2019 marks 25 years since Kevin Smith’s debut feature Clerks. The indie black and white movie told the long shift of two clerks who spend their time lamented on life and dealing with very troublesome customers. The film would launch Kevin Smith’s filmmaking career and introduce audiences to the comedic duo that is Jay and Silent Bob. Suffice to say, Clerks remains a cult classic with its legion of fans many years since release.
To kick off the celebrations of Clerk’s 25th anniversary, members of the cast were in attendance at MCM Comic Con London this past May. Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Scott Schiaffo met fans and took part in panels over the weekend. Bunkazilla was lucky to be part of the press conference panel at the event where we got the chance to put questions to Brian, Marilyn and Scott.
Press Question: Why is there so much love for this very little bit, very beautiful piece of cinema, you guys made?
Brian: The great thing about the first Clerks film was that Kevin was able to capture what he was living as he was working a retail job in a local community. It’s now becoming a trend, especially in the last 20 years, being over educated and unemployed and not having the proper kind of jobs that fill the education you want to get is a draining thing. Society is doing it a lot these days. There’s a lot of people that have great education and loads of education and debt. The jobs weren’t there. So he took it in a very microcosm way, just a convenience store clerk (Dante) wanting to have a better station in life.
Having his friend (Randal) who was happy with his station in life at that time and just poking a finger in the eye of things and observations that he has. So you’ve either worked at a very crappy retail job or you’ve been in a store where the retail clerk was really crappy at their job. So it relates to you either as a customer or as an employee. Plus, the success that Kevin has had with his succeeding films afterwards has kept his work in the limelight for so long.
And, the fact that we’ve had careers for 25 years in this industry is testament to how writing what you know and writing what you love and sticking to you. Be you! Don’t try to be what you think people want of you but what is right for you. Make for you. Make the film you wanna tell, not what you think the people wanna see. You’ll find your audience and your audience will support you going like, “Yeah, man, I’m Silent Bob” or “Yeah, man, I’m that, that weak willed Dante Hicks,” or “Hey man, I’m that fouled mouth Randal, spitting water at life kind of guy.” So there’s characters for everybody in the film that I think people can relate to.
Press Question: You’ve inspired a lot of people to go into the acting business. What’s your advice to anyone wanting to get into acting?
Marilyn: Train and know the reasons why they want it. Because I’ve come across very many people who they just wanna be rich and famous and that’s so not the reason to be in this business.
Brian: Kim Kardashian (Panel and Press laughter)
Marilyn: I mean it’s, it’s not gonna happen that quickly and you may or may not get rich and famous. It’s the passion that’s going to keep driving you to do it over and over. The last year for me has been very difficult just living and I’ve had to kind of re-assess. It’s like, do I go out and find a 9:00 to 5:00 job? Um, but if I do that, I can’t do acting and I cannot give it up. I can’t. I was really in that position so the passion just keeps on driving it.
Scott: Yeah. I agree, it’s all passion. I believe that in the arts it kinda chooses you. You don’t choose it. Somebody told me years ago if you think you can be happy doing anything else, go do it. But if you believe this is really for you, then strap in and realize there’s gonna be a lot of hard knocks; but you have to have the passion for it. It’s that simple. I had a high school drama teacher that told me “Don’t even think of it!”. But I had such passion and such desire and, probably at that point, just a lot more nerve to just keep going. Luckily, I found some great training and I hit an age where it began to work out a little better and I was doing better at it. It’s like anything that somebody is naturally born do or wanna do. It’s just hard to walk away from it.
Brian: I will say, especially on the acting, you should be able to hear the word “no” 85% of the time. The “no” isn’t because you suck. The “no” isn’t because you can’t do what they’re asking you to do. The “no”, a lot of time, especially in television and film is because you’re not the right physical type. You’re not the right type of ethnology that we’re looking for. Another reason is they’ll say “We have so and so cast already, and I just don’t see the two of you being a chemistry kind of thing.”
I get the question, all the time, asking how was it working with Rosario Dawson in Clerks 2? Because films wouldn’t pair us two together normally in Hollywood. However, Kevin thought to do it, and as much as the Dante character is a hideous fucking child – as Kevin likes to say- it worked. You kinda see