Kevin Smith’s protégé—the foul-mouthed, long-haired wonder who stole the screen in ‘90s cult classics like Clerks and Mallrats—opens up to Maxim about his new project, how Jay & Silent Bob came to be, superheroes, and his famous catchphrases. Plus, he answers the same 10 questions we always ask everyone.
You’re starring in a new series called Vigilante Diaries, which debuted this week on the video startup site Chill. Give us an overview of the show and your character.
I play a character, Mike Hanover, who’s all about editing and shooting documentaries and webisodes and what have you, and he winds up getting to do a ride-along with this vigilante – there’s a vigilante who’s all over the news, who’s been breaking out bad guys and stuff – and I wind up getting to go do a ride-along with him to see him in action and get it on camera. Eventually he gets caught up in the middle of a big shootout and then a bunch of craziness happens, but I don’t wanna give away too much from there.
Would you say it’s a comedy, or more of an action series?
It’s not really meant to be comedy, but I know people have said that my character is really funny just narrating into the camera. I guess because I’m so goofy on the regular it comes off that way, but it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be like, “Hey, I’m going to talk to this camera, and make everyone laugh." But it’s good that there’s a little fun.
For the uninitiated, what exactly is Chill.com? Is it basically Kickstarter for movies and TV?
It’s sort of like Kickstarter in the sense that you get to watch two episodes, and if you like it [and support it], then more get made. We were able to get financed by Chill in order to make two episodes, but we have 10 written. We would like to do all 10, so if people support it, awesome. They also have this social gifting where if you like the episodes and you’re all about it, you can buy it for a friend for their birthday or whatever, which is different. You just click on a button and you gift it to someone else.
The characters you play are often really into superheroes and comics and what not. Is that a case of art mimicking life?
I’m totally into comic books and action and all that other stuff – I mean, seriously, I was just playing Call of Duty before you called – so I’m huge into gaming and I’m huge into comic books. I’ve been reading comic books since I was like 12. That’s how Kevin [Smith] and I started hanging out. And now we have a comic book store in New Jersey, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, which is where they shoot Comic Book Men for AMC. So yeah, I’ve just always been into comic books, superheroes, and gaming, First Person Shooter games, you know, all that shit.
Do you have a favorite superhero (or villain)?
Yeah, I’d say Deadshot is one of my favorite characters. He was in a miniseries of Batman and he was in the Justice League cartoon; he was in Smallville, and he’s in Batman: Arkham Asylum (but not in his costume, which is a bummer); and he’s in that new show Arrow, which is pretty good even though it’s on the WB or CW or whatever. But anyway, yeah…Deadshot. He’s my favorite character.
Prior to Clerks, did you have any acting experience? Were you essentially playing yourself, or is Jay strictly a character dreamed up by Kevin Smith?
Well, it was scripted, but the character was based on me. Kevin and I do a podcast called “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old,” and in it, Kevin explains that after years of hanging out, he thought I was really silly and obnoxious and funny, and he wondered if other people would find that sense of humor obnoxiously funny. And he says that he thought, “Man, someone should put you in a movie.” And then when he wrote Clerks, he was like, “I’m gonna put him in a movie.” So, it was all dialogue written by Kevin, with a little bit of ad-libbing, but most of it is stuff that I had said or done. I used to dance and mosh and stuff on the front of this church wall where we all used to hang out in Highlands [New Jersey], and do all this silly stuff, yelling all kinds of obnoxious stuff at girls. So Kevin just remembered, and wrote it down on paper.
Are you still a lot like Jay, 20 years later?
Yes, and I would say I’m still that obnoxious, but it’s more 60/40 these days, because I’m older now and I can’t get away with pulling my balls out and stuff like I used to. Now I’m old enough where I can get myself in trouble. When Kevin wrote the character, from when I was 13, or even earlier – say 11 to 19 or 20 – I acted exactly like that. Everything besides selling weed – I never sold weed, but I smoked a lot of weed. But I used to hang out in front of Welsh Farms Grocery in Highlands, and we’d dance, we’d pull our balls out, and yell stuff to women. But, you know, now it’s different.
Were you surprised by the extent to which Clerks and the characters of Jay and Silent Bob took off?
