Jason Mewes has had his share of ups and downs, but he’s living proof that getting old ain’t so bad
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes have been embroiled in Generation X’s signature bromance since the early ‘90s. As Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith) in the runaway indie success (in a decade of runaway indie successes) Clerks, the two forged an unlikely, yet iconic, screen partnership that has lasted for decades. Their onscreen bond, however, pales in comparison to the off-screen friendship the two have shared over the years, which has been marked by many ups and downs due to Mewes’ substance addiction. Mewes is clean now, however, and the Dynamic Duo is back together once again in animated form in the new film Jay and Silent Bob’s Groovy Cartoon Movie, which explores the characters’ super hero alter egos Bluntman and Chronic.
For this film, Mewes doesn’t only provide the voice of Jay but also acts as the producer. Though he says he was excited to see the project through from beginning to end, being producer meant he had to tackle logistical concerns such as how much it would cost, and who would direct and lend their voice talents to the feature. Luckily, he had enthusiastic friends who were eager to pitch in. Canadian animator Steve Stark, who has worked on Smith’s Smodimations for his production company with long-time pal Scott Mosier SModCo, was enlisted to direct. Eliza Dushku (who starred in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz and comic book/fantasy author Neil Gaiman lend their voices to the animated cast.
“For me, it was an easy one because, thank goodness, a lot of people we’d asked to be a part of it were super open to it and excited to be a part of it,” Mewes says of producing.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Mewes had been a part of the short-lived Clerks animated series also, which cost upwards of $422,000 per 22-minute episode, Mewes reports. As they would be funding Jay and Silent Bob’s Groovy Cartoon Movie, which runs three-times as long, themselves, Mewes enlisted the help of his wife, Jordan Monsanto, to help string out the budget.
“The harder parts, I handed over to my wife, and she had a talk to the lawyers and they said what we had to do once it’s finished, and what we had to pay,” Mewes says. “That type of stuff I left to her, and she’s really good at that. Between the two of us, it went pretty smooth.”
To promote the film, Mewes and Smith will be hitting the road, much in the same way Smith brought his horror film Red State to audiences. The Jay and Silent Bob’s Groovy Cartoon Movie tour will begin on April 20 (get it?) in Atlanta. Mewes says these live events will feature a screening of the film followed by a Q&A, live podcast and perhaps even some audience participation games.
“We’re going to show the cartoon and watch it with them, which I’m excited about, to see how the audience reacts to all the jokes,” Mewes says.
Our originally scheduled interview with Mewes was cancelled and rescheduled due to illness. However, two hours after our original interview time, Mewes called us back unexpectedly, ready to go. The following is a transcript of our conversation. As it turns out, Mewes’ new healthy lifestyle has had some drawbacks.
Hi Jason, are you feeling better?
Not really, but I had another interview, and I was going to cancel that one, too. It’s goofy, but I’m trying to do this juice cleanse. My buddies were telling me that it makes you feel really good and all that, and all I’ve got is this really, really bad headache and I feel horrible. And it’s only been half of a day doing it. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to hold out. The thing is, I don’t even know how good it is for you… My buddy said it’s really good, he felt so much better afterwards. I was like, OK, let’s try it. But it’s weird. I’m used to eating. I drink a lot of Coke and sugar. I feel like that’s giving me a bad headache.
I saw on your Twitter that you were trying a juice cleanse. I’ve always been morbidly fascinated with those. I don’t think I have the willpower to pull off something like that.
I’m learning that right now. I was like, yeah, I can do it for three days. That seems easy. Now it’s been like, seven or eight hours, but by the second hour, I was so hungry. If I’m doing two interviews, and it’s like an hour long, I’m like, if I’m hungry, I’m going to go make food. I keep doing that. I’m like, Oh, I’m going to go get food. But I can’t do that. I can’t eat food. I’m going to see what happens. I don’t know if it’s worth the headache. I’m not going to give up and eat a double-double Animal Style or a pizza, but something lighter I think.
How do you like doing voice work as opposed to acting on camera? Is it more difficult for you to get into voiceover stuff?
I do like the fact that you can just get in there and you don’t have to get in makeup and hair and getting wardrobe on and all that stuff. I love that, and I love seeing the animation, because you can be playing a monkey or a dragon or something like that…
Do I like it better than acting? I’d say I like them both equally, because acting is cool too. You get to put on cool clothes and shoot the guns and make out with girls. Especially being married, it’s sort of a loophole. I get to make out with attractive women if it’s written in the scene. It’s not bad! But both are lot of fun.
Honestly, I love everything about the entertainment business. I’d really like to direct more. I directed a music video and a PSA…it was a small PSA, but I still got to direct, and that’s a good feeling. And producing was awesome—getting to start something and watching it get finished. Everything to do with that, and traveling, and having people watch it and laugh, or when they get close to laughing but not laugh, all that stuff is just amazing.
