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While it’s a movie that still stings writer/director Kevin Smith just a little bit when mentioned, Jersey Girl is still a movie that the man behind the various films in the View Askewniverse holds near and dear to his heart. And if it wasn’t for a very important suggestion, it sounds like Smith would have cast none other than Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back co-star Eliza Dushku in the very role that would have went to Jennifer Lopez.
I loved working with Eliza Dushku. She was always so funny and real. I handed her a rewrite where her character got to say 'Bring it on,' and she said 'I saw what you did there, Smittles.' I wanted to cast her in Jersey Girl before Ben suggested JLo.
As much as it was easy for Kevin Smith and cameoing co-star Carrie Fisher to bond over a pair of beaver chairs, all it took was a very sly reference to the very recent Bring It On to put Eliza Dushku on the short list for a Jersey Girl role. And that would have been a pretty different movie from the one that audiences saw in the end, as Ben Affleck’s suggestion that his then-girlfriend play the role of his on-screen wife would define the rest of this movie’s history.
Just as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s breakup became fodder for the headlines, Jersey Girl found itself released to crowds that weren’t exactly thrilled with what it had to offer. Outside of the fact that its on-screen romance was tinged by very off-screen image shifts, the 2004 movie wasn’t what folks expected from the man that taught the world how to Stink Palm. So while some might have said that the box office for Jersey Girl was put on ice thanks to the curse of Bennifer, it wasn’t entirely the truth.
Thinking of how Eliza Dushku could have played Jennifer Lopez’s character in Jersey Girl does set one’s mind into motion about how things could have played out differently. Not only would Kevin Smith’s comfort level with the actor have been a plus in the production process, the avoidance of romantic baggage between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s breakup might have saved the film some of the ire it unjustly drew.
As the current chain of events stand, Jersey Girl tanked, but Kevin Smith kept on trucking into the future of his career through various other films that would take him in and out of his View Askewniverse. And as for Eliza Dushku’s career, she would go on to star on the cult classic series Soul Survivor and Dollhouse, as well as reunite with Smith for Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie! in 2013.
Some would say that these sorts of things happen for a reason, and for all we know, there might be room in the future for Eliza Dushku and Kevin Smith to reunite yet again. If there’s anything that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot has proven, it’s that Smith’s really good at the whole reunion thing.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is available to rent or own on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD; while the legacyquel Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is also available through such means, as well as currently being streamed on Prime Video with membership. And if you’re so inclined, Jersey Girl is currently available for streaming on HBO’s various digital platforms.