Yeah, definitely, I mean after we shot Clerks, I was working in roofing, and I’d roof all day and then at night we’d shoot the movie. And then I went back to work, and I didn’t even know the whole process like, “Oh when you’re done shooting an independent movie, you can bring it to film festivals and it could possibly get picked up,” and even after it did get picked up I didn’t think anything about it. I mean, I’m not even on the poster. The Weinsteins (Miramax, at the time) didn’t even single us out; they weren’t really talking about our characters. And it wasn’t really until after Mallrats that people started being like, “Your characters, Jay and Bob – what rock did these two crawl out from under?” That’s when I started being like, “Wow, people are really digging the characters, and talking about us in interviews and stuff.” That’s sort of when I thought, “Maybe this is something I can do besides roofing.” I quit my job and I did an independent movie, Drawing Flies, right after Mallrats, but I still didn’t think that Kevin would then make Chasing Amy and Dogma and keep writing Jay and Bob in there, and that all of a sudden we’d have a comic book store with merchandise, with shirts and hats and all this stuff. And then we did a cartoon and comic books and action figures. But even when all that started, I still didn’t think that 20 years later we’d be doing a podcast called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.” I had no idea, really.
There are so few characters that get to appear in multiple movies that aren’t really sequels or prequels, and yet Jay and Silent Bob keep popping up everywhere, and it feels totally normal.
I agree with you, and it’s cool because we even got to be in Scream, a movie that wasn’t even Kevin’s or from the View Askew-niverse. It's definitely been pretty awesome, and it’s still surreal, to this day.
How often do fans try to smoke pot with you?
I would say almost every Q&A/podcast, event, signing, whatever. Whenever we’re at an event to meet a bunch of fans, I would definitely say at least one person always tries.
The downside of being one half of Bluntman and Chronic, I guess…
Yeah, and it’s funny too, because, people will sit through two hours of us doing the podcast, where I talk about battling drugs and being sober now, and how I don’t drink or smoke or anything now, and people will still ask if I want to smoke a joint afterwards.
What dicks. Maybe they’re just thinking, “Oh, but it’s just weed, it doesn’t count.”
Yeah, I just don’t think they get it. And I don’t think anything’s wrong with weed, I think weed should be legalized…and it really has medical uses. So I’m all for weed, but for me, being sober, and in the program, and in the mindset of doing no mind-altering things…I can’t smoke.
I have to ask about your infamous “Snoochie boochies” catch phrase. Where did that come from?
Well, it started right around when Kevin wrote Clerks. Before Clerks, it used to be just ‘Nehh,’ – like, me and my buddies would all joke around, and I would be obnoxious and be like, “Yo man, I like to touch your mom’s titties,” and then I’d be like, “Nehh, nehh,” and that would mean I’m just kidding, you know, I don’t really want to touch your mom’s tits. But then it just went from “Nehh” to “Nooch” to “Snooch,” and then it just kept changing, until it was like, “I’m gonna touch your mom’s tits…Snoogins.”
Besides that, is there any line from your movies that people are always quoting at you?
I would say “Boo boo kitty” [from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back] and also the “Dutch Rudder” [from Zack and Miri Make a Porno] – those are two of the biggest. And also, people always want me to sing “The Fuck Song.”
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
Uh, farting in bed with my wife under the covers.
What’s your favorite curse word or phrase?
Fuck face. Oh, well my favorite curse word is fuck face, but my favorite phrase is, “I want to fuck your face.”
Perfect. What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?
You know, I think they were all bad, really. All hangovers are bad. You wake up at 6 in the morning, you’re hungover but you’re still sort of drunk, you try to recall everything you’ve done throughout the night – and that used to happen to me every time, because I blacked out most of the time, so…
What was your first car?
It was a Caprice Classic. Well, you know what, I shared that car with Kevin. My first car that was mine was a Volkswagen Jetta.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
Yeah, right on my forehead. Well, I have a few. My better one is right on my kneecap. I was at the beach trying to show off, and I was breakdancing and doing the worm. And while I was doing the worm I came down on a piece of glass and cut open my knee.
Do you have a party trick?
I used to have a party trick. Me and my buddy used to do the Kid ‘n’ Play dance. You know that one where they’d clap their feet together and stuff from House Party?
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
A set of double Ds… Have you ever asked a girl that question and they’ve answered “a 12-inch dick” or something?
You know, girls often do not want to answer that one… What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?
I don’t know, go for the throat?
Who was the last person to see you naked?
Um, I’d say my wife. I mean I would like to say a good answer, but it is my wife.
And finish this sentence: “If I ruled the world for a day I would….”
If I ruled the world the world for a day, hmmm. Am I single or married?
Either one, if you rule the world it’s up to you.
Well it depends, because if I was single, I would say if I ruled the world, I would probably try to sleep with as many beautiful women as possible. But because I’m married I couldn’t do that, so if I ruled the world as a married person I would say...I’d rule it.
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