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INT: Kevin Smith

Jan. 19, 2007by: JimmyO

I remember my first viewing of CLERKS. It was years ago and I had had my experience serving others in a retail environment. And with all the crudeness and over the top humor, one thing stuck with me Kevin Smith gets it. He gets what its like to have to deal with a-holes and he gets what its like to be trying to keep sane in a f*cked up world. Since then, he continues to make funny and surprisingly heartfelt flicks including CLERKS 2, DOGMA and one of my personal favorites, CHASING AMY.

Yet recently, we are going to be seeing a whole lot more of Mr. Smithas an actor and Im not just talking Silent Bob. Hell be appearing in LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD: DIE HARD 4 and the romantic dramedy from Sony Pictures, CATCH AND RELEASE. The latter of which is a scene stealing performance alongside the lovely Jennifer Garner, and Sam Jaegar and Timothy Olyphant.

I was lucky enough to hang out on a one-to-one basis with Kevin at the Casa del Mar in Santa Monica , California , and I couldnt have had a better time. The dude is just an all-around great guy. This is a guy who loves movies and I mean, really LOVES movies and not in a how much money is this gonna get me way. Hes laid back and funny but he also happens to be very smart. This shows in his writing but it really is clear just talking to him.

We spoke a little about making a huge flick like DIE HARD 4, we talked about the affect of pop culture and its appeal and we spent a bunch of time talking horror. If all goes well, we should be seeing what the IMDB calls, the untitled Kevin Smith horror project. And if his excitement for the genre is any indication, we may be in for a treat. But until then, check him out in CATCH AND RELEASE and see the softer side of Kevin Smith. Coming to theatres next Friday, its definitely worth a look.

Kevin Smith

Whos more pimp; Han Solo or David Addison [Bruce Willis in MOONLIGHTING]?

David Addison.

I agree.

And also, its [an] unfair comparison because Han Solo, we only got to see him three times. And David Addison, they did almost four years of that show, they never did twenty-two episodes of any season so they never reached their syndication number. So they did roughly sixty to seventy episodes so he had more time to be a pimp. But even in that first episode he was more pimp than Han Solo.

I agree with you completely. So now youre working with Bruce Willis, DIE HARD 4; what was the experience like? You had five days on it

It was mind-bending sir. It was a real education on why those movies are expensive. Because everything just kind of slows down. Like on the stuff we do, its like, lets move, lets keep going because weve got a lot to get to and a very little budget to work with. Those movies, its like, weve got a hundred and fifteen mil, were gonna take our time. And also Len [Wiseman] is a really strong visual director so that dudes always rockin minimum of two cameras, sometimes three and covering a scene every which way but loose.

And also, when youre dealing with something like DIE HARD 4, its the fourth in a franchise so its like got continuity behind it, its got a character behind it that you wanna honor and whatnot. You know, its one of the most successful franchises of all time. But it was fun and sometimes weird, you know, I cant believe f*ckin John McClanes yellin at me. It was awesome, you know. It was a real education though. I mean, if anything - and I enjoyed my experience on it and Im so glad I did it and I cant wait to see the movie but it just kind of reaffirmed my long held suspicion that I never wanna make a movie like that; too big, just too big for me.

Well, the thing with your movies, in fact as I was watching CLERKS 2 with my wife and I kept thinking, here he has the donkey jokes where everythings so vulgar and its all packed in there with the small budget. But it has heart, big time heart

Yeah. Well, thats what Ive always found, movies that appeal to me the most are the ones that make you laugh, make you feel. And thats what I kind of like to do. Its kind of like, I love making jokes, I love making people laugh, getting naughty, getting dirty and shit like that but dirty for the sake of dirty is just kind of boring. You know, youve gotta have something to hang it on. And the real meat for me, like I love everything in CLERKS 2 but my favorite scene though is them in the jail. Very few jokes but its just the interplay between Dante and Randall. And I love the Jay and Silent Bob asides in that scene but I just love Jeff Anderson is nothing short of amazing to me in that scene. And what he says as Randall is wonderful.

Hes a fantastic actor.

He should f*cking work a lot more. Seriously.

With you personally, would you be a Dante or would you be Randall?

