Interviews with "Jay and Silent Bob" principals

Kevin Smith (Writer/Director/Actor)
Mark Hamill (A.K.A. Luke Skywalker)
Jason Lee
Shannon Elizabeth.
By Ross Anthony

Kevin Smith enters, tossing a cigarette carton on the table and lighting up even before sitting down.

PRESS: Did you have fun making this film?

KS: The funniest aspect was constantly turning to the audience and saying, "Are you still watching this movie?" Actually, at one point in the movie we were going to stop it cold and invite in Roger Ebert and Janet Maslin to actually review the movie thus far. It was too precious, I thought, so we never wound up doing it. It's a weird movie, Oh God, it's just me blowing myself for 90 minutes. It's a real big self-homage. But it seems to work; the audience seems to dig it.

PRESS: What's with Jay?

KS: Jay is a creature of the id. His brain has no filter. His character just says whatever's on his mind, what there is of his mind. He has no moral barometer ...just says what he says without thinking of the repercussions. And I'm there to roll my eyes.

This is probably our least mature film to date, I'm kind of proud of that. We made two back to back that dealt with weightier subjects, though they did have d*ck jokes in 'em too. So it was nice to make a film that had no weighty subject matter to it whatsoever. Even the satire is below the belt. I'm very proud of the Internet stuff that's in the movie, like going after f*cking armchair directors on the Internet and still even that is low-blow stuff -- it's not very sharp stuff. And I get to beat the sh*t out of children.

After what happen on "Dogma," 400,000 pieces of hate mail and death threats and not being able to open our own mail for six months. I really wanted to make a movie where the worst thing that could happen at the end of the day is that somebody would write on the website "Kevin Smith sucks c*ck" and spell "c*ck" wrong.

(Laughs all around)

On "Dogma" it was just such a trial from when we stopped production until when the movie came out. We had to deal with the religious controversy, the catholic league drumming all that brew-ha-ha about the movie. It was so full of that nonsense. So it was nice to make a movie with no controversy ...just puttin' out a bunch of laughs.

PRESS: How was the hate mail directed?

KS: It was from hard-core Christians. Most of the hard-core threats were centered on Harvey and Bob. I was Catholic so I got a lot of "You should know better and you'll burn in hell" that kind of thing. But they went after Harvey and Bob for being Jews, "This movie's just another piece of the ongoing Jewish conspiracy." There was a piece I'll never forget, the one I'll take to my grave said, "You Jews better take that money you stole from us and start investing in [bullet-proof] jackets 'cause we're coming in there with shotguns, [signed] your brothers in Christ." Then having to explain to Harvey and Bob that not all Christians are like that. I'm like, "dude, I have no grudge that you guys supposedly killed Christ, we needed a savior and you guys did the job for us.

(Lots of laughs.)

I'm not a part of this group, I seem to remember something about Christ saying about not hurting others, these people seem to have missed that chapter in the book."

PRESS: How'd you get away with bashing Miramax?

KS: I think it was payback. "Remember that movie [Dogma] Roger dropped? this is what you have to do to make up for that." And they were cool with it. They were fine with the jokes, I think their philosophy was "Look, as long as anyone's going to make fun of us ... may as well be one of our own."

PRESS: With all the references and characters from earlier films, is the humor of "Jay and Bob" too inside?

KS: I don't know... and at the end of the day, I don't care. I just want to make this movie and if people are with it they're with it and if they're not they're not. And I think we have enough of a fan base to guarantee your investment back. Interestingly, we had a test screening, had very few of our fans, and it played just as well as the first that had more of our fans. It holds. They'll sit there and laugh when Ben Affleck goes, "Nights like this I miss dating a lesbian." An audience that has seen "Chasing Amy" will laugh very hard, but the audience that hasn't seen it will just think it's a weird line out of nowhere. The other fear was, the movie would have too much industry jargon, but that sh*t plays like gold. Like the "She's all that joke" played f*cking huge in two suburban audiences. I looked over at Bob and he never thought that would work. He's like, "That's your opinion, that 'She's All That' is where Miramax went to hell." I look at the screening and the audience is laughing, "see they f*cking know too, we all f*cking know."

PRESS: Working with Mark Hamill?

KS: I was never really a big Luke Skywalker fan, I was more a Darth Vader guy, that's why it was cool to fight him [Mark Hamill].

PRESS: Which are your best films?

KS: "Amy's" probably my best, "Dogma" was a bit over-ambitious, I missed the target, but hit the tree. Don't get me wrong, I'm still proud of it.

PRESS: Is this the end of the Silent Bob era?

KS: If there ever was a Silent Bob era, this is the end of it.

PRESS: What's next?

KS: A little meditation on fatherhood. Because I am now a father. I can't make sh*t up, I just talk about sh*t that happens all the time.

PRESS: Did the MPAA give you any problems over the language when rating?

KS: We won our argument on "Clerks," it's all dialogue, we don't show anything, there's no nudity, nobody getting raped.

PRESS: No nudity?

KS: None. Some people were like... "You wanna put some t*ts in the movie?" I'm like "Why?" They're like, "Because it's a teen comedy." I said, "No. One: It's not a teen comedy. No. Two: Why are t*ts gonna help the movie? What does it say about me as a filmmaker if t*ts is what I need to save the movie. I don't want t*ts in my movie distracting from jokes. I don't want to complete with a set of t*ts - I can't."

