
34:33 KS: Then I almost died and I was like, “I never wanna talk about fucking death. All I wanna talk about is life and fucking being above ground and shit.” So, it informed the movie and made it better. It also made it easier to cast, because suddenly, you were reaching out to people being like, “Hey man, can you come down to New Orleans, be in Reboot?” They’re like, “I don’t know, man. New Orleans, that’s far.” And you’d be like, “Bro, you remember I almost fucking died last year?” And they’re like, “Alright I’m fucking coming. I’m on my way”. And then, they would fucking show up. So, it all elevated the movie. Not only did the heart attack help me cast the movie, but it helped me make a better movie. That movie is better than it would have been if we’d made it two years ago.
35:06 KS: ‘Cause it was informed by current life experience and stuff. And so now, going forward, now I’m working on the Netflix show for Mattel – Masters of the Universe. We’re revamping the cartoon; comes back next year. Now, as we do this, even I’m like, “Alright, this could be it. This could be the last fucking thing. This is the thing you might be working on when you die, so you gotta make sure it stands as a final testimony for who you are.”
35:30 KS: And so, it won’t be quite the testimony that Reboot is. Reboot is a movie that’s so grossly Kevin Smith, that not only am I in every frame as Silent Bob, when I’m not, I’m in it as Kevin Smith. And when I’m not, and I’m always there, I’m in it as Kevin Smith the third time, ’cause that’s who Ben is playing. So, that’s the character closest to me. The movie is just infected with me. And if we’d made it before the heart attack, everybody would have shit on me for it, like, “Eww, he loves himself so much.” But post-heart attack, they might let me get away with it. They might be like, “Well, he did live”.
36:03 SE: Well, I wish you the absolute best of luck.
36:06 KS: Thank you.
36:06 SE: Everybody should go see this movie. Again, it’s hilarious. I laughed from beginning to end except for that moment where I did have the lump in my throat.
36:14 KS: Isn’t it great like that? I love that. I love making people laugh. But in 25 years, that part I know how to do. The touching people, and that sounds weird, in this Me Too movement, you can’t say “touching people”. But getting to people’s hearts, the feels, that’s something that you don’t necessarily associate me with, ’cause most people go, “Oh, him? Clerks.” But you forget that Chasing Amy was a feels machine and stuff like that. So, this movie feels less like Jay and… It feels like an amalgam between Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II, the growth and the heart and shit like that. A movie that’s not afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve, but it has the job of being like, “We are a comedy, so we’re gonna stick to that blueprint as well.” Thank you for liking it, man.
37:00 SE: Thank you so much.
37:01 KS: Perfect.
37:03 SE: If you wanna see Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, you can catch it on October 15th or 17th, in 600 theaters around the country. Visit fathomevents.com/reboot to get your tickets. That’s fathomevents, F-A-T-H-O-M-E-V-E-N-T-S.com/reboot.
Shanee Edwards graduated from UCLA Film School with an MFA in Screenwriting and is currently the film critic for SheKnows.com. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her pilot, Ada and the Machine, is currently in development with America Ferrera’s Take Fountain Productions. You can follow her on Twitter: @ShaneeEdwards