You know, I used to be a Dante, when I wrote CLERKS. I was very much like Dante and I wanted to be more like Randall. And then when I wrote CLERKS 2 you know, years later, I identified far more with Randall than I did with Dante. Even though Dante, in CLERKS 2 is doing things more akin to my life in as much as like, hes having a kid, hes thinking of getting married, stuff like that. I identified far more with Randalls storyline in that movie. The frustration of when did everything change, when did the status quo change? Why do I feel so left out, why do I feel so behind the times and shit? That happens like anytime I put on MTV, Im just like, My God, Im an old man. because I dont identify with any of this anymore.

Yeah, especially like music videos, if you can find a music video anymore.

Yeah, good luck.

I was reading your blogs and it strikes me that you are big into pop culture, what do you think it is about our generation that pop culture is all over, whether it be movies or whatever, especially now?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that, I dont think we were the first generation, but we grew up in a time where there was nothing radical going on, you know what Im sayin. Like, our grandparents lived through World War II, our parents lived though Vietnam and like a president who turned out to be deceptive and people getting assassinated. You know, I grew up in the Seventies forward, really not that much going on. There was no massive upheaval; we didnt live through history so to speak.

We did have disco.

That was it. You know, and until the shuttle exploded, nothing really horrific really happened. There was the hostage crisis in Iran which ended after a long period of time relatively well. Like, so there was nothing hard core going on and so, whats to talk about except movies. We were lucky; we kind of grew up in a period where you know, irony could foster cuz you didnt have to worry about [things] Now is a different age right, like now all of a sudden its like, When is that dirty bomb going off? And suddenly, theres more at stake then there was in the Seventies, I think.

And also in the Seventies and Eighties they started making insanely popular entertainment. Like prior to JAWS, there were no blockbusters. They had movies that would, like even GONE WITH THE WIND was the highest grossing movie of all time in adjusted dollars or something like that and made a shitload of money when it was out, it never played on a thousand screens, two-thousand screens. So as the multiplex kind of develops into a cultural force and movies open up on thousands of screens and stuff like that, we came of age during that. You know, we came of age during like, fantastic fantasy films where you actually believe what you were seeing on the screen; the STAR WARS, JAWS, INDIANA JONES, shit like that. They didnt really have that prior to us. They had movies of course and some of them had fantastic elements to them but it just became so much more dominant in our youth.

I think also TV, I mean; you had so many different mediums. I remember when I was seven years old seeing [the trailer] for HALLOWEEN and I was like, Mommy, can I see that? And she took me.

To the theatre?

Yeah, several times.

Wow.

Yeah

Parents dont do that now. Like I showed my kid GREMLINS and I caught shit from my wife for it because shes like, Shes gonna be up now forever. You know, thats gonna haunt her. I watched these movies when I was a kid, I watched scary things when I was a kid and it didnt really bother me as much. Now, its weird, like I have to wait til my kid is a pre-teen before I show her some of the movies I cant wait to show her THE SHINING, its f*cked up, this movies amazing. I cant show it to her til shes older cuz the wife wont let me.

Now with the horror movie you are working on, you mentioned that you hadnt started writing yet.

Nah, its all in my head. I havent sat down and started tapping away yet.

What are you looking at? What are the types of films that

You ever see RACE WITH THE DEVIL?

Oh, of course.

Like that. So its not like I had a bunch of people today be like, so zombies? No. Its so weird that whenever somebody asks me zombies Im like, Is that what a horror movie is to people? Like just zombies? Its such a wide genre, wide open. Like theres so many in a world where 28 DAYS LATER is a horror movie and THE SHINING is a horror movie, those are two very disparate films. Where not even that, like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and THE SHINING. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is almost like a parody of horror at this point. But THE SHINING isnt like that [kind of] horror... Its a wide open genre and very tough to pin down. Its so odd to me when people immediately assume youre talking about a zombie or a monster.

I think because its a trendy thing right now.

Right.

Lets make a zombie film or a remake of course.

Right. F*ckin, I cant believe THE HITCHERS coming out.

I saw it.

How is it?

Its okay.

I mean out of all the f*ckin movies that you would think to remake, like, really THE HITCHER?

Theyre remaking NEAR DARK too.

WHAT! ?

Yeah, I know.

WHY?

I dont know.

This is the thing I dont get. I dont know, like DAWN OF THE DEAD really worked for me, the Zack Snyder one. I enjoyed it.

It was fun.