 

Mark Hamill enters with flare, a big smile and high energy. He tells stories with fervor, nudging and grabbing those sitting in proximity (yours truly included). (He amuses us with a hauntingly accurate Harrison Ford impersonation.)

PRESS: How many offers do you get to 'send up' the Luke Skywalker character?

MH: With an alarming frequency actually, I probably should avoid those, because it's so hard to judge in advance how it's all going to come together. I recall when Mel Brooks was getting "Space Balls" together ... I knew he was going to call and I love Mel Brooks so much I was kind of surprised that he didn't.

You have to be very careful, when you're involved in something that's of cult status. It's from the people it comes; it's nothing you can manufacture. I love the fans, but the questions these people have ...!!! 'Your father was a navigator when he made the castle run did he ever stop by the university where Chewy went to college?" It's astonishing and I should know better, I have certain elements of my life that I obsess on. I mean, take the Beatles, comicbooks, cartoons etc.

PRESS: Any advice for your fans?

MH: I must be the king of bad advice, because when George said he was going to re-release the STAR WARS series, I said, "Don't just put glitter and stars on the old ones, make news ones! You got 'em all on video tape -- we've seen them a million times." And of course, I was wrong, everyone wanted to see them again.

Also, Arnold Schwarzenegger once asked for advice and I said, "Really? Try and lose your accent because it's going to be a hindrance rather than a help. And your name is absolutely unpronounceable. I'm just being nice. I mean, ... please." Cut to three years later, I'm, you know, at the unemployment office reading about Arnold getting 600 million for his next movie.

Everyone's walking on marshmallows around George. And George is such a regular fun guy. He almost has to be rescued and deprogrammed, because he's so insulated in Skywalker Ranch surrounded by people that, you know, think of him as some sort of deity. But that's not healthy though, because you're not out with the real people and you don't have the pulse of what's going on.

PRESS: But don't people think of you as a deity/hero in a way?

MH: Oh please, I'm no hero, I wish I was ... I don't even like to fly.

 

Jason Lee moseys in, pointing at the ashtray,

JL: "Kevin was here."

PRESS: How was working on "Jay and Bob" compared to earlier Kev films?

JL: The veterans were kind of being taken over by all these new people that had never worked with him. I came in for one day as Banky and one day as Brody and I'm seeing all these new actors and actresses that have never worked with Kevin and it was weird. Wow, there's a new generation of Kevin actors. I did four movies with him, I did my first with him when I was 24, now I'm 31. Kevin did a good job of making me feel comfortable because it was my first movie. So I walked away feeling empowered, he was very encouraging.

PRESS: How is improvising with Kevin?

JL: No, no improvising at all. "Amy" we had a month, like rehearsing it for a play, that's why is smooth and has a very specific pace, that's because it's very well rehearsed.

PRESS: Any other particular directors you enjoy working with?

JL: I want to do more with Kevin and Cameron.

PRESS: Any differences between working with Kevin or Cameron?

JL: More similarities than differences. Writer/directors are the most easy going, relaxed, confident people I've worked with. I think they're the best. Also, they both love dialogue.

PRESS: You're next project?

JL: A Tom Green film, it's a very intelligent, well-directed comedy.

RA: are you saying "Freddy Got Fingered" wasn't?

JL: No, I didn't see it.

RA: I'm kidding.

PRESS: And what about "Vanilla Sky?"

JL: I play a writer living in NY, best friends with Tom Cruise's character. He had a lot to carry and he did an amazing job.

PRESS: It was "Mallrats" that triggered your career change from skateboarding ... yes?

JL: "Mallrats was great timing, because I was slowing down as a skateboarder."

 

Jason perks up and seems most excited when talking about skateboarding; then Shannon finds her seat, fidgeting with the tip of her water bottle. She's every bit as beautiful in person. Her fiance and dog wait out in the hall.

RA: What was the one thing you put into the film that Kevin hadn't?

SE: He let me go blonde and cut bangs, and since the character's Justice, you know Justice is blind, so I asked, "Can I wear glasses?" and Kev's like "Oh yeah, but they have to be big and nerdy." I asked if we could put a tattoo on my ankle, so we did the scales of Justice. We talked about what she saw in Jay and what her struggles were.

PRESS: So what did your character see in Jay?

SE: As much as he would say crude things to other people, everything he said came from a sweet place. He was never being evil. So she saw his innocence and naiveté. "Oh he just doesn't know any better ... that's so sweet" That's kind of what you see in him in real life, he's a real sweet person, he's got a good heart.

PRESS: Would you, in real life, be attracted to someone like Jay?

SE: No.

(Laughs all around)

PRESS: What kind of guy do you go for?

SE: Has ambition and goals and knows what they want and not just stands outside convenient stores hanging out all day.

PRESS: How was working with Kev?

SE: Kevin, being the writer was great, if something wasn't working he'd come up with something else.

PRESS: How about improvising?

SE: It's something you don't want to do too much of in front of the writer. If we had ideas of changes, he was always cool with that. If anything, Will Ferrell would have quite a few lines.

PRESS: What do you do in your down time?

SE: Well, I have my charity that I run ... "Animal Avengers." It's an animal rescue, get them into good homes. Check it at website: ShannonElizabeth.com.



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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Thursday, 21-Oct-2010 15:28:27 PDT