When you ask people who clearly are upset what's wrong, they typically will reply "nothing," because they don't want to talk about it — or they will take the opposite approach and tell you exactly what's got them down, starting from beginning to end and sparing no details.
It's not hard to guess which approach Kevin Smith took when I posed the question last week.
The director and screenwriter of 1994's "Clerks" and 2008's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" — who will screen his self-financed superhero cartoon, "Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie," with Jason Mewes (who played Jay in "Clerks" opposite Smith's Silent Bob) Sunday at The Vic Theatre and take part in a Q&A afterward — is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. Smith has cried during his popular podcasts on his Smodcast Network while talking about everything from 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises" to his love for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and he got choked up several times during our 40-plus-minute conversation.
That is one of the main reasons why his films, as vulgar as they can be at times, still manage to have plenty of heart. It's also why Smith makes for such an honest podcaster — and in this case, interview. This is an edited version of a longer conversation.
Luis: I saw your tweet (May 8) ("I'm so [expletive] sad. This is nuts"). What's wrong?
Kevin: There's a big change going on in our lives. Meghan (Quinlan), who has been my assistant for five years — which sounds weird to say because she's become a sister, mother, conspirator and facilitator — she's moving back East to have a baby. She's leaving this adult baby to have a real baby, which is the most notable of all pursuits in life. The least I could do is be like, "Go, have a kid." But it's rocking our world. I had my kid and wife. I have a family. Now that's what Megan wants. I haven't felt this sad since my father died. Honestly, I think this feels worse. The last few years, my dad was on the other side of the country. I didn't see my dad as much. He wasn't a functional part of my daily life. This is like losing 16 people at once.
Luis: Sorry to hear that. I remember you raving about Meghan during your show at (last year's) "Just For Laughs" festival.
Kevin: Yeah, I met her on (2010's) "Cop Out." It was my first time directing a movie I didn't write. I didn't work with my regular people. It was unfamiliar. She was the first person I clung to. I feel like I'm in therapy, and I don't even go to therapy. A lot of people (expletive) on that movie. It doesn't matter to me. It will always be my special oasis. I'm literally making lists about what I did before Meghan and since Meghan to see if I can still do it. The last five years, I've done so much. And Meghan has been there for all of it. I'm writing "Clerks 3" and, thank God, there's some sad (parts) in "Clerks 3," because this is informing it.
(Smith tweeted Monday that he had finished the first draft of "Clerks 3.")
She's not dying, but that's what it feels like. There's intimacy beyond being intimate. Meghan has become an appendage. But this doesn't feel like I'm losing an arm — it feels like I'm losing a big chunk of my heart.
Luis: Will going back on the road for your film tour help you cope, or do you prefer to stay home when you're down?
Kevin: Nothing feels better than standing in front of hundreds of people who love what you do. (And) it's a win-win because this tour helps keep Mewes sober. He's been sober 1,041 days. I know this because he talks about it all the time. He never wanted to talk about it publicly before because he thought people would get grossed out about him shooting up (heroin), but I said, "Dude, just name it and claim it."
Luis: Why did you make "Super Groovy Movie" animated and not use actors like in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"?
Kevin: It's less expensive. Flash animation is now more affordable. Also, it doesn't require actors. It used to be that you couldn't make art unless someone gave you money. But now I'm older and wiser — and I still have a foot in the indie pool. I'll never be as indie as I want to be. I'm not (complaining). But I got absorbed into Miramax and was never indie again. My checks had Mickey (Mouse) on them. The "Red State" tour gave me the opportunity to cut ties. It was like (Hernan) Cortes burning his ships to motivate his men.
(Smith upset many in Hollywood when he tweeted that he would sell the distribution rights to 2011's "Red State" "auction-style" during the Sundance Film Festival, only to reveal at the screening that he was self-financing the movie and had misled them for pure entertainment.)
It was a real Dorothy-clicking-heels moment. It was productive and it's why I'm doing the "Super Groovy Movie" tour. I now know how to take a movie out on tour and keeps costs down. It's great for the fans and great financially. The money side takes care of itself quickly. We'll tour this movie before selling it on home video or whatever and it'll keep Jason off the sauce.
Luis: When you've said in the past that you will retire after "Clerks 3," what exactly did you mean?
Kevin: It's not me walking away. It's just me not doing movies for movie theaters anymore. The kind of stories I like to tell aren't cost prohibitive — people talking to each other. I'm able to control budget costs now. "Clerks 2" cost $5 million to make and had a $10 million advertising budget. I wish it was the other way around. How do I get away with not spending so much on advertising? By not taking the movie to the movie theater. It's that simple. There are so many other places to tell stories. I want to tell cool stories and not have to ask for permission.
Luis: Have you ever imagined what you'd say during an Oscars acceptance speech — especially after seeing your buddy Ben Affleck's memorable speech this year?
Kevin: Never once. I know it meant the world to Affleck because he got kicked in the mouth post (2003's) "Gigli" and (2004's) "Jersey Girl." If I won, I'd say "You guys rock for giving this to me." But the Oscars just aren't me. I don't want to be a part of it. I think it's weird. You don't grade art. Let art be art. Last year I loved "Argo," "Django Unchained," but I think the best film was "Take This Waltz" with Seth Rogen. I thought it was profoundly moving and the only film that said something new that made me think, "I never thought about that." It ties into Meghan leaving. After Seth Rogen gets broken up with he said something that floored me: I thought you'd be with me when I died. I love "Argo," but they didn't have that honesty. There were (nine) slots (for best picture), you're telling me ("Waltz") couldn't have been nominated?
Luis: Thanks for your time and for being so open.
Kevin: Thanks for listening. I know it got kind of emotional there in the beginning.
Luis: I remember you tearing up talking about "Batman: The Animated Series" on your "Fat Man on Batman" podcast. I think it's kind of sweet that you get emotional about the things you're passionate about.
Kevin: I'm emotional about a lot of things. I know some people are like "Man up," but I think an emotional response is valid as long as it doesn't have a violent end. You should be allowed to fill up a bucket with tears. I've been doing a lot of that lately.
'Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie'
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Vic Theatre, 3145 N Sheffield Ave.
Tickets: $38.50 at victheatre.comCopyright © 2015, CT Now