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INT: Kevin Smith

01.19.2007

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 it’s like to have to deal with a-holes and he gets what it’s 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. Smith…as an actor and I’m not just talking Silent Bob. He’ll 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 couldn’t 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. He’s 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, it’s definitely worth a look.

Kevin Smith

Who’s more pimp; Han Solo or David Addison [Bruce Willis in MOONLIGHTING]?

David Addison.

I agree.

And also, it’s [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 you’re 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, it’s like, lets move, let’s keep going because we’ve got a lot to get to and a very little budget to work with. Those movies, its like, ‘we’ve got a hundred and fifteen mil, we’re gonna take our time.’ And also Len [Wiseman] is a really strong visual director so that dude’s always rockin’ minimum of two cameras, sometimes three and covering a scene every which way but loose.

And also, when you’re dealing with something like DIE HARD 4, it’s the fourth in a franchise so it’s like got continuity behind it, it’s got a character behind it that you wanna honor and whatnot. You know, it’s one of the most successful franchises of all time. But it was fun and sometimes weird, you know, ‘I can’t believe f*ckin’ John McClane’s 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 I’m so glad I did it and I can’t 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 everything’s so vulgar and it’s all packed in there with the small budget. But it has heart, big time heart…

Yeah. Well, that’s what I’ve always found, movies that appeal to me the most are the ones that make you laugh, make you feel. And that’s what I kind of like to do. It’s 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, you’ve 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 it’s 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.

He’s 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, he’s having a kid, he’s thinking of getting married, stuff like that. I identified far more with Randall’s 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, I’m just like, “My God, I’m an old man.” because I don’t 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 don’t think we were the first generation, but we grew up in a time where there was nothing radical going on, you know what I’m 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 didn’t 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, what’s to talk about except movies. We were lucky; we kind of grew up in a period where you know, irony could foster cuz you didn’t have to worry about [things]… Now is a different age right, like now all of a sudden it’s like, “When is that dirty bomb going off?” And suddenly, there’s 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 didn’t 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 don’t do that now. Like I showed my kid GREMLINS and I caught shit from my wife for it because she’s like, ‘She’s gonna be up now forever.’ You know, that’s gonna haunt her. I watched these movies when I was a kid, I watched scary things when I was a kid and it didn’t really bother me as much. Now, it’s weird, like I have to wait til’ my kid is a pre-teen before I show her some of the movies… I can’t wait to show her THE SHINING, it’s f*cked up, this movie’s amazing. I can’t show it to her til’ she’s older cuz the wife won’t let me.

Now with the horror movie you are working on, you mentioned that you hadn’t started writing yet.

Nah, it’s all in my head. I haven’t 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 it’s not… like I had a bunch of people today be like, so zombies? No. It’s so weird that whenever somebody asks me zombies I’m like, ‘Is that what a horror movie is to people?’ Like just zombies? It’s such a wide genre, wide open. Like there’s 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 isn’t like that [kind of] horror... It’s a wide open genre and very tough to pin down. It’s so odd to me when people immediately assume you’re talking about a zombie or a monster.

I think because it’s a trendy thing right now.

Right.

Let’s make a zombie film or a remake of course.

Right. F*ckin’, I can’t believe THE HITCHER’S coming out.

I saw it.

How is it?

It’s okay.

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

They’re remaking NEAR DARK too.

WHAT!

?

Yeah, I know.

WHY?

I don’t know.

This is the thing I don’t get. I don’t know, like DAWN OF THE DEAD really worked for me, the Zack Snyder one. I enjoyed it.

It was fun.

It’s 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 didn’t come out all that long ago and really stands the test of time, you can watch NEAR DARK today and it’s 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 I’m like… I guess their philosophy is like, no, you’re not going to get a young audience to watch those movies now, but why not? You know, I don’t get it.

Well it’s 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, ‘let’s make the same movies’.

Right.

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

I mean, I don’t know. I don’t really dwell in that world as much so I don’t… but I’m like you in respect that, you found out that they’re making a new NEAR DARK remake. I just found out they’re making a NEAR DARK remake. And I’d probably react the same way. And I don’t react from an insider’s perspective, I react as a dude who saw NEAR DARK and why bother? Somebody who’ll potentially go see it, you know and I’m just sitting there scratching my head going, ‘I don’t know why they would re-do that.’ I don’t understand the remake thing. You know some things, if you’re 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 couldn’t 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 wasn’t what it was then. You know, we were still in the midst of it but it wasn’t 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 that’s 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 it’s 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, I’ll admit, I liked the remake.

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

Well, it’s almost like you see it and you’re like, well okay that’s 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, here’s another one. I guess they don’t 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 you’re just like… when you got to like f*ckin’ in space, you’re 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 it’s one like, somebody said, ‘well why not just remake RACE WITH THE DEVIL.’ I’m like WHY, that movie’s awesome. Why bother… And also there are things that movie has going for it which you wouldn’t 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 didn’t have cell phones back then. You know, so it’s kind of like, why bother.

And also, you can respect the spirit of it but not necessarily wanna remake that movie. That’s the genre of horror that I’m really interested in working in. I like watching everything, but if I’m gonna make a horror movie I wanna do that. Kind of creepy, unsettling and kind of terrifying because it feels like it’s possible. I mean, you don’t really, truly get scared of FRIDAY THE 13th because you’re like, well this could never happen. And by the time you get to, you know, f*ckin’ Jason with a hockey mask, it’s like, well I guess there could be a relentless ghoul who wants to chase you but that’s 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… that’s 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. It’s totally believable. When you get into the Jason’s and stuff, not so believable. I wanna work in a little corner of that genre that’s 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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