Interview : Kevin Smith talks Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

If there’s a time for nostalgia viewing, for reminiscing of a time when Comic Con fans could squeeze together in ballrooms and hallways of ballrooms, when films were filming and planes were flying, when road trips were dangerous only when you’d been commandeered by a group of teenage girls – this is it, and the film is “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”.

I got the chance to speak with Kevin Smith when he was on the road (remember that?), booking out mass gatherings (remember those?) to watch the film in the cinema (remember people?).

But while the world may be vastly different from the three months from which we spoke, thankfully some things stay the same: namely, “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” is out on DVD and Blu-ray 17 June 2020.

In “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”, the stoner icons who first hit the screen 25 years ago in “Clerks” are back. When Jay and Silent Bob discover that Hollywood is rebooting an old movie based on them, the clueless duo embark on another cross-country mission to stop it all over again.

I chatted with Kevin about getting emotional with Jason Mewes, reuniting with Ben Affleck, and presciently, how no one wants to focus on the present.

How’s the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Roadshow going?

Kevin: It’s a lot of travel in the car, but you get to a place and it’s all love. People ask me, “What’s it like?” I tell them, “It’s like going to church where I’m both the priest and Jesus every night. It’s kind of an easy way to go to work.” But the time on the road can take a little bit out of you.

So, you’ve watched the film with a lot of audiences now, is anything that surprises you when you’re watching it with them?

Kevin: Regionally, there are places that react to things that not everyone reacts to, like, there’s a joke about Oregon. We were in Oregon twice and that played through the roof as you might imagine. No, I have to warn the audience before we start that they may be punched squarely in what the kids these days call the “feels”. Because they may roll a tear in a scene or two in a Jay and Silent Bob movie, go figure. I give them that heads up just because the first two or three shows on the tour people were like, “You didn’t tell me that we were going to cry.” I’m like, “Oh, shit.” It can get emotional toward the end. Just as long as you’re not crying because it’s bad, “Oh, God, he’s terrible.” [laughs].

Given the reception, I don’t think that’s the case. Speaking of I mean, it’s a really fantastic performance from Jason Mewes and obviously this is very different side of Jay than we’ve seen before. Did that surprise you?

Kevin: It didn’t surprise me as much. I’ve spent like 30 years standing next to him professionally and personally. So, I know kind of what he’s capable of and stuff. I know he’s capable of more than we ever gave him to do, but the older we get, the stronger he becomes as a performer and more importantly, now he is a dad. I always take the character of Jay more from Jason Mewes’ life than anything else. Just like his character in the movie, he didn’t know who his dad was. He wound up being this incredible father in real life. His daughter Logan is, let me see, four and a half at this point.

Every kid, of course, loves their parents and believe they hung the moon but this kid more so than most, I mean, we all love Jason. We’ve loved him in movies for 25 years. Imagine if you had him 24/7, 365, your own personal Jason Mewes’ show. He’s already working at all sorts of kiddy material like snoochie boochie and stuff like that. He’s great around kids. It stands to reason that when he became a dad, he would be so fucking good at being a dad.

I wish he had been a dad before I was a dad because I would have learned how to do it better. I just thought my job is like, I got a kid. I got to keep her alive. Jason kind of sees his kid as like, “Oh, look, my best friend has been living in my balls my whole life. She’s just here now.” She’s four and a half. He’s 45. They somehow meet at the exact same maturity level. Because of them I was able to kind of write that into the character. He grew up with Harley [Kevin Smith’s daughter] or rather Harley grew up with him. Harley’s known Jason’s since she popped out the sheet. So, she’s very tight with him.

When he was standing across from her and she’s crying in the movie as part of the character Melly, Jason, takes that personally. He was moved because it’s like, “Oh, my God, it’s early and she’s crying.” Then he winds up getting pretty emotional and we get a performance beat out of him that we’ve never gotten before. So, it was pretty magical. The kid was like a secret weapon.

Is that the next Jay and Silent Bob film – they give parenting tips? Jay and Silent Bob and a Baby?

Kevin: Yeah, exactly. I mean, this is a parenting movie. If we ever do another one of these then it’ll be grandparenting. We figured, since my kid playing his kid at age 19 then all we have to do is wait another 15 years and then Logan who plays Holden’s kid in the movie, she can play Jay’s, granddaughter, Hayley’s daughter. Then we can go on one more adventure – try to stop us making a movie one more time [laughs].

I believe it. I believe it. Speaking of the reboot concept, I was reading that it kind of came about because of holdups with “Clerks III” and “Mallrats II”, but it does make a lot of sense given this era of reboots, franchise, sequels, everything. You were way ahead of your time – you were on to the comic book stuff before everyone and so it only seems fitting that you do the reboot angle. What is it about the nostalgia that people are really responding to at the moment, do you think?

Kevin: I think right about now, more so than ever in the last, I don’t know, I’ve been around here 49 years, people would rather look backwards than forwards. They certainly don’t want to look into the present. The present is forming them out. So, a lot of people are kind of looking back to a simpler time and by now that simpler time, ironically, is the ‘90s. So, for my generation, you got a bunch of kids who are looking back to the same era we made these movies, but it’s comfort. It’s like in a very uncertain world, where the President is what he is and the kind of future we face is difficult to get one’s head around. There’s always comfort in the past and nostalgia.

