Most people know you as Jay and Silent Bob, the slacker best friends from the movies Clerks, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, among others. The characters have also been in comic books, a TV show and a feature-length cartoon that came out this spring. What’s next for them, a musical?
KEVIN SMITH: We want to do a projection—you know, like they did with Tupac Shakur. We’re going to record a lot of shit now so that when we’re gone, they can bring us out onstage.
JASON MEWES: I think a video game would be pretty cool.
KS: Oh yeah. We’ve done some app games, but maybe a game where we’re shooting at each other. Jay vs. Silent Bob—that might be badass. Can you imagine those guys armed to the teeth? All right, we just talked ourselves into it.
You’ve done 10 films together, not counting the upcoming Clerks III. Who owes their career to whom?
JM: I definitely owe everything to Kevin. I never would have thought to write a script or direct a movie or put somebody like me in it. It was all Kevin’s idea.
KS: I truly feel my biggest creative influence is Mewes. The guy is unfiltered and fucking unfettered. I grew up in a world where things happen up here [points to head] and they go through a filter and get sifted before they come out here [points to mouth]. The beauty of Mewes is somebody pulled his filter out at birth. A thought pops into his brain and it immediately falls out of his mouth. Growing up, I always told him, you’re a fucking funny dude. You’re funnier than people on TV, you’re funnier than Bill Murray. Somebody should put you in a fucking movie. And then, a few years later, it was me.
You two met in your hometown of Highlands, New Jersey. Were you instant BFFs?
KS: Not really. At first I was jealous of him. I started hanging out with him when I was 18 and he was 14. I inherited him from my friends Walter and Bryan. We were going to a comic book show in New York, and I was driving. So I showed up and Mewes was with them, and I was like, “I’m not transporting a minor across state lines!” They talk me into it, and the whole ride up there Mewes is on fire, entertaining these cats. He was Dennis the Menace but way dirtier. Everything was “pussy, pussy, pussy,” even though he obviously hadn’t seen a pussy since he’d sprung from one. And then, while we’re on the highway, he takes out his penis.
JM: I thought it was funny.
KS: He was like, “Man, is it cold in here or is it me?” And you look down and he’s pulled his pants to his knees and he’s sitting there with his dick out, flapping it, going “Naauugggg!” At first it was like, “Put that away!” After months of hanging out with him, you realize that’s just what Jason does. I’ve seen his dick more than I’ve seen my own. So yeah, we weren’t friends right away. It took a while to percolate. For years, people would say “You guys must be best friends.” And I was like, “Well, we play best friends in movies.” But now, he really is my best friend. Every morning we get up at 10 a.m. and walk in the hills with our dogs. If you’re driving around the Hollywood Hills, periodically you’ll turn a corner and see Jay and Silent Bob walking their fucking dogs.
You co-host a podcast called Jay & Silent Bob Get Old. You’re 38 and 42. Is that what counts as old now?
KS: The title is more about making fun of ourselves before somebody else does. It steals their thunder. I remember suggesting the title to Mewes and he got really defensive and uptight about it. He was like, “We’re not old!”
JM: I don’t feel old, but I’m definitely feeling older. For me, the “get old” part is more about our history. We’ve been doing this shit for 25 years. We’ve had ups and downs. We’re not necessarily old, but you know.…
KS: [Laughs] You’re still defensive about it. You’re old, dude.
JM: Fuck that.
Jason, there have been more death rumors about you than about Paul McCartney. Is the sixth time someone reports you’re dead as scary as the first?
KS: The first was definitely the scariest, I think for both of us. People magazine called, I think it was during the Bennifer era, when I was shooting Jersey Girl, and asked “Do you have a statement on the death of your friend Jason Mewes?” I hadn’t seen Jason in months at that point. He was MIA, and I was like, “Oh God!” I gave a statement and hung up, and seconds later the phone rang again and it was fucking Mewes. He was like, “People are saying that I’m dead. But I’m not dead!”
JM: I had left California and was driving to Jersey to turn myself in.
KS: He had an outstanding warrant in New Jersey.
