Kevin Smith’s Clerks is still celebrated to this day for changing the face of filmmaking. A semi-autobiographical comedy, it mixed pop culture convos in with the unfortunate realities of life, all with an acidic tongue and snappy dialogue. Part of that success came from the iconic duo of Smith and actor Jason Mewes, who would launch the characters of Jay and Silent Bob into notoriety.
Believe it or not, that particular dynamic duo almost didn’t happen. As it turns out, Mewes was very camera shy when making those first few movies. This in turn prompted Kevin Smith to audition another Clerks actor as a backup plan, and all of these details found their way into the open during the promotion of the upcoming movie Clerks III.
Jason Mewes’ Battle With Camera Shyness During Clerks
New stories came from CinemaBlend’s interview suite at San Diego Comic-Con, which celebrated all things Clerks. Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and a handful of other cast members were on hand to dish on projects old and new. Our own Jeff McCobb asked questions that ran that gamut, and an interesting tidbit came out about how accurate Clerks III’s long awaited/semi-autobiographical storyline was when it came to the real production of Clerks.
In addition, Jason Mewes confirmed the new film’s plot, which features Jay being extremely camera-shy, was 100% accurate to his real life. Here’s what the star told CinemaBlend about the history behind that moment:
It’s hard to believe that Mewes, the same man who reenacted Buffalo Bill’s dance scene from Silence of the Lambs in Clerks II, was a camera-shy actor. Yet Kevin Smith always had faith in his best friend’s abilities, and called him out on that during this same sit-down.
Kevin Smith’s recollection of Jason Mewes’ shyness included a discussion that reinforced just how much of his life he wrote into Clerks (a movie Paramount+ subscribers can currently re-watch through streaming, at the time of this writing). Here’s how Smith and Mewes bantered about the dialogue when they were making that first film:
Digging further into the metaverse that occupies his life and his work, Clerks III sees longtime View Askewniverse favorite Randal (Jeff Anderson) going through a health scare himself. As we saw in the trailer for Kevin Smith’s next movie, one of New Jersey’s favorite smart-asses suffers his own heart attack and is motivated to make a movie of his own. If it wasn’t for Clerks history turning out the way it did, we may not have gotten that storyline at all due to Jason Mewes’ aversion to cameras.
The Actor Who Auditioned For Jay As A Backup Plan For Clerks
Diving deeper into the history of Clerks, Jeff Anderson revealed the characters could have gone in a different direction in Kevin Smith’s first film. Jumping in on the conversation about Jason Mewes' shyness, Anderson also revealed that instead of playing Randal, he might have had a totally different trajectory in the franchise!
Were it not for Mewes playing along and taking one for the team, Jeff Anderson could have been the alternative Jay to Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob. It’s not a notion that’s entirely wild, as Anderson has the snark and the general relationship with Smith to pull off the act.
No matter how much you puzzle over this "what if" scenario, it still doesn’t change the fact that Jason Mewes was the person to play Jay. That’s even putting aside the fact that Kevin Smith just wrote his best friend into Clerks as a fictional character. Friends like that speak a special language, which also includes the more outgoing person putting their hetero-lifemate “on the spot.” Smith knows that very well, as he admitted to being that sort of pal.
It's weird to think about this alternate history that almost was. Like, we may have wound up in a reality where Jeff Anderson’s Jay meant that we’d see an alternate casting like, for instance, Ben Affleck as Randal. I could go on, but the what if possibilities here are fairly endless.
Fans don’t have to worry about that, as in this universe, the View Askewniverse, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith are Jay and Silent Bob. Clerks III will be returning their shenanigans, and Mewes' ever-evolving comedic prowess, to theaters, on September 13th and 15th. You can also attend the live shows slated for Clerks III: The Convenience Tour, complete with accompanying Q&As.
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