Kevin Smith’s PR man sends an email telling me that I have exactly 20 minutes to interview the filmmaker via telephone. He warns me that Smith is one chatty dude, and that Smith has other interview obligations afterward, and so 20 minutes tops, please. When Smith, best known for directing the cult classics “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Chasing Amy,” answers my phone call, he assures me that Mr. Smith is his father, and that I can call him Kevin. When I hang up the phone some 50 minutes later, I sit back and marvel to myself that Silent Bob just called me his motherf%$@er, and that Smith’s live show titled “Kevin Smith Can’t Shut The $@$% Up,” which he will bring to the Fort Lewis Community Concert Hall at 7 p.m. Friday, couldn’t be more accurate.
Kevin Smith really can’t shut the f%$@ up.
You’re known for movies that defined Gen X angst. What do you think of millenials?
Dude, I’m an energy vampire. I love working with younger people. Their energy for creativity matches mine. I haven’t lost the luster for “Hey, let’s put on a show.” Most people my age are saying, “Hey, let’s put on a family.” That excitement for art and expression – that’s thrilling to me. People say all the time, “Well, he’s not a grown up,” and my response is always, “Well, of course not, motherf%$@er. I make pretend for a living.” Steven Spielberg isn’t grown up, either. He just picks better material than me. We’re children in the entertainment industry, whether you’re telling jokes on stage or doing a podcast or making a movie or TV. We’re trying to prolong childhood.
Millenials drove the movie I just did, “Tusk.” I rolled my clock back 10, 15 years by making that weird-ass movie. It all came out of talking with my friend on a podcast. Very rarely do you have a microphone on the moment of inspiration, but we came up with this dopey idea and I told the audience to Tweet #WalrusYes if they wanted to see it and #WalrusNo if you they thought it was stupid. And there was a bunch of #WalrusYes, dude. That was a bunch of millenials saying, “F%$@ yeah, make your walrus movie.” Millenials respond to “Tusk” because they see that there’s no excuse to not go out and try. They see me taking the stupidest idea possible and turning it into a halfway watchable movie. And Johnny Depp showed up for it! It’s sort of punk rock, in that regard, doing something not to drive box office sales, but because you want to see it. Maybe not in content, but definitely in ethos, “Tusk” and “Clerks” are cut from the same cloth.
“Never make a movie that anyone else could make.” That’s my new thing. I love “Zach and Miri Make A Porno,” but anybody could have made that. Nobody else could make “Tusk.” Nobody else would bother! That’s my barometer now: Would anybody else make this movie? If not, than it’s probably a Kevin Smith movie and I should probably make it.
“The big bucks are in the dick and fart jokes.” True?
I like to think that’s not all I have, but it’s sort of my default. I’m like the Green Arrow when it comes to dick jokes. My quiver is full and my aim is true. Every time I’ve dialed it back, like “Jersey Girl,” I get crucified. Go back to the dick jokes! What’s this saccharine pabulum you’re peddling here?! Meanwhile, those are the movies I like best. My favorite John Hughes movie is, “She’s Having A Baby,” which is usually considered his least interesting work. People prefer “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club.” The line you’re referring to, when Holden is talking to Jay and Silent Bob in the diner in “Chasing Amy,” is my coming to grips with it, and saying, “This is a big part of who you are, Champ. You’d love to be loftier than this, but play your position.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not playing the violin as the poor little fat boy who has to make dick jokes. I love it, and I love doing the work that I do.
I’ve always been curious, how did you cast Alanis Morissette as God in your 1999 film, “Dogma”?
I had a big crush on her. [laughs] The joke I usually tell – and it’s a true story – is that I always thought God would be Canadian, so I cast the most prominent Canadian I know. Mike Myers was busy, and I knew Alanis. I asked her to be Bethany first – the role that Linda Fiorentino played – and Alanis said, “I’ve never acted that much. That’s way too big” and she was also headed to India. When she got back, we were well into production, but she called me and said, “Look, I’m rested and my head’s in a good place and I’m sure you’ve got that role filled, but if there’s anything left, I’d love to do it.” I told her that there was one small but crucial role left, and she had a hoot with it. She was the one who asked to do a handstand and when she tried one, she had this outfit on – this Christian Lecroix jacket and a tutu, very childlike – and she goes to do a handstand, and – Oh my God! – there’s Alanis’ underwear! I thought, “Well, I just saw God.” When we actually did the filming though, we got her some boxers.
What do you make of Trump’s run for president?
Here’s my hope: There’s a rumor going around that he met with Bill Clinton prior to jumping into the race. Illuminati shit. If this has all been an insane trolling where really he’s just trying to throw the thing to Hillary, and it was a Democratic dirty play, then holy crap, dude. He needs a statue. He needs to be sainted. I’m really just praying to Christ that when it’s all said and done, he gives a big grin and says, “Surprise!”