Jason Mewes Looks Back At 'Clerks' And Beating Drug Addiction On His 40th Birthday
Jason Mewes is growing up. It's been 20 years since he made his debut as one-half of the pot-smoking duo of Jay and Silent Bob. Long ago are the days where the foul-mouthed Jay would shout out "snootchie bootchies" and do a little dance in front of the New Jersey Quick Stop convenience store in Clerks.And on June 12, he's celebrating his 40th birthday with his longtime buddy and collaborator, Kevin Smith, with a special event at the Comedy Store in Hollywood; it's a live recording of their hit podcast, Jay & Silent Bob Grow Old, and they'll be telling a handful of Mewes' best birthday stories. (We can only imagine how crazy those stories would be, knowing Mewes.)
On the weekly podcast, Mewes and Smith, who've been friends for 25 years, have already tackled 144 episodes since the show debuted in 2010. They talk candidly about their old hijinks together to Mewes' former drug addiction. Mewes also uses the podcast to stay accountable for his sobriety, as he always tells his listeners how many days he's been sober. (When LAist spoke to Mewes a couple of weeks ago, he told us he had been 1,427 days sober.)
Since starring in a number of Smith's films, like Mallrats, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Mewes has been taking other roles including a mobster role opposite Harvey Keitel in The Last Godfather. And he ventured out of the acting realm and had his first producer credit for the animated Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie that was released last year.
Mewes chatted with us, looking back at his early days on the Clerks set, how the podcast saved him from his heroin addiction, and how many "snootchie bootchies" shout-outs he still gets on the streets.
On Kevin Smith writing Mewes' character in "Clerks":
[Kevin] had mentioned it to me. I knew he liked to write and stuff, but it really wasn’t something like here when I have buddies in California that are like, "Hey I’m writing a script." I believe they’re writing a script and I understand what they’re trying to do.
Then, I was roofing when I graduated high school, Kevin was working at the Quick Stop and he’s like, "I’m writing a script and I’m writing a character for you," and I was like, "Yeah, okay cool." And even when he was done and he’s like, "I want you to be in the script. We’re going to shoot and I used my own my money…" I just thought, "Oh yeah, so like 10 of us are going to get one of those big VHS shoulder cameras that families used to use to videotape Christmases and stuff and we were just going to shoot some fun stuff."
It wasn’t until I went to New York with him and he rented a camera and started getting all this equipment and we actually started shooting when I was like, "Wow, you were serious—you want to make this." But even after that, we shot it and I didn’t know the process. I didn’t know he could bring it to a film festival and hope that people could see it and they could buy it and it could be on a big screen at some point...
And I went back to roofing and it wasn’t until Mallrats where I was like, "Wow, this is something that maybe I could do."
Here's a clip of Mewes and Smith in 1994-film Clerks. Be warned: there is some salty language that's NSFW:
Were Mewes lines improvised in Smith's films?:
Clerks was scripted. As the movies went on, I started to get more comfortable and starting doing more ad-libbing. I was super nervous. When we did Clerks I used to make everyone go inside—we talked about that on the podcast, actually. When we started shooting, I didn’t realize how nervous I would be. Because when he wrote that script and wrote that character, it was exactly how I might have come off when I was 13 or 14, and that’s exactly how I acted all the way up until I was 17 or so. I’d yell obscenities, I’d pull my business out and I would dance and do really obnoxious stuff. That was exactly how I was. Even though I acted that way, I don’t know why when I got in front of a camera and it was like "Action, we’re ready to go," I couldn’t do it. I would get really nervous and would be like, "Can everyone go inside that doesn't need to be here?"...
And when I did Mallrats, I got more comfortable. So, as time went on, I did more ad-libbing. Dogma and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back—there was more ad-libbing going on. Also, Zack and Miri.
On his first days on the podcast
[Kevin] had written a section in his book called “Me and My Shadow” and so he sort of told his perspective on the first time we ever met and hung out, when he told me that he wrote me in this movie—Just a lot of different stuff. It was his perspective in the first eight episodes. And probably about the middle of the first episode, we’re live and there are people watching us. The first seven I would just listen and I would chime in a little bit. By the eighth one, he went off for like 20 minutes talking and I was listening to him and really involved in his story that he’s talking about me, and all of a sudden he turns to me, and was like “What do you think?” And I wasn’t prepared because the whole seven episodes live, he did all the talking.
If Mewes still gets recognized as Jay on the streets:
Not all the time. I think people will just come up and be like, “Hey, you're that guy and I love your stuff" and all that. And they stand there sort of quiet and I think they expect me to do a little dance. Some people will just come straight up and say, "Hey, can you say 'snootchie bootchies'" and stuff like that. I think people either ask me to say something or they’re waiting for me to do something and I’m not [acting] obnoxious. When I meet someone for the first time I’m not pulling my stuff out or doing a dance for them and I think they think I’m going to.
What it was like for Mewes to be a producer on Jay & Silent Bob's Groovy Cartoon:
That was great because that was the first time I really got to be part of the process from beginning to end. I got the script, I found the animators from Stark...[worked on] the characters and voiceovers and scheduling it and being part of the sound mix…
So that was just amazing. It was a way different feeling to sit there in the theater while we screened it for the first time for a full audience, listening to them laugh at all the different stuff.
Here's the trailer for "Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie":
How the podcast helped him grow, build his friendship with Smith, and stay sober:
Kevin and I have known each other forever and we’ve always been close, we’ve always hung out. It’s also been a sort of an older brother type of relationship where I’m doing something, messing up, or whatever, maybe not trusting me with business stuff because I’ve always been sort of goofy and silly and not very responsible. But I feel like over the past four years, we’ve spent so much time together and I’ve shared so much stuff, so now we’re actually best friends and partners in a company and our business and touring business. It hasn’t just helped him and I but it’s also helped me by sharing all the different stuff with the drugs, the struggles with the drugs and going back and forth. [It's] getting things out and not holding it in and being accountable to all the people who listen to the podcast.
I’ll go to starbucks and someone will be like, "How many days have you been clean?" One out of every ten shows, someone will come up and tell me [something like], "I have a brother who struggled with drugs and got out of rehab and struggled and the podcast has helped him stay sober."
It’s just surreal and amazing. If it's me just talking about all these stories and talking about how much I struggled...and to keep even one person sober, like, I don’t know, I didn’t expect that and that’s just amazing...
In the beginning first six months—the first year even—of us doing the podcast, I remember you just have dreams about drugs or drinking or whatever and I would wake up and be like, “Oh my gosh, we have a show this week. Now I have to tell everybody.” And I’m like, "Wait, that was just a dream." And I’d wake up in a sweat.
"Jay & Silent Bob Get Old: Jason Mewes' 40th Birthday Show" will be at the Comedy Store located at 8433 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood on June 12 at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. More information can be found here.