JM: It took me almost four months to drive across the country, because I kept stopping and partying. My car broke down in Tennessee in a snow storm, and my sister called to tell me people were saying I was dead. My cousin passed away and I guess people thought it was me. They found him ODed on the beach. That’s a long story.
In your podcast and live shows, you both share intimate details about your sex life. How do your wives feel about that?
KS: My wife learned early on that our life was fodder for conversation. She heard me tell a story about the first time we had sex—I cut my dick on her jeans zipper and it started bleeding and we had sex anyway—and she was like, “What the fuck is your problem? You told people we had unprotected sex and you had an open wound on your dick.” I was like, “Yeah, but it’s sweet. We fall in love, we wind up together. It’s a good story.” It was baptism by fire for her.
JM: I told a story the other night about how my lady was doing hot yoga at the gym and she queefed and it was so loud the person next to her heard it. Afterward she was like, “I didn’t say you could share that story!” She was embarrassed and a little upset. But then she’s like, “You guys sold out the place.” That for her outweighs the embarrassment.
You’ve worked with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Dogma, Chasing Amy and other films. Which one has the filthiest sense of humor?
KS: Absolutely Ben! I’ve kept e-mails from him from back in the day, just because they’re so hysterical and filthy and wrong. Ben is one of the dirtiest people I’ve ever met, dirtier than Redd Foxx. He’s probably cleaned up substantially now that he’s married. I don’t think his wife, Jennifer Garner, likes me very much. I worked with her on Catch and Release, and you could just tell she did not dig me or my sense of humor at all.
JM: Did you ever say anything to Ben?
KS: I talked to him about it at one point. I was like, “I don’t get it. I say the same fucking shit you do.” And he goes, “You don’t think I say that kind of shit to my wife, do you? Kev, you have to know your audience.”
A regular part of your live show is “Let Us Fuck,” when you act out strange sexual positions with audience members. Has life ever imitated art?
KS: Have we tried any of those positions at home? I haven’t. None of them look comfortable. There’s never been one where I’m like, “Honey, tonight we’re trying the Ewok Cock Block and the Donald Duck Mouth Fuck.”
JM: The Ewok Cock Block would be the one to try.
Kevin, you once claimed that Jason had sex with Nicole Richie in a public bathroom. The tabloids reported it and caused a minor controversy. Jason, did that discourage you from having sex in public restrooms?
JM: I can’t do stuff like that anymore. My lady is definitely not into it, even in my bathroom at home. I try, and she says, “I don’t want to fuck in the bathroom.”
KS: These are married women with beds. “Why should we do this?”
JM: Nothing against beds, but if I was still single, I’d be trying to do some bathroom situations. I can’t remember the last time I had sex in public.
KS: What about on the beach in Australia?
JM: Oh yeah, right.
KS: The sad thing is, he did it more for the story. We were in Australia, and he said, “I’m going to try to have sex with my lady on the beach.” I asked why, and he said, “Just so I can tell the story on a podcast.”
You both worked at a Quick Stop in New Jersey, which became the setting for Clerks. Were the high jinks as outrageous as in the movie? Did anybody ever have unwitting sex with a corpse?
KS: Never. What was beautiful about working at Quick Stop was it was like working at a fucking library. It was quiet. People would come in, buy their cigarettes, and fucking go. The closest thing to reality in the movie was there was always motherfuckers just leaning outside the building. Jay and Silent Bob came from those people. Every time I walked into the store or out of the store, there would be a bunch of 17-year-old kids leaning against the wall, hanging out or doing dope.
Jason, you apparently had a difficult time with the Jay character in Clerks even though it was based on you. What was the problem?
JM: It was just weird to say that dialogue. I’d look at the script and read a line like “Snooch to the nooch.” Even though I’d said those things a thousand times before, it was weird to say it when it’s lines in a script.
KS: He froze up like Cindy Brady on camera.
JM: When I was just being me, I didn’t think about what I was going to say. It wasn’t like I was thinking, Okay, I’m going to say this crazy thing and blow this guy’s mind.
KS: The character is a cartoonish version of who he was, and he was pretty cartoonish to begin with. He looked at it and was like, “Why would I say ‘Snooch to the nooch’?” And I’m like, “That’s a good question. Why do you say ‘Snooch to the nooch’?”
