Kevin Smith: ‘How are you going to get laid if you look like an old person?’

Would you like to direct an MCU or Star Wars movie? HBrint and Jay_MurpheusNo. It’s a fool’s errand – you’re going to piss somebody off. Fandom is rabid and tribal. When I worked on Masters of the Universe, I took a lot of heat from people who felt like I had ruined their childhood. Going near a Marvel or a Star Wars would make me insanely reticent. They’ve got a billion people to make those movies, but nobody’s making Kevin Smith movies, so I might as well make them.

Are you still vegan? HauntedsandwichI went vegan after my heart attack, four and a half years ago, and have stayed vegan ever since. There have been moments when somebody has said, “Oh, that’s got milk in it” and I’ve crumbled inside because I feel like I’m cheating on my daughter, who brought me into veganism. The beautiful thing about veganism is that it cuts you off from all the foods that are fun and fattening, but you drop weight and look younger, and in this world of appearances, that’s what it’s all about. How are you going to get laid if you look like an old person?

What was it like working with Alan Rickman in Dogma? CWilliams1955Bliss. Alan Rickman, it turns out, was my friend. I was such a fan from the moment I saw him in Die Hard. I assumed we were just associates, but he stayed in touch the rest of his life. Whenever I was in England, he would call out of the blue and say – I can’t do the voice: “I know you’re here, it’s time to hang out.” He wasn’t just being professionally courteous because we made a movie together 20 years ago. I still can’t believe Alan Rickman actually liked me.

One of my favourite memories is when he came to one of my shows at the O2 in London and we drove back to town together. He said: “I’ve finally broken and bought an apartment in New York.” I said: “That’s excellent.” He said: “It’s not excellent, it’s in the same building as my friend Ralph.” I said: “Why is that bad?” And he said: “Ralph Fiennes. If the Harry Potter world found out that Snape and Voldemort live in the same building, they’d burn it to the ground!”Clerks III obviously brought up some feelings from your heart scare. How did you feel watching it from behind the camera, and what was the most challenging scene from the original Clerks to recreate? ThisisDouch and Gareth0You’ve got to remember, I’m the ringmaster. It would be weird if I was surprised when I found elephants at the circus. I wanted the cast to know what it was like to be me – walking around in a stoner haze. When I was writing it, I thought: “If I play my cards right, we’re going to be standing in the exact same places and saying the exact same things as we did nearly 30 years ago, and that’s going to be a mindfuck.” Sure enough, when we got on to the set, Brian [O’Halloran, who plays Dante Hicks], Jeff [Anderson, Randal Graves] and Jason [Mewes, Jay] each said: “Oh my God. I stood here 30 years ago and said the exact same thing.”

Why did you make Bob (mostly) silent? ThePhantomPigeon and wellywearer2

Bob is silent solely so you can focus on Jay, who is based on Jason Mewes when he was 16: a stream-of-consciousness chatter. I didn’t need Jay to have conversations, I just needed somebody he could orate to. The kids who hang out outside the convenience stores dealing weed always have a bigger, quieter kid with them, who I’ve always assumed was the muscle. I thought: “I’ve got to give this guy some muscle in the form of this silent dude.”

What inspired the “stink palm”, and who would you most like to give one to? Bauhaus66 and randomlexisThe stink palm was invented for Mallrats. It’s not even one of my proudest jokes, but, boy, it’s lasted. Nobody ever did it to me and I never did it to anybody. It just seemed like a weird, gross thing to do. Who would deserve one in real life? That’s tough, man. I try not to wish ill on anybody.

Would you have had the same career trajectory had you been born in the 21st century, or did you arrive at the perfect moment between VHS and DVD? Ajyates33I arrived at the perfect moment between film-making and YouTubing. I was the last through the door where they said: “Hey, this kid has made a thing, isn’t that incredible?” Five years later, the floodgates would have opened and there would have been a billion mes. My voice would have been totally lost in the 21st-century sea of far more talented YouTubers and TikTokers. I look at TikTok and thank the Lord I was Cinderella-ed in, like they did in the 80s and 90s.

Is that Gumtree/Walrus story actually true? TurangaLeela2It’s 100% true. Chris Parkinson – who we made associate producer – decided to write this prank piece on where this guy was offering a room in his mansion for free, but for one hour a day you had to dress in what he described as “an incredibly realistic walrus costume”. So we spun Tusk out of that.

You are an excellent film-maker but an even better raconteur. Discuss. PaulMarinerI agree 100%: I’m a way better talker than film-maker. I would stop making films, but then I’d have nothing to recount. Ironically, I make more money standing on stage talking about making movies than I do from actually making movies. I’ve backed into standup comedy, thanks to film-making. It’s like the universe is telling me: your movies are cute, but you’re best at talking.

Does your wife give you a hard time for the way you dress? Pitkin88My wife gave up with my sartorial splendour a long time ago. Looking at how I’ve been attired for the last 24 years, hats off to her, because I looked fucking terrible wearing a sleeveless, zip-down hoodie, hockey jersey and basketball shooters. She never once said: “I have to stand next to you on a red carpet looking like that?” So God bless her.

Would you rather have friends in high places or high friends in places? HaoTianFriends in high places are costly, but you’ll never go wrong with high friends in places.

Regrets? cjmadden

Even the movies that don’t work eventually work out. Mallrats was a huge flop at the box office, so you’ve got to eat shit for a while. Professionally, no regrets. Personally, I wish I’d known my father better. We were close, but he wasn’t as open as I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve – there ain’t nothing my kid doesn’t not know about me. But my father is still something of a mystery. He never encouraged me to make movies – I was an idiot kid – but sitting next to him in the dark watching movies is how I learned a lot about humanity. You learn a lot about someone if, as a child, you watch what makes a grown man laugh and cry. I remember him crying at Raging Bull and thinking: “You’re allowed to cry at a pretend story and that’s OK?” That’s tacit permission to fall in love with art.

Was it really the death of your dog that made you turn your back on your Catholic upbringing? TopTramp

Dogma made me turn my back on my Catholic upbringing. My dog died years later. By then, my relationship with the Lord and religion was already at a different place. You’re fed lines from a young age and accept it as God’s given truth. When you get older, you think: “This is only true because somebody told me it was true as a kid.” Even after Dogma, I was still holding on to the idea of God and heaven, but it slowly slipped away. I miss it sometimes. When I meet spiritual people, I always feel for them because I miss believing in that shit. There’s a simplicity, comfort and romanticism to knowing what’s going to happen when you leave this world. Now I realise I’m just going to rot in the ground and am not going to be reunited with my dead dad or dog. Much as I like being pragmatic, it was beautiful to have believed for as long as I did.

What are the chances of your Prince documentary emerging? McScootikins

Very high. The director of OJ: Made in America is making a documentary for Netflix, and came to the house to interview me. When they went to the vaults after Prince died, they found so much unreleased music and so many music videos, but the only footage of him talking was what I shot. It’s extraordinary: he acts differently to how he ever acted in his entire life, and he talks for hours and hours. It looks like it’s finally going to see the light. Is smoking weed good for creativity? JohnnyTextfaceSmoking weed doesn’t make you creative. What it does is mow down inhibition, and that’s very powerful when taking pen in hand. You have a zillion good ideas, then it’s the second voice that shouts them down: “Why would anyone be interested in that?” You listen to that voice because it’s easier to believe the negative than the positive. Weed allows you to take the hit and smoke the second voice down: “So what if it’s stupid? Let’s give it a shot, man.” You work through the inhibition and suddenly you’re doing things creatively on the page that you wouldn’t normally.


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