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It’s been 25 years since writer-director Kevin Smith debuted his Silent Bob persona in Clerks. A lot has happened since then: Kevin became a father, he cheated death, and the Marvel superfan assembled his own Avengers-esque crew of memorable characters—called the View Askewniverse—that all return for his latest flick, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot. So is it a reboot or a remake? We’ll let the man himself explain:
Kevin Smith: As you can imagine, this is the weirdest interview I think I’ve ever done in my life. More unexpected, I guess. I have no muscles and I know nothing about fitness.
M&F: Well, we’re gonna talk about your weight loss in a bit, but first, let’s talk Jay & Silent Bob Reboot (in theaters Oct. 15). There’s a hilarious scene in the new movie where Brodie from Mallrats (Jason Lee) explains to Jay (Jason Mews) and Silent Bob the difference between a reboot and a remake. So what’s the difference?
A reboot is when, you know, a studio takes a property and puts it out there in the hopes of getting your money. But they do it in a way that appeals to you as a fan. Whereas a remake is when a studio doesn’t really care how the audience feels about the original. So they just keep the title, f**k up everything else—and ruin both movies in the process. Three years ago, I wanted to make a movie called Jay & Silent Bob Reboot that’s going to make fun of remakes and reboots and sequels—while being all three at the same time. It took us a minute to get there because first we have to find money, and then I had a heart attack.
Timing is everything because in waiting to do it, you get Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Rosario Dawson, Joey Lauren Adams, and a slew of all-stars from your New Jersey-set View Askewniverse. Plus a bunch of amazing cameos by the likes of Joe Manganiello, Chris Jericho, and Chris Hemsworth.
I don’t get that cast unless I have the heart attack. If we tried to make the movie three years ago, we probably don’t pull that cast together. But post-heart attack, you call up people and be like, “Hey man, you want to come to New Orleans for two hours to shoot a movie?” And they’d be like, “I don’t know, dude, New Orleans is far.” And I’m like, “Bro, you do remember I almost died of a heart attack?” And then they would instantly be like, “All right, I’m coming, I’m coming.” The heart attack was almost like our casting agent!
This thing is one big nostalgia bomb that’s meant to go off in your face and heart. And so to have people who were in the original, like, not just Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, which we’re directly sequelizing, but also mini-sequels for Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, as well…That felt great. Suddenly it became, you know, this View Askewniverse class reunion picture and it came at the right time because I’d almost died. And also it’s the 25th anniversary of Clerks this year. So everything just felt like the timing worked out so sweetly.
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What’s up, Doc! A year and a half back, this super hero saved my life! Doctor Marc Ladenheim (husband of the even more talented @rikki_ladenheim_events) battled my Widow-Maker and won! 80% of the folks who have the kind of heart attack I had (100% occlusion in my L.A.D. – the artery that runs across the front of your ticker) don’t make it out alive. I was in the lucky, blessed 20% because of my hero here. I saw the good Doctor today for a stress test, in which they take pics of your heart, then put you on a treadmill and incrementally increase the speed and elevation, then take pics of your heart again. Turns out all that Runyon stuff has done this @WW Ambassador great good and left my heart in strong condition! The Doc said I’m doing great keeping the weight off and keeping up the cardio, then said “Come back in a year.” But this guy is my Batman; would you really wait a whole year to see Batman again if you could see him sooner? So I said “I’ll see you in six months.” When it’s your heart, you can never be too careful. But if something bad ever happens to your corazon? Find this guy! He’s a lifesaver. Like literally! #KevinSmith #heartattack #heart #cardio #ww #doctormarcladenheim #health #rikkiladenheimevents #wwambassador
And you got to poke fun at your infamous incident with Southwest Airlines [Kevin was kicked off a flight in 2010 for his size]. How cathartic was that?
Pretty sweet. Certainly no hard feelings, but the big guy, the Kevin Smith of that night is cheering on the Kevin Smith of today for, you know, taking back a little bit of his dignity.
But Southwest wasn’t what flipped the switch for you, rather the heart attack, right?
I did lose weight [after Southwest]. That was when I watched the Fed Up documentary and dropped sugar out of my life. I’d lost a chunk, but then I still had a bunch because my top weight at one point, I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m wearing my area code—323!” The biggest I got was 330. Other than removing sugar, I was still a meat eater and a dairy drinker. No bull**it—I used to drink two gallons of milk per day. That’s probably why I had a heart attack [laughs]. And so after the heart attack, and I had to change my eating habits.
I had a vegan kid at my house [daughter Harley Quinn Smith, who co-stars as Jay’s love child]. I never really thought about doing it myself until I had 100 percent blockage in my left anterior descending (LAD) artery. My doctor told me it’s called the Widowmaker because in 80 percent of the cases of a 100 percent blockage like I got, the patient always dies.
The next morning, the nutritionist was like, “You might want to think about a plant-based diet because it’s been proven to cut cholesterol.” And my kid was in the room, and she was like, “Dad, do it—please.” So I said, I’ll try it for six months, man, because clearly eating the way I wanted to eat after 47 years nearly killed me. That was over a year and a half ago. It’s been very easy to stay vegan.
What’s the secret to sticking to a diet?
I had to find a very thin path for veganism because I just don’t like f***ing vegetables. So you know, I’m like beans are vegan—that’s great. Chickpeas are vegan—that’s great. Peanut butter is vegan. You start making a list of the vegan things you can eat and stuff. Oh, I actually became a Weight Watchers ambassador! I’ve lost over 70 pounds.
What about workout-wise?
We live near Runyan Canyon, which is a great location for hiking. It’s a straight incline for most of it. So that’s become a big part of my regimen every day.
So did you put Chris Hemsworth in your movie as inspiration?
Oh, you wanna talk about a body from God’s own work! Chris and Ben [Affleck] were in incredible f***ing shape, man. It’s nice to have muscle-y examples around you to show you what’s possible. I’m not looking to put on the world’s biggest gun show. Maybe just a local gun shop.