Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back makes centers of attention out of two minor recurring characters from Smith's earlier movies, a pair of shiftless guttersnipes played by Jason Mewes (as the jive-talking Jay) and Smith himself (as the eye-rolling sidekick). These idiotic Jersey homeboys eventually find their way to Hollywood -- don't ask -- and tossed in throughout the film are cameos by a whole lot of stars who've appeared in other Smith movies: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock and Jason Lee, among others.
For his part, Smith, 31, insists the new movie is more than just a "throwback" to his first movie. It's tantamount to "closing the fucking book" on these two characters once and for all and "a final chapter to one particular stage of my career." Yes, it's true, he says. Whether you can't get enough of them or you think they've overstayed their so-called welcome, say goodbye to Jay and Silent Bob.
CL: Looking back on it now, would you agree that your last film Dogma hit a sour note? It seemed like you couldn't win for losing. There was a lot of advance protest from different religious groups. The original distributor (Miramax, a Disney subsidiary) dropped the movie. Critics accused you of being pretentious and self-indulgent. And it all sort of alienated your normal fan base, didn't it?
KS: Well, that's right, there was a lot of opposition from different religious groups, but we never got any heat from the church itself. Taking no position is the best position. I mean, you don't want to call attention to something you don't want people to see, right? Most of our problems were with the Catholic League, a group of self-appointed media watchdogs. The funny thing was, once Disney bailed out, everything died down and went away. I always felt it was so fucking transparent. It was a sham of a protest to begin with. I mean, what did the Catholic League have to gain from Lions Gate (the company that eventually released the film), this little Canadian studio that didn't own a fucking network or a couple of fucking theme parks.
Did that whole experience have anything to do with your wanting to revisit this other type of story?
Oh, it had everything to do with it. This movie is a direct result of all that happened with Dogma. After living with death threats for a year and getting 400,000 pieces of fucking hate mail, you finally say to yourself, "You know what? I just want to make a movie where nobody wants to kill me at the end of the day." I mean, the worst threat I've received so far from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was having somebody post on a website that Kevin Smith sucks cock, but that I can deal with, you know? I just had the desire to do something completely non-controversial, something with absolutely no weight to it.
Apparently, you didn't hold any hard feeling against Miramax about deserting you on Dogma, since they're releasing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Listen, even if I did, I certainly got my payback on this movie. We make a lot of jokes at Miramax's expense, and they were fucking cool about it. Their only concern was whether anybody in the audience would get all the inside movie jokes. At one of the test screenings, the She's All That joke really went over, it was fucking huge, and it was kind of a relief to know that I'm not the only one who thinks Miramax started going downhill after She's All That. Hell, there are a lot of people who think Miramax started going downhill after Clerks, so what the fuck do I know?
How hard was it coordinating all the different schedules of your cameo players?
It was a fucking nightmare. It was weird, because for a couple of weeks it would just be me and Jason filming our stuff, and then Ben Affleck or Chris Rock would breeze in for a day. I mean, we're talking about people who have real jobs now, you know? Back when we did Chasing Amy, it was mostly a matter of prodding Affleck to get off the fucking couch and go shoot that day. Now, he's juggling three and four movies at a time. He went from one set in New York to D.C., where he filmed a couple of days on another one, and then he'd flown across the country to do some Pearl Harbor reshoots, and then we got him for a day. There was a point when it looked as if Rock wasn't going to be in the movie, and it really pissed me off because he's the one who asked me to write him into the script. I finally said, "What the fuck? If you don't have the time, you don't have the time." But then he ran into Ben at a party and heard what a fucking blast we were having, so he calls me the next day to say he's back in.
Any parting thoughts?
Yeah. I don't think anyone has ever been involved with such a fucking waste of time as I have for these last seven or eight years, but I've made a really good living, I've had a lot of good times, and I've made a lot of good friends. It's been like a fucking dream, telling these stories that I thought would never interest anyone but me, and then to have an audience turn out to see them. It beats working at a fucking convenience store, that's for sure.