Its kind of like, you know the difference between the book of THE SHINING and the movie THE SHINING, two very different beasts but they co-exist and I like them both. But when you start remaking stuff like NEAR DARK which didnt come out all that long ago and really stands the test of time, you can watch NEAR DARK today and its just as good as when you watched it when you were a kid. Why would you make that movie? It makes no sense to me. THE HITCHER was one of those too where Im like I guess their philosophy is like, no, youre not going to get a young audience to watch those movies now, but why not? You know, I dont get it.

Well its amazing because they are talking about remaking so many films, like SUSPIRIA for instance. And we have so many creative outlets, why not go and do something like it.

Right.

Maybe get inspired by it instead of, lets make the same movies.

Right.

Do you think that Hollywood is lacking lately in the creativity department?

I mean, I dont know. I dont really dwell in that world as much so I dont but Im like you in respect that, you found out that theyre making a new NEAR DARK remake. I just found out theyre making a NEAR DARK remake. And Id probably react the same way. And I dont react from an insiders perspective, I react as a dude who saw NEAR DARK and why bother? Somebody wholl potentially go see it, you know and Im just sitting there scratching my head going, I dont know why they would re-do that. I dont understand the remake thing. You know some things, if youre reaching far back like, for example, in the Seventies when they remade INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

Great movie.

Yeah, that was a great remake.

Well, yeah, that was also early on, back in the Fifties you couldnt really do what you did [in the Seventies].

But you have to imagine the audience that supported that movie in the Fifties probably felt, Why bother? That was a relic of the Cold War, it was truly a Cold War movie and how are they gonna do it now in the Seventies when the Cold War wasnt what it was then. You know, we were still in the midst of it but it wasnt what it was in the Fifties you know with the Red Scare and shit like that. But still Phil Kaufman turns out a great movie thats almost better than the original.

Yeah, in many ways it was.

In many ways, but still, same subject matter but not nearly the same red menace that they had lurking in the subtext of the original. So you wanna give them the benefit of the doubt and be like, alright, well its possible to make an update of an old horror movie and do a really good job with it. But then they choose obvious things like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Why? That movie was creepy enough. Like why do it?

Well, I mean, Ill admit, I liked the remake.

Well yeah, they did a fine job but on paper it was like, why bother?

Well, its almost like you see it and youre like, well okay thats a great sequel.

Yeah and why not just make it that. Why call it a remake or a re-imagining. Why not just be like, yeah, heres another one. I guess they dont want a number in front of it because they feel like a cop out or something.

Well when you like at when FRIDAY THE 13th was huge, they keep making them and making them and that number became almost like, Oh, Jesus. Another one!

Same with HALLOWEEN. By the time they got to the X [with FRIDAY THE 13th], when they got to like, JASON TAKES MANHATTAN youre just like when you got to like f*ckin in space, youre like, it stops being horrific at all.

Oh yeah, it stopped being horrific with

Maybe two or three.

And then you have RACE WITH THE DEVIL, a great movie.

And its one like, somebody said, well why not just remake RACE WITH THE DEVIL. Im like WHY, that movies awesome. Why bother And also there are things that movie has going for it which you wouldnt have going for it thirty years later in telling that exact story. I mean even the little simple shit like, in this day and age, the whole thing is figured out with a cell phone call. They didnt have cell phones back then. You know, so its kind of like, why bother.

And also, you can respect the spirit of it but not necessarily wanna remake that movie. Thats the genre of horror that Im really interested in working in. I like watching everything, but if Im gonna make a horror movie I wanna do that. Kind of creepy, unsettling and kind of terrifying because it feels like its possible. I mean, you dont really, truly get scared of FRIDAY THE 13th because youre like, well this could never happen. And by the time you get to, you know, f*ckin Jason with a hockey mask, its like, well I guess there could be a relentless ghoul who wants to chase you but thats more of a monster movie more than anything else.

But like RACE WITH THE DEVIL is like totally believable. And I like that genre. You know, even THE SHINING is totally believable. You remove the elements of like, the supernatural, Lloyd, the ghostly bartender, or the former caretaker, Delbert Grady who killed his family thats a story of a dude who has lost his mind. As a parent with his wife and his child, in a vast hotel caught in the middle of winter and he just unravels and tries to kill them. And you buy that. I could sit there and believe in this. Its totally believable. When you get into the Jasons and stuff, not so believable. I wanna work in a little corner of that genre thats more believable, that could happen.

Let me know what you think. Send questions or comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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