You mentioned that being an actor is like a loophole for making out with other women. I saw a vampire movie you’d starred in, Bitten, on Netflix, which had a few racy scenes. How does your wife feel about stuff like that, and were you married at the time of that movie?
We were dating. She was onset for a couple of scenes. Luckily, she’s pretty cool with it. For one, I think she knows I’d never do anything. But I think she knows it’s the acting. Sometimes she’ll make funny little comments like, “You looked like you liked that too much,” so she’s always busting my chops. She doesn’t really care, which is good, because you’d hear on the set, “I told him I had to make out with someone in this scene and now he’s all pissed off.” Luckily that’s not the situation. My wife’s involved with the company and being a part of the travel and everything. Now we do these podcasts where all I talk about is sleeping with women and tea-bagging them and weird stories that have happened to me. When we started dating, I never really told her how many girls I’d slept with. Now through the years of doing the podcast [Jay and Silent Bob Get Old], she’s like, you never told me there were that many. I was like, well, you know, I didn’t think it was necessary to tell you the exact number. She likes that I’m working and not sitting around, because there have been moments when I relapsed, after we’d been dating for a couple of years, I relapsed, and for a period, I’d just sit around and be fucked up, and I was lying to her. In her head, I think she knows that I’m working and I love it, and that’s all there is.
I was listening to the podcasts today, a recent one you did. Is it a trip for you to think that you do these live events for quite a few people, and they come to hear you bullshit back and forth for a while? They’re basically just coming to hear you and Kevin have a conversation.
It is odd. And people will say they’ve traveled a four-hour drive or something like that. It’s surreal to think that it’s been going on for over 100 episodes. I remember wanting to do a podcast with Kevin, because I’d filled in for Scott Mosier once. We did it in Kevin’s office. I’d never thought about doing one live. Then we did one live, and I was like, wow, this is exciting. You could feed off the energy of the audience. I thought maybe we would go and tell the stories that I got high, and Kevin was pissed and upset, but then I got sober and then I didn’t and maybe it would go for 30 or 40 episodes and then we’d be out of stories, but then we just kept thinking of more and more. Now we’re traveling to Australia, London and Scotland, and I’m just like, wow, people want to hear us talk and we’re all the way in Australia?
It’s pretty surreal. The whole thing is.
Me being where I am is surreal. I didn’t plan on acting, I was roofing, and then Kevin said, “I wrote a character for you, and he’s based on the way you act—how you’re obnoxious and pull your balls out all the time.” I was like, sure. Now it’s 20 years later…
I remember seeing Clerks as a teenager. It’s crazy to think something that was done for such a small amount of money made such an impact. I don’t want to make it sound pretentious or anything, but everyone I know can quote that movie.
Yeah, it’s awesome. I can only imagine how Kevin feels. He talks about it, but, yeah, he had a bunch of people talking in a convenient store, and it changed his life—and my life. Him writing me in there, and the movie getting picked up changed both our lives. It’s surreal and amazing.
You were talking about some of the stories you’ve told on the podcast, and I heard Kevin say that this is like an effort to keep you on track with staying off drugs. And you’re really open on the podcast about pretty much anything. Is there anything you draw the line at?
Not so far. I feel like there hasn’t been much. Again, the whole purpose of that is that it does help. There hasn’t been anything, because I figured after telling people the first 10 episodes that I was shooting dope in toilet water, if people thought I was disgusting and didn’t respect me after that, then it didn’t matter what I said after that. I feel like being honest, and to me it helps. There hasn’t been anything I haven’t wanted to talk about yet, which is good, because I want to do more.
With characters like Bluntman and Chronic, the drug references are there. Being a recovering addict, is that something you’re squeamish about, to explore that kind of humor?
No, the character is a pot head, and I have nothing against pot. I think pot is good. I really think it helps people with illnesses who can’t eat. My mom was sick and passed now, but she couldn’t eat unless she smoked pot or took Marinols, which are THC pills, so I’m all for that. I don’t crave that, and I don’t crave alcohol. I like alcohol and getting buzzed and going out dancing and hooting and hollering, but I don’t crave that. That’s what the characters talk about. They don’t talk about smack or crack or oxycodones, which were my drugs of choice.
I heard on the podcast that Kevin is working on Clerks 3. Have you gotten a glimpse of that script yet?
Not yet. I hope that all works out, honestly. I hope that after we tour Canada and the United States with the cartoon and things go as planned, we’ll go into Clerks 3 right after that. I know that Kevin seems really passionate about the story he wants to tell, and I think it’ll be the perfect way to do a Clerks trilogy and put an end to that universe. Even though Clerks 2 was the last View Askew thing, but I feel like a Clerks 3 would just add to it. So hopefully that pans out.