What does “snooch to the nooch” mean? Is it just gibberish?
JM: It started with “neh.” Like me and my buddies would make jokes and be like, “Neh.” It was a way of saying “I’m just kidding.”
KS: So they’d be like, “I fucked your mom. Neh.” But if you were like, “I fucked your mom” and there was no “neh” at the end, those are fighting words.
JM: And then it just transformed into “nooch.”
KS: It was like he’d start putting some Dutch twists on it. It went from nooch to snooch to snoochie snoochies to snootch to the nooch. And then there were times he would go on for like three minutes with a little improvisational song at the end. It was like Coltraine. And I’d be like, “I guess you really didn’t fuck my mother based on that song.”
Kevin, the hockey movie Hit Somebody was supposed to be your final film. Now you’re turning it into a TV miniseries and Clerks III will be your final film. Why are you so eager to retire? What’s the rush?
KS: The only reason we’re having this conversation, the only reason I got here, is because I fell in love—desperately, head over heels in love—with cinema. But one day, around the time I was doing Cop Out, I started to realize I’d taken my first love, Lady Cinema, and cheated on it by turning it into an ATM. It was what I did because I needed to pay bills. Film had been a passion, and then it became a job. Right now, I’m not the guy who made Clerks. I’m not the guy who used to go to movies and think, “Why didn’t they try harder?” Getting paid millions to make pretend for a living, it does something to you. It became a right and not a privilege.
You’ve told stories about you and Bruce Willis almost coming to blows on the set of Cop Out. Now that a few years have passed, do you have more insight into what happened? Was it his fault or yours?
KS: He’s called me a whiner for talking about it, but fuck him. He whined on set every day. “You want me to shoot before noon?” So if I’m a whiner, fuck you, you’re a bigger whiner. It was the first time I worked with somebody who was a paycheck player. Me, Tracy Morgan, Marc Platt the producer—all of us took massive pay cuts to make the movie because we wanted to work with Bruce Willis. Bruce took what he said was a massive pay cut and let us know repeatedly throughout the shoot that he wasn’t getting paid nearly enough for “this shit.” We really got into it at one point and I thought he was going to deck me. He was like, “You want to take a swing at me?” I was like, “I’ve worked with children who don’t behave like this.”
Can we point out the irony of a guy making a miniseries called Hit Somebody declining the chance to hit somebody?
KS: Yeah, that’s true. I might not have punched Bruce Willis, but I punched an owl, man. That happened.
You punched an owl? Please let there be an explanation.
KS: I was out on my deck one morning, everybody else was asleep, and I see this fucking owl coming at me. It looked like something out of an old Ridley Scott movie. There should’ve been a Tangerine Dream beat behind it. And he wasn’t flapping, he was gliding in. It was fucking spooky. I put the math together and I was like, “It’s going after my dog!” I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done or will ever do in my life. If Bruce Willis was going for my dachshund, I would have punched Bruce Willis like I punched that owl.
Jason, you were struggling to beat an addiction to heroin and painkillers around the time Kevin discovered he really enjoyed smoking weed. Did that put a strain on your friendship?
JM: Weed is awesome, but it’s not tempting to me because I never craved it.
KS: It would be like me being on a diet and somebody bringing in a flourless cake. Technically it’s sweet and it’s got sugar, but I don’t like flourless cake.
JM: If he’d started doing coke around me, that would’ve been different. Heroin, coke, speed—those were the drugs I craved and chased and woke up every day wondering how I was going to get more.
KS: I thought it was fair. You know what, motherfucker? I had to deal with you on fucking drugs all those years. Now it’s my turn.
Kevin, it’s been three years since you were kicked off a Southwest flight for being, in your words, “too fat to fly.” Has anything changed? Have the airline’s seats gotten bigger or your butt smaller?
