This week, Kevin Smith’s new movie, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, hits theaters in a limited run courtesy of Fathom Events.
The movie is one that Kevin Smith fans will love, familiar and yet new. It’s the same old Jay and Silent Bob we know and love, but even stoner duo Bluntman and Chronic have to grow up someday. And indeed, they grow up – at least a little – in Reboot. This is especially true for Jay, who finds out he’s a father.
I had the opportunity to talk to Jason Mewes about returning to play Jay in the reboot that comes 18 years after the original. I wanted to know if it was different to step back into that role now with him and Kevin Smith having both experienced so many life-changing events in the last few years, including rehab and becoming a new dad for Mewes, and a near-fatal heart attack for Smith.
Did stepping back into the role of Jay feel different now that so much has happened in your own life in the almost, what, two decades since the first movie?
Jason Mewes: For me it was like, I was really confident going in thinking it’s the same thing, same characters. I was just thinking, “Oh, we’re going to be doing another Jay and Bob movie.” I didn’t really soak it in at first, just how different this story is in some ways. I was just reading through the script thinking, “Oh, this is clever and funny!” I wasn’t really thinking about it in terms of, oh, yeah, this has evolved and has a lot of heart with Jay finding out he has a daughter and stuff. It wasn’t until we started shooting that first day that it really sort of hit me, because the first scene we shot was a scene with me and Jason Lee. I was like, “Oh, I’ve done a million scenes with him and we’re friends and it will be easy, I’ve done Jay a million times.” But I’d forgotten how much dialogue there is. Even when I don’t have a lot of dialogue, and the other person does, the cameras are still on me. I can’t just listen, I also have to react and get into it. I didn’t think about how much was involved until we started shooting. That night I went home and read through the whole script again and memorized my scenes for the next two days.
I bet it was also really weird to act opposite Harley (Quinn, Kevin Smith’s daughter), since she was a baby in the first movie and now she’s an adult playing your daughter in the reboot.
JM: It’s so awesome and surreal. And now my daughter is actually the baby in this one!
That’s such a cool throughline and legacy. And you have such a history with Harley Quinn, too. I mean, you’ve seen her grow up.
JM: Each time I stood in front of her, I’d have these moments like, “Oh my goodness, this is so surreal.” And I’d tell her that, too. I’d be on set and have those professional moments of working with her, but then I’d also see her and be so proud of her just watching her do her thing. I honestly feel that she helped me get to the character the way Kevin wrote it. Because in this Jay and Bob, I feel like if he cast Sally Such-and-Such to play my daughter, getting into those emotional scenes wouldn’t have been as easy for me. Not to say that it was easy, but because of our relationship, she’d start tearing up in a scene and getting emotional and I’d see that and I’d start getting emotional because my heartstrings would get pulled on.
You also directed your first feature film, ‘Madness in the Method,’ this year. Was it stressful to finally be the one calling the shots or did you feel like you had it because you’d watched Kevin for all these years?
JM: It was a combination of both. It was nerve-wracking for me because it’s like, wow, someone is trusting me with a budget and I gotta hope that I don’t start thinking I can do it and then all the stuff is wrong. But at the same time, I felt pretty confident that I could pull it off and do it, partly because I have been watching Kevin for so long. Over the years, he wouldn’t necessarily let me direct scenes, but I would watch and mess with them. You know, every once in awhile make a suggestion about, like, how to approach a scene. And sometimes he’d go, “Oh, yeah, that’s a really good idea. Let’s do that.” So I already felt like over time I was trying to crack it with Kevin – not on purpose, it just sort of happened. It was also really helpful to have Dominic Burns produce my movie. He’d be behind the camera after we’d set up blocking and I’d have to get wardrobe and makeup. Then if I was doing a scene and couldn’t watch myself, I’d have him in the back helping me out.
Did you learn anything from watching Kevin direct that you carried with you to your own movie?
JM: I noticed I did take something from Kevin that I picked up over the years. Kevin edits his own movies and so when he directs, he thinks of things as an editor. Even in the script, if it says something like, “The person comes out of the car, walks down the street, up the stairs, and in the front door,” a lot of other directors would shoot each one of those so that the editor has it and can decide what stays. But Kevin will already know he’s never going to use certain things, so he’ll cut it out and we don’t even have to shoot that. And I noticed I was doing that accidentally, even though I wasn’t editing it.
Both ‘Madness in the Method’ and ‘Jay and Silent Bob Reboot’ skewer Hollywood in a way. You and Kevin have always been part of Hollywood, but still kind of outsiders who do your own thing and observe the entertainment industry in ways more entrenched people can’t. Would you say that’s true?
JM: You know, I can walk out of my house and no one really notices or cares. Maybe once a week someone will stop me and be like, “Hey!” But I remember one time, my buddy was an assistant for Ben [Affleck] for about six months. And Ben was like, “Hey, can you bring my car to the carwash?” to my buddy, and I said I’d go as I had nothing to do – I figured we could hang out for a while. So we went to Ben’s, grabbed his car, and we came out of the driveway and, no joke, there were about eight paparazzi waiting outside his house. The windows were tinted so they didn’t know it was us and they followed us for about six blocks. So that’s a whole other world that I’m not familiar with. It’s interesting, kind of being part of it but not really part of it, you know what I mean?
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is in theaters on Tuesday, October 15th and Thursday, October 17th as a double feature with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and bonus content.