I think a highlight for me was definitely the mini “Chasing Amy” film you had in there because I didn’t really expect to see where that story might go. But I understand it came about pretty last minute and you pulled it together really quickly?

Kevin: Yeah, we didn’t have that scene at all. I hadn’t spoken to Ben [Affleck] in like 10 years, so I really didn’t expect that he would come out to play with us – so much so that I didn’t write his character into the movie. Kevin McCarthy is a wonderful critic, movie critic who works out of Washington DC. He goes on all the junkets and stuff like that, and when he’s interviewing somebody who’s been in one of our movies, he generally asks a View Askew question or a question about having been on our movies so he’ll get a reaction.

Like, case and point, he interviewed Matt [Damon] and he’ll be like, “Hey, why don’t they go and make Good Will Hunting II: Hunting Season”? And Matt’s like, “What are you talking about?” Then he’ll realise  “Oh, yeah, from that movie.” It’s a wonderful interview technique. He did it to Ben while we were in production on the movie on the third week. He interviewed Ben for a movie that was on Netflix called “Triple Frontier”. So, he asked Ben, “Hey, man, they’re making “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” right now. You going to be in it?” Ben was like, “No, nobody’s called me and I’m not busy.”

At that point, everyone in production was like, “You’ve got to call, they said nobody called him.” So, I reached out to him. First, I was going to tweet him but then Jordan, who’s Jason’s wife, she produced the movie. She produced his kid. She produces his entire life. She’s always the adult in the room and she was like, “Don’t tweet him. That’s so tacky.” Like, “Just text him.” I’m like, “I haven’t written him in years, I don’t even know if I got a number that still works.” She goes, “Just try. Just pick a number and try.”

So, I pick one of the numbers that was in my phone and texted him and it worked. We start talking and bam, he was in. He came out so I got to write that scene at the very last minute. It’s so weird because when we shot it, I wrote it in the last week of production  and we shot it the last day of production. Yet, when you watch the movie, it’s like him being the heart of the movie. You’re like, “How the fuck does this movie exist without it?” And yet it existed without it for a long, long time.

It’s a fantastic addition and speaking of you being ahead of your time, the Alyssa Jones character from “Chasing Amy” I feel like was such a groundbreaking character. Is that something that Joey [Lauren Adams] is proud to have represented?

Kevin: Very much so. So much so that — she’s the architect of her character. Without Joey there’s no Alyssa Jones at all, let alone a “Chasing Amy”. So, when I knew that Ben was going to be involved, I was like, “Hey, can I reach out to Joey too?” He was like, “Oh, yeah, get Adams.” So, I reached out to Joey and I was like, “Hey, how would you like to do mini Chasing Amy sequel in the middle of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot?” She’s like, “How are you going to do that without Ben?” I was like, “Ben’s coming.” She was like, “No way.”

She said, “But Kevin, I know you’re a romantic at heart. You’re going to want to put these two together.” But she’s like, “I am on the front lines with Alyssa Jones every day of my life. I meet women who grew up and their only connection to LGBTQI was Alyssa Jones. You’ve got to treat the characters so carefully.” Like, “Don’t let them be a couple.”

I was like, I’m not, I got something else for it. But I like the idea, like their relationship yielded this kid. Obviously, not in traditional means but instead, they’re all so close that they were like, “All right, why not Holden can be the dad?” Makes me so happy for that character because when you think about Ben’s character Holden in “Chasing Amy”, there’s no way that dude could have been in the relationship that he is in “Reboot” – as a dad with Alyssa, but Alyssa already has a partner. He grew and that was one of the things I kind of dig about that scene in the movie is watching him grow and he couldn’t have grown without her.

He was right. Alyssa was like the most important person he ever met. Joey embodied that character. So, when she came back to play it, we were in New Orleans and went to say hi in the trailer. I said, “See all these trucks. Look at all these people. Everyone has gathered here in New Orleans today just because you and I met years ago.” And she was like “How high are you right now?”. It was absolutely wonderful.

Having them both come back allowed me to kind of like not only equalize one of my favorite films but also update it a little bit. We didn’t get to say cis white male in “Chasing Amy”, but we did in “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”.

And finally, “Mallrats II” – will Ben be in that as well?

Kevin: Oh, I hope so. I mean I’ll ask him when the time comes. It’s just whether he’s got the free time to jump out. That would be lovely. But, you know, him coming back for Holden [in “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”] is super special because that character is super special. I don’t know if I’m like ‘hey man, it’s “Mallrats”, want to come back for Shannon Hamilton?’ he’ll be like, ‘no.’ [laughs]. But we’ll see.”

Haha, fair enough. I hope it all comes together and thank you so much for talking to me today. We’re big fans out here at Moviehole. 

Kevin: Oh, my God, thank you so much. I love Moviehole, thank you.

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