Kevin Smith is growing up. The 36-year old Vancouver Film School dropout burst onto the filmmaking scene with his foul-mouthed, low-budget 1994 indie hit Clerks, and parlayed that success into a mainstream career. A decade later, Smith returned to his roots with Clerks 2, and admits little hesitation in going back to where he started.
“I never really bought the talk about Clerks being a classic film, which I guess allowed me to do another,” says Smith. “I’ve never been one to bow to sacred cows in my career, so why do it for one of my own films?”
The online community, especially fansites, cried foul over the announcement of Clerks 2. Smith, however, wasn’t phased by the initial negative reaction.
“The Net went nuts,” Smith reflects. “But they didn’t know what the movie was about. Since they were reacting from a position of ignorance about the movie, I didn’t really mind it.”
Clerks 2 is Smith’s seventh feature and the sixth to be shot independent of the studio system. Smith says studio involvement with his second film, 1995’s Mallrats, soured him on working for somebody else, specifically that film’s studio-imposed nude scene.
“I’m as big a fan of titties as anyone,” Smith admits. “But it’s not like we couldn’t have told that story without that titty shot. I didn’t feel it needed nudity, but the producers said that since it was an R-rated comedy, You’ve got to have titties in there. I swore after doing that for Mallrats that I’d never do it again.”
Despite his success as both writer and director, Smith sees himself as a writer who directs his own films rather than as a filmmaker. He sees his next project, an as-yet-untitled horror film, as a challenge to gauge how much he’s learned since his debut.
“I guess I’ll get to see if I’m a filmmaker or not,” he jokes. “If I can pull this off in a different genre, I guess I am. If I fail, it’s nothing but comedies until the end of time.”
With the announcement of his new project, Smith notes that Clerks 2 is likely the swansong for Jay and Silent Bob, citing his age and the feeling of closure from the film as reasons to put the characters to rest. He doesn’t discount the possibility of another chapter in the lives of Dante and Randal, however.
“I’m 36 now,” Smith says. “So I don’t really see myself playing Silent Bob when I’m 40. I’m lucky people have put up with it as long as they have. But since Clerks was about guys like me in their 20s and Clerks 2 is about guys like me in their 30s, I might come back to Dante and Randal in a few years when they’re in their 40s.”