INTERVIEW: Kevin Smith Strikes Back
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE/ 08.30.01) — Kevin Smith is back in theaters with another adventure in the saga of New Jersey stoners Jay and Silent Bob. The film was a hit with audiences when it opened over the weekend, garnering more than $11 million at the box office in its first three days of release, while critical responses were as mixed as ever for a new Kevin Smith movie.
The story begins once Jay and Bob go online (www.moviepoopshoot.com) and discover that the Internet is full of information about them — a lot of it not very flattering. Determined to stop the production of Miramax‘s film adaptation of “Bluntman and Chronic” (a comic book about their lives made famous in “Chasing Amy“) the duo decide to take a trip to Hollywood. Along the way, comedy ensues.
“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” unites and re-unites characters from all of Smith’s films, with a sprinkling of striking cameos, including Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. It is filled with digs at Hollywood and The Biz, not to mention a steady stream of gay-themed jokes and situations that got under the collar of the folks at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
As a way of catching up with the writer/director who became a poster child for indie filmmaking when he sold his first movie to Miramax in 1994, I invited Smith to participate in an email interview. The following are his responses to my questions, as written by him and returned via email this week.
In our conversation, he discusses the new movie, the outcry from GLAAD, “Star Wars,” his next flick, the new Miramax, and upcoming films that he is anticipating.
indieWIRE: I was just visiting a Kevin Smith/”Clerks”-“MallRats” “Chasing Amy” fan site. What do you make of the volumes of commentary and trivia out there on the Internet about you, your movies and the characters?
Kevin Smith: It’s incredibly flattering, and really ironic. I grew up quoting “Fletch” and “Raising Arizona,” and now people quote the flicks I’ve done back to me. Weird, but nice.
iW: The new movie is another chapter in what was previously dubbed your “New Jersey Trilogy”: what inspired you to return to the Quick Stop?
Smith: The bottom of the barrel needed scraping.
iW: Any concerns about reviving Jay and Silent Bob?
Smith: Reviving? They were never dormant.
iW: I am sure that Mewes didn’t complain?
Smith: Nary a complaint from Mewes, and nary a complaint from me. If I had any balls whatsoever, I’d make nothing but Jay and Silent Bob flicks for the rest of my life. However, being a critical whore, I’ve gotta move on and “grow” beyond those characters. But no matter what I wind up making in the future, a part of me will always yearn to make another flick with Jay and Bob.
iW: You’ve reacted to the complaints from GLAAD and now also written a check to the Matthew Shepard foundation, but did you see any validity in the concerns about the number of gay jokes and references in the movie?
Smith: Nope. The movie’s chock full of gay jokes, but none are at the expense of the gay community. That’s the important difference.
iW: When you wrote the script did you imagine that organizations like GLAAD might interpret the film in this way?
Smith: Never once.
iW: What do you think of the title to the new Star Wars, “Attack of the Clones”?
Smith: I think folks will just wind up calling it ‘Episode Two’.
iW: How many times did you see “Episode I”?
Smith: Twice in the theaters.
iW: And what did you think of it?
Smith: I dug it. But then, I didn’t go in thinking the flick would invoke the same warm feelings the first three did when I was a kid. I mean, I’m an adult now.
iW: Have you seen the version on the net in which some fans altered the film to change Jar Jar’s voice and add subtitles?
Smith: No. What a strange use of free time.
iW: Can you even believe that you got to direct a light saber fight scene?
Smith: Never mind that; can you believe I was in a light saber fight scene? Me? That was something of a thrill to watch, once it was all put together with the digital effects and all.
iW: I read, on some fan site, that your next project is inspired by you being a Dad.
Smith: To some degree, yes.
iW: I assume you have enjoyed the experience so far?
Smith: So far, so good.
iW: Can you talk a little bit about what the new movie will be about?
Smith: Too early. I can say that it’s closer in tone to “Chasing Amy” than anything else we’ve done to date.
iW: Do you have cast and/or a shoot date in a mind yet?
Smith: I think we’re aiming to start in March. Cast-wise, I just know it’s going to be Affleck right now.
iW: You’ve joked that you are more of a writer than a director.
Smith: Joked? I’m serious about that.
iW: Are there any projects that you are writing for someone else to direct?
Smith: Not right now.
iW: As Miramax has gotten bigger and bigger, your own movies have gained more and more attention. This new film, which is being released by Miramax’ more mainstream arm, is being marketed very broadly. Any thoughts on how Miramax has changed or about the types of films it is releasing?
Smith: They’re certainly going more mainstream lately, aren’t they? I don’t think the current Miramax would’ve picked up “Clerks” had we been shopping it today. I’m just glad we got our foot in the door before they shifted from an acquisitions house to a development and production studio.
That’s why Scott [Mosier] and I gravitated toward Dimension for “Jay and Silent Bob.” It just felt more like a Dimension flick — very genre-oriented. There’s nothing classy about it, and Miramax, to me, is still a classy imprint. So we crossed the hall to Bob’s side of the company, where a movie like “Jay and Silent Bob” isn’t going to sully the company’s reputation.
iW: Will they be involved with your new movie?
Smith: Of course. It’ll be a Miramax flick all the way.
iW: Your email address is not exactly hidden — what are some of the more interesting comments or emails that you’ve received from fans or detractors?
Smith: They’re all generally very sweet. Can’t think of any that’ve ever been hostile or cruel.
iW: Lastly, even though you are a Dad now, do you still get a chance to check out new movies?
Smith: All the time.
iW: Any recent directors or movies you’d care to mention as particularly notable or interesting.
Smith: I really dug ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ earlier this year. Also dug the experience of going to see “Ghost World” at the Laemmle Sunset Five. Loved watching the trailers beforehand, as they all had a DIY feel.
iW: What are some of the movies that you are most anticipating?
Smith: “Gangs of New York,” “Vanilla Sky,” and “L.I.E.“
iW: Well, thanks Kevin. I appreciate it.
Smith: No prob.
iW: Listen, I was wasting time online and just checked out the comic book
story that you did for The New York Times Magazine. It was sincerely
Smith: It was, wasn’t it? I kinda dug it.
iW: Nice job.
iW: (the fashion part was a little weird, but whatever)