Kevin Smith interview (March 2004)

March 15, 2004 | Interviews


Kevin Smith’s new film, Jersey Girl, is a story of love, loss and finding out it’s the little things that make life worth living.
Pretty heady stuff compared to the writer/director’s last flick, the stoner, road-trip comedy, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back.
“You really can’t get as far away from Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back as Jersey Girl unless we made a Merchant Ivory picture or a bloody Christ movie,” said the always sardonic Smith, in Toronto over the weekend for a speaking engagement in front of 2,600 people at Roy Thomson Hall.
Fans of the filmmaker, who was also behind such cult classics as Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, will realize the emotional themes of Jersey Girl aren’t that much of a stretch.
“(Jersey Girl) doesn’t occur to me as that different from Chasing Amy,” Smith said. “It’s really just a mixture of comedy and drama about relationships.”
The new film — which primarily deals with the relationship between a workaholic, widowed father (played by Ben Affleck), and his daughter (portrayed by newcomer Raquel Castro) — is Smith’s most personal piece of work since Chasing Amy, he said.
“Up until when my kid was born I was all about work — my career was the most important and best thing that ever happened to me. Then I got married and I thought ‘actually this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me’ and then we had a kid and I thought ‘no wait, this is the best thing’. Suddenly your priorities change,” Smith said.
Working on a whole production centred around a child actor was a growth experience, according to Smith, who said he encountered challenges on set he’d never had to face before.
“Part of my process is to be on set smoking all the time and then suddenly I had to worry about her little lungs,” he said. “I also couldn’t curse nearly as much. I suddenly found myself saying ‘fudge’ a lot on set.”
But Smith said he was extremely happy with Castro’s performance.
“I got out of her what I was hoping to get, which was that she didn’t come off as cloying or ‘movie-cute’ or irritatingly precocious,” he said. “She wasn’t one of these movie kids that you want to put through the fucking wall. She comes across like a real seven year old.”
And as for cleaning up his typical obscenity-laced dialogue for his first PG-13 picture?
“Once you remove Jay and Silent Bob from the equation, the movie becomes 80 per cent sanitized right there.”


The recent breakup of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, and their 2003 box-office flop Gigli, didn’t change much of Jersey Girl, Smith said.
“The only editorial consideration that I had to give their relationship in the movie is a shot where they get married,” the writer/director said. “Otherwise their relationship didn’t really affect the movie because it’s not really about them — it’s about (Ben) and (child actor Raquel Castro).”
Cutting the wedding scene was both a personal and logical decision, according to Smith.
“When they didn’t get married in real life, I, personally don’t feel good as a filmmaker leaving this shot in the movie because its going to distract,” he said, “We are now going to have people who are now going to be lifted out of our movie for 12 seconds.
“That’ll be 12 seconds where there’ll be people in the audience who read US Weekly or watch tabloid TV shows who are going to say ‘This is weird because they didn’t get married in real life — isn’t it creepy?’”
The sarcastic filmmaker said he was warned about the fragility of celebrity relationships before he began shooting, but decided it was moot point.
“When they first started dating people were saying ‘what if they break up?’ and I said ‘it doesn’t really matter because the movie’s not about them being together,’” Smith said.
“If Ben had been dating the kid and broke up with her — then that would have been a problem for us.”


Kevin Smith is a very busy man, who already has his next few years worth of projects lined up. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:
Green Hornet — big-budget, comic-book action movie
“I’m very excited about it, Smith said. “I’ve been writing comics for years, been a comic reader for years, so this seems like the logical progression.”
Fletch Won — comedic investigative journalist movie
“Fletch will have to wait for a year to a year and a half while we do Green Hornet,” said Smith, who adds he is still hoping to cast actor Jason Lee as a young Fletch.
Clerks Animated— uncensored cartoon movies
“Clerks animated I have to get around to writing,” he said. “We’ve decided to go straight to DVD and we’re hoping to have the first one out by Christmas of ’05.”

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