KS: There were real world repercussions. I couldn’t go near an airport because I didn’t want my picture taken and shit like that. But shortly after it happened, I had these Q&A gigs coming up in Texas and I had to get to them. So I rented a bus. I talked to the bus place and they were like “How many people in the band?” And I’m like “It’s just me.” There’s a long pause, and then they’re “Are you that ‘Too Fat To Fly’ guy?” The bus was a revelation. I realized I could go anywhere, I could tour little clubs all over the country. That fucking opened up a whole new world. It was a waste of gas to take a bus across the country with just one guy, but I could bring my friends. And that turned into Smodcast, and all the podcasts we do within that. It was all connected. Because I can’t get on a plane, I take a bus. Because I took a bus, hey, I’ll take a bus with my friends and do this. It changed my life for the better. Not that I’m thankful or appreciative to Southwest. They’re still fucking awful. But things worked out.
Kevin, no offense, but you’re too fat to fly, and yet you landed a hot wife. Share your secrets.
KS: It’s all about the sense of humor. Also, when I met Jen [Schwalbach], I’d just come off an all-liquid diet I’d been doing for four months. Mewes was kicking heroin and I was on Optifast. But I looked good. If I was ever going to land a fucking wife, that was the window. She was working for USA Today and she interviewed me. And after the interview we sat around talking for two more hours. I did everything I could to be interesting and funny and human. I was in a zone. I asked her to be my date to the Independent Spirit Awards. I was nominated for Chasing Amy. She said yes, and then I remembered later I’d already asked Salma Hayek. I was working with her on Dogma, and she was going to come with me as a friend. So I literally had to go to Salma Hayek and tell her I wasn’t taking her to the Spirit Awards. She was stunned. I think it was the first time somebody ever canceled a date on her.
You once got into a Twitter feud with Neil Patrick Harris. Was that just a publicity stunt, or were you really pissed at him?
KS: He did some interview for that Harold & Kumar movie, and he was like, “The guys in our flick are real actors, not like that Jay character from the Kevin Smith movies.” He called Jason a drugged-out mess who just got stoned and did crazy shit and then we filmed him. It was offensive. This is a guy who hosts the Tonys and shit, criticizing another actor’s performance. I know for a fact that Jason is a good actor. I know who he is, I know what he does onscreen, and I know what it takes to do that. I threw some tweets out, calling Neil on it. And to his credit, he said, “Yeah, you’re right. In retrospect I was wrong,” blah blah blah. Regardless, you don’t go after another actor like that, because what you’re quietly saying is “I’m a better actor.”
Jason, you have the name of Kevin’s daughter, Harley Quinn, tattooed down your spine. Did you tell him in advance you were doing it?
JM: Oh yeah. I have lots of names on me. I think each name has a meaning. I can’t put all the reasons into words, but she means a lot to me. I got to see her grow up.
KS: What I’ve found over the course of knowing him for 25 fucking years is that as crazy as he is, all he’s ever craved is normalcy. Harley loves him, but there was a time when I had to sit Jason down and say, “Dude, you’re off the wagon again. I can’t have you around my kid.” He got the tattoo when he was clean and sober and you can tell it was a sobriety marker for him. When he was on drugs and he’d talk about the shit he wanted for himself, it was heartbreaking. He’d be like, “I wish I could fucking stop this. I want what you have. I want to get married and have a kid and live in a house.” All those earmarks of normalcy that most people take for granted, that’s what he wanted the most.
You’re a big hockey fan. You’re making a hockey movie, and you wear hockey jerseys constantly. Explain why it’s the greatest sport on earth.
KS: What’s beautiful about hockey is that passion is allowed. In baseball, you rarely see them hit each other when they get mad. In football, they run into each other, so there’s a lot of aggressiveness going on, but you rarely see them get physical beyond the actual play. But in hockey, you can get so passionate about the game that you drop your gloves and try to punch somebody in the face. And they’ll let you do it for a little bit. It’s one of the only sports that still allows for an unadulterated display of passion. That is how I connect to it. Maybe some people just want to see blood and shit. But to me, hockey is the ultimate metaphor for life. We’re all goal oriented. There’s always people in our way. There’s always people trying to stop you. You just got to make it to the net. Get beyond that person and that’s it. And you’ve just got to do that again and again. And goddammit, you’ve got to be passionate about it.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the June 2013 issue of Playboy magazine.)