It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Kevin Smith turned Hollywood upside down; first with Clerks and then a series of mostly comic adventures. Two characters that had bit parts in the early moves were two shady characters know as Jay and Silent Bob, portrayed by Jason Mewes and Smith, himself. The two characters are a couple of local pot dealers with Jay an obnoxious over the top persona while Silent Bob lives up to his name and rarely talks communicating through facial gestures hand gestures. Clerks was followed by Mallrats, Chasing Amy in Smith’s View Askewniverse and in each movie Jay and Silent Bob got a little more screen time acting as comic relief in and of themselves. Jay and Silent Bob were Generation X’s version of Cheech and Chong, a hilarious comic duo totally in sync with each other most of the time. It all culminated with 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back that saw Mewes and Smith take center stage in the film and proved to be one of the best buddy road movies reminiscent of the old Bob Hope Bing Crosby adventures from the golden age of movies. Fast forward to 2019 with the exception of Clerks II we haven’t heard much from Jay and Silent Bob. The recently released Jay and Silent Bob Reboot sees the dynamic duo at it again as they lampoon pop culture and trends much like the original. To make matter even better, Smith and Mewes have taken to the road themselves traveling to different cities for a showing of the movie and animated discussion with the movie’s two stars. Mewes, the over the top linguist took time from his never-ending road trip to talk all things Jay and Silent Bob.
Did you ever think when you were doing Clerks you’d be doing all these early morning interviews?
(laughs) No way. Not after Clerks or Mallrats. I still went back home to Minnesota and did construction and delivered pizza and stuff. Clerks we did, a bunch of us were friends and after Kevin sold it they gave us a little bit of money, but it wasn’t a whole lot. And then Mallrats after taxes and stuff wasn’t that much. And then Chasing Amy I was only one day on there. So, three movies in the span of four years; maybe after taxes I cleared like ten grand or something, so I still had to work and everything. People really didn’t start saying stuff. After Mallrats came out on DVD, it really wasn’t until then that people on the street were like, “Hey, aren’t you in that movie Mallrats?” – and stuff like that. I definitely did not think after Clerks, but even all the way up to Dogma that people started knowing the characters and talking about the characters in the movies and all that stuff.
You were just a teen when Clerks was filmed. Did you think at some point this could be a full-time gig for you?
Not really. I had done four of Kevin’s movies and two independent movies; Vulgar and Drawing Flies. I was like, “Well, I’ve done six movies – maybe I can do this as a living.” It was a while before that a: I’d be doing interviews and b: That I’d be doing this for a living.
I read an early interview with you. One of the things your character is famous for is your long hair. You were asked if you would ever cut your hair. You answered that you would if the price is right and the right role. You’ve since cut your hair. Were there any emotional ties the first time you cut off your long hair?
Yeah. A hundred percent. The first time I cut it off it was right after Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back. I had to cut my hair because I went to rehab, actually. They made you cut your hair. I didn’t have a choice. I was a little concerned since it had been so many years with me having long hair. I was just more worried and concerned about, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m going to look like with short hair. I was a little concerned about that. It was more so how I was going to look and everything. It’s all weird not having my long hair and I felt that I looked way different – especially the first time I cut it. It’s just a weird thing to say, but when the girl cut my hair really short, she cut my hair really tight around my ears, which made my face look weird. And after I figured out what was wrong – because I can’t grow sideburns. So when she cut tight and short around my ears I looked really weird. Now you know, honestly as I’m older now if we weren’t doing this movie – we’re supposed to be doing Clerks III and that was the first mention of us playing the characters again which was about two and a half years ago maybe – maybe three. Right around that time was when I started thinking about cutting my hair. I talked to my wife about it, Kevin. But he’s like, “Please don’t cut it. I really want to do another View Askview movie and I’m going to try and do Clerks. And then we were in motion to doing Clerks and then Clerks fell through because Jeff Anderson didn’t want to do it. I’m not sure why, but for some reason he didn’t want to do it. Then Mallrats was going to happen. He said, “Still don’t cut your hair because we’re gonna do Jay and Silent Bob and Mallrats. Universal didn’t want us to do Mallrats. And Kevin says, “Why are we fighting? We don’t own the rights to Mallrats and Jeff didn’t want to do Clerks but you and I both want to do a movie and we own the rights to Jay and Silent Bob. Let’s do Jay and Silent Bob. I have a great idea for a story for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot”, which is what he started writing. So yeah, the first time was a little weird, but now I got it short and I like it short. I’m ready to get back to short hair now. It’s funny, because even my kid doesn’t want me to cut my hair now. She’s four and a half years old. I said, “Logan I’m going to cut my hair.” And she said, “No! I want your hair long.” She likes that her hair and my hair are long. It’s funny I’m now hesitant because she doesn’t want me to cut my hair.
The characters Jay and Silent Bob have become very iconic. In a lot of movies you play pretty much the same character or do cameos on TV as such. Often when someone creates an iconic character – take for example Adam West as Batman they have to worry about being typecast. Was that ever a concern for you?
Yeah, definitely. If you go watch a movie I directed – I have my own movie that I played in and directed called Madness In the Method and I sort of touched on that a little. I think more so when we first started. I think right around Dogma I realized I could be doing this as a living. I went out and got headshots, got a manager, an agent and do the whole thing and go out for movies and such. And I definitely think then back then people when my agent was like, “Does he still have long hair?” And then they put me on these auditions and meetings with directors and stuff. It was always this slapsticky stoner character. And that was all the roles I was getting offered – which is fine, but at the same time there’s not enough movies out there to keep me going. I started getting worried in the beginning. I got offered to do a different character; a more serious role in a movie called K-11 and then another movie called The Last Godfather were I played a mobster. It was a comedy but I played a mobster. In the beginning, definitely being singled out as a stoner/slapstick character, but the cool thing is over the years people are starting to see me and offer me the opportunities. Not so much now.
Madness In the Method was your directoral debut. I noticed Kevin was in the movie with you. What was it like getting to boss him around for a change on set?
It was nice. It was awkward because I’m still used to him doing his thing. But the cool thing is, because he and I are still close, he was excited for me. At first he messed around and said, “No, do it this way.” He didn’t say anything. He didn’t debate anything with me. He just wanted to let me do what I was going to do and you could actually see him be a part of that. It was nice. It was cool that he really got into it for me. He just let me do what I wanted to do and that was really nice.
In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back you guys had an adversarial relationship with the internet. Since that time social media was born. How do Jay and Silent Bob react/interact with social media?
When you see the movie it’s super clever. The whole script is throwback to all the other movies – A. B – bringing in social media, emojis and everything that is wrong with Millennials and the whole social media. Kevin utilized everything of this day and age that you can. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but he’s literally thrown in a little of everything – social media, emojis – anything you could think of. He throws a little bit of all that in it.
In the View Askewniverse as lot of A-list actors were a part of it like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Jason Lee for example, but it always seems like everyone always gravitated to the characters Jay and Silent Bob most. Why is that?
Kevin is clever in utilizing everyone’s part. Ben’s in the movie for example. He also uses Ben as Holden [McNeil]. Don’t get me wrong; I think that Ben stole the scene. They tend to steal that scene from themselves with Jay and Silent Bob taking over the whole thing. It’s just Kevin able to combine everything in the universe and combine everyone’s strengths I feel like for everything. I just think Jay and Bob is about Jay finding out he’s a dad and that steals the whole movie, but also each person. Chris Jericho is super funny in that scene and steals the scene, but then Ben plays Holden and he’s awesome in that scene – Jason Lee and everybody. Kevin is able to take each person and able to use their strengths whether he’s using them as characters from the older movies that people are going to love to see again or somebody new like Chris Hemsworth that talks about Thor and this and that. It’s awesome.
Let me ask you about Bluntman and Chronic. Outside of those two characters have there been any comic book hero movies that disappointed you?
Never. No comic book movies can disappoint to be honest with you. This day and age the comic book animated movies that come out – the TV shows that come out – all the CW shows: again don’t get me wrong I know some shows are not as strong as the other ones. 25 years ago when I got into comics, I was a comic book fan and I went to Comic-Cons and the only people there were straight up comic book nerds, if you will. Now it’s like everyone knows the comic book universe. It’s awesome to see where movies have gone with the technology. You go to Comic-Con now there are people from all walks of life and ages and everything. No lie. When we used to go to Cons it was very typical, “Hey man, have you seen Batman #6?” Now it’s like 25-year-old beautiful men and women. It’s just awesome, man. For me it’s awesome that they have it and are willing to spend money to try to make Legends of Tomorrow, Flash, Arrow – all that stuff is so amazing to me. Almost every day of the week you can watch a different comic book show. Teen Titans – Batwoman just came out. Watchman. It’s awesome stuff. I guess the answer is a straight no. There can’t be a disappointing comic book hero movie or TV show because for me I just love that they’re taking the time to do such.
– Dave Weinthal
Jay and Silent Bob’s Reboot Roadshow makes a stop for two shows Friday, November 15 at Walker Theatre.