Smith blabs about making
movies, retiring characters
By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff
Photo courtesy of Buena
Filmmaker Kevin Smith says
he will retire the characters Jay (right, played by Jason Mewes) and Silent
Bob (left, played by Smith).
If this sounds familiar to you at all,
you're probably quite well acquainted with the work of Kevin Smith, the
writer and director of Clerks, Mallrats,
Chasing Amy and Dogma. Smith's latest
project, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is set for video and DVD release
The characters Jay and Silent Bob made
their first appearance in 1994's Clerks as a pair of losers — one garrulous,
one stoic — who hang around
outside a convenience store all day, selling
marijuana. Their roles didn't change much throughout Smith's next films,
although they had a stint as
unlikely messengers of God in Dogma.
Dogma and Chasing Amy tackled weighty topics
— love, sex, the nature of God. Jay and Silent Bob is a farewell to the
array of characters Smith has
employed in all his films, and as such,
it's fitting that it's less serious — a "balls-to-the-wall comedy," as
Smith puts it.
Its plot follows Jay and Silent Bob as
they head to Hollywood to stop Miramax from making a film about them. There
are a lot of madcap capers on the
way, including a stolen monkey, an ineffectual
wildlife marshal in the form of Will Farrell, a team of young female jewel
thieves in latex cat suits and
Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine."
When it was released in theaters, the film
was a disappointment to some who had grown accustomed to Smith's traditionally
dialogue-driven humor. Much of Jay and
Silent Bob is sight gags and silliness, but in that context it's a triumph.
"Jay and Bob was a very, very fun movie
to make," Smith said in a recent telephone interview. "Clerks was a lot
of fun too, 'cause we didn't know what
we were doing." Clerks, of course, became
an unlikely success story — it was filmed for less than $30,000 and ended
up a runaway hit. Nonetheless,
"my job is the same for all movies," Smith
said. "Write the script, rehearse the actors ... I can't say it's better
to have money than to not have money."
The man who plays Silent Bob is surprisingly
talkative in real life — low-key, sarcastic, good-natured and funny. When
one reporter asked what
religion he would be if he weren't Catholic,
Smith replied without missing a beat, "Satanists. They seem to get laid
a lot." And he said what else he
hopes to achieve now that fame and fortune
have come to him is: "Immortality. I really don't want to die."
Despite the cult following Smith has amassed
with Jay, Silent Bob and the rest of the New Jersey "View Askewniverse,"
he says "there will never be
another Jay and Silent Bob movie." Smith
explained this burn-out-not-fade-away mentality as an attempt to "leave
the party before you're the last one
there. I didn't want to be Pauly Shore,
The characters may not return, but some
of the actors will. Smith has been prolific in his praise of Jason Mewes,
who plays Jay. When asked if he'd be
working with Mewes in the future, Smith
said he hoped so.
"When he gets his personal life sorted
out, it'll be easier," Smith said, adding that Mewes will portray Jay once
more in the coming Clerks animated
Smith himself, however, has no plans to
act again. "No, never again. I'm done acting, particularly in my movies,"
For someone who's become somewhat of a
stoner icon — he's graced the cover of High Times, and his powers with
the highly experimental "bong
saber" are highlighted in Jay and Silent
Bob — Smith says he's "not a big drug guy" in real life. "I'm not really
a big weed guy," he said. "I can probably
count on two hands the number of times
I've smoked pot."
Nonetheless, "I say legalize all the (bleepin')
drugs," Smith said. "People are throwing their lives away on 'em anyway
... I think it would be great if you
could walk into the Rite Aid and pick
Despite his household-name status, Smith
remains a down-to-earth sort of guy, with a wife, a child and a comic book
store in New Jersey (Jay and
Silent Bob's Secret Stash).
And popularity hasn't swelled his head.
Smith does tours of college campuses nearly every year, so watch for him
at a university near you.