Heart attack encourages Kevin Smith to make another 'Jay and Silent Bob' movie
By RICK BENTLEY | Tribune News Service | Published: October 9, 2019
LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Smith was about to go in for heart surgery in early 2018 when his doctor informed him the odds were high he would not survive because he had what doctors call a "widowmaker heart attack." Despite assurances by the man who was about to perform the operation that all would go well, Smith began to reflect on his life.
"I felt at peace because I decided it made sense. I never ate that well and my mom and dad had a bad heart," Smith says. "I wasn’t mad or desperately clinging to life because everything had worked out. It was a short life, but what more could I have asked for?
"I had a great mother and father, great brother and sister, great friends. I built this weird career that is uniquely (expletive) yours that no one will ever try again. Then because of this career, you meet this woman, fall in love and made a great (expletive) kid. What more do you want?"
There was one thing.
Chances were high that at age 47, he could die and the last movie he made would have been "Yoga Hosers," a 2016 film that made under $40,000 at the box office. Smith knew if he survived, he had to make a better movie that could be part of his legacy. He came through the surgery and has kept his promise to himself by going back to the biggest success in his filmmaking career with "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot."
One year to the day of having his heart attack, production started on "Reboot." Played by Smith and Jason Mewes, the stoner icons who first hit the screen 25 years ago in "Clerks" hit the road when they learn Hollywood is rebooting an old movie based on them. The cast -- many agreeing to be in Smith’s low-project production by using his heart attack as a bargaining tool -- includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, Val Kilmer, Justin Long and Jason Lee. There’s also a short tribute to Stan Lee, who Smith planned to use in a larger role in the film before the comic book legend died.
The film will be in more than 600 theaters stateside on Oct. 15.
To be fair, Smith had been thinking about bringing Jay and Silent Bob back to the big screen for five years with "Clerks 3." That idea never came together and Smith is happy now because the film he had in mind was extremely dark and "obsessed with death." Smith decided after his heart attack that he will never write about death. Plan B for Smith was to write "Mallrats 2," but that didn’t happen because of contract problems.
"I was frustrated because I was twice stymied to make something I want to make. I am indie and kind of used to doing what I want to do. Sometimes you make ’Yoga Hosers’ and no one gives a (expletive) but you do what you want to do," Smith says. "I decided that since we own Jay and Silent Bob, we didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to do it."
All of the films featuring Jay and Silent Bob have been snapshots of who Smith and Mewes were at the time. The basic idea of Jay discovering he’s a father in "Reboot" was obvious to Smith. He had never thought of his on-screen partner having any paternal instincts until Mewes became a dad. Smith saw how good Mewes was at raising his child that he was sad he became a father first because he could have learned about parenting from Mewes.
Smith cast his own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, to play Mewes’ daughter in "Reboot." He knew that would make the acting easier for Mewes because he had seen Smith’s daughter grow up and already had an emotional connection to her.
"Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" is the latest work from Smith, who along with making movies, is a comedian, author, comic book store owner, podcaster and writer of comic books. His past films include "Chasing Amy," "Dogma," "Tusk" and "Red State."
Now that he has survived the heart attack and made the film he would be comfortable with being his legacy, Smith has a very positive outlook on life.
"I am not really angry at the heart attack because it really saved my life. I was never going to get in shape or get healthy," Smith says. "It made the movie so much more dramatic because it’s no longer ’Hey, let’s make a Jay and Silent Bob movie.’ It became that this has to stand as a (expletive) testimony to everything I have done, said or thought in this (expletive) life."