Kevin Smith: 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back' director
Kevin Smith is a writer, director, actor and producer. His films include “Clerks,” “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma,” and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” which will release next week. Smith was one of the first filmmakers to venture into cyberspace when he introduced his web site (www.viewaskew.com) in the mid-nineties. Smith joined the CNN.com chat room from New York.
CNN: Thank you for joining us today, Kevin Smith, and welcome.
KEVIN SMITH: Many thanks, and hi. How come nobody's at work right now?
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kev, do you see the possibility for Jay or Silent Bob to make a cameo in another movie at some point? Some movie that is not officially part of the Jersey Chronicles?
SMITH: I think it's important that Jay and Bob go away after this movie, for a long, long time, lest folks start losing their appreciation for the pair. I've seen far too many one-time favorites quickly devolve into belligerently hated has-beens (Pauly Shore, anyone?). I don't think I could take it if that were to happen to Jay and Bob, so it's best to just put them away before they overstay their welcome -- which some feel happened four movies ago anyway.
CNN: Gay rights groups have been protesting "Jay and Silent Bob" because of the movie's gay jokes. What is your response?
SMITH: There are a ton of gay jokes in the movie. However, the important difference is that none are at the expense of the gay community. None of the humor is derogatory toward the gay community. Big difference. I've always felt I'm an incredibly gay-friendly, straight film maker. I think that's always shown in all our flicks. In fact I'm probably a wedding band away from being gay myself. That being said, you can see how distressing it was to read about the issues that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation had with the flick. But it all seemed to be a tempest in a teapot anyway, as that issue has quieted down considerably since rearing its misguided head.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kevin: what caused you to lash out at the Internet?
SMITH: Chats like this. (That's a joke.) Really, it came down to the people who find our web site just so they can try to tear me a new one, cyberly. Those were the people that I was striking back at, hence the title. I've got nothing but love for the Internet. I've got nothing but enmity for anonymous net-flamers (flamers meaning people who post nasty stuff on the Web, not flamers meaning gay folks -- trying to avoid another $10,000 fine here). Entertainment Weekly Magazine... I've got a lot of enmity for them, too.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kevin, what is your favorite moment/experience working on the new film?
SMITH: Probably the moment we wrapped. It was the first time we finished a movie where I felt completely satisfied with everything we had done. No reshoots were necessary, no pickups were necessary. It was all there, in the can. (When I say "in the can," I'm referring to film-making, and not making a juvenile gay joke -- remember, ten grand is a lot of money.)
CNN: Though they deal with bigger issues -- relationships and religion, among others -- your movies are usually drenched with youthful pop-culture references to comic books, "Star Wars" and the like. Do you think you could make a movie without them?
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kevin, are you really making a new Fletch movie with Jason Lee? Will Chevy Chase make a cameo?
SMITH: Yes. We're doing "Fletch Won" after the next movie we make. The only way I'll do it is if Jason Lee is Fletch.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What direction do you see yourself going, after jumping into feature filmmaking with "Clerks" and now moving on to bigger-money projects such as "Jay and Silent Bob"?
SMITH: I will probably keep doing exactly what we've been doing, i.e. heartfelt comedies mixed in with the occasional all-out raucous affair. The only difference will be the new stuff won't refer back to the old stuff, and Jay and Bob will be nowhere to be found.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What is your life outside of movies -- or don't you get to have one?
SMITH: I have not had a real life over the course of the last year. It's all been movie life. I'm looking forward to getting back to real life, as of Saturday morning.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Was it difficult to get Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher for "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”?
SMITH: Oddly enough, no.
CNN: It is said that Jason Lee will be reprising both his roles as Banky Edwards and as Brodie Bruce. Is anyone else who has appeared in the Jersey Chronicles more than once doubling up? How are you handling the reprising of characters from past films?
SMITH: The only two people doubling up are Jason Lee and Ben Affleck. In Ben's case, he's not even playing two characters he's previously played. He's playing one character (Holden) he's played before, and one role he was born to play -- Ben Affleck.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kevin, how did you get to be such good friends with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon before they became big stars?
SMITH: I used to get them laid in high school by standing between them. Because when your choices are Ben, Matt and me, suddenly there is no choice.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Kev, why sell your acting/mugging abilities short? As Bob you're right up there with silent film greats in emoting. You're really quite good!
SMITH: Ladies and Gentlemen, my mother. Many thanks.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: My mom doesn't really like your films, but I love them...How can I get her to see the light?
SMITH: Haven't two hundred years of failed missionary work overseas taught anybody anything? You can't convert people to anything -- whether religion, or something as inane as our flicks. That being said, show her "Chasing Amy." That's usually the one we win the parents with.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: How do you feel about translating comic books into movies or TV (i.e. "The Tick")?
SMITH: I'm all for more comic books in movies or TV, good or bad. More comics on film, that's what I say.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: At the end of "Dogma," it listed that Jay and Silent Bob will return in "Clerks 2." Will "Clerks 2" ever be released?
SMITH: "Clerks 2" became "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." I just felt there was no need to go back and sully "Clerks," when I can create a whole new... picture.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What is your approach to writing? Do you just lock yourself in a room or...?
SMITH: I go in a room, sit in front of the computer for ten to twelve hours, and smoke until I cough up three quarters of a lung.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: How sensitive are you to critics?
SMITH: Incredibly sensitive. Right now, I'm compiling my enemies list, a la Nixon, based on the critics who don't review this movie favorably. I'm built like an elephant, and like an elephant, I never forget.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What do think about all this Tim Burton flap?
SMITH: Nothing to see here, people. Move along.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Do you think your daughter will be reading comic books when she gets older?
SMITH: She better. That's the only thing she'll be allowed to read, until she's 38.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: How many movies/scripts do you have in the works right now?
SMITH: Right now, I'm a little preoccupied with the CNN live chat.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: When do you plan to grow up?
SMITH: Once I get out of these diapers. However, I don't think there's any money in growing up. I've found all the money to be in a juvenile fascination with human orifices.
CNN: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us today?
SMITH: If you guys saw the movie already, well, dammit, go see it again tomorrow. Many thanks for supporting us for as long as you have. Without you, I wouldn't be able to make the incredibly self-indulgent, childish, wonderful little epics I've been able to sucker Miramax into funding. So, give yourself a round of applause, and hopefully we'll get to grow old together, but not too old that we can't all still get a chuckle out of the good ol' ... jokes.
CNN: Thank you for joining us today.
SMITH: Many thanks!
Kevin Smith joined the CNN.com chat room by telephone and CNN provided a typist. This is an edited transcript of the chat which took place on Thursday, August 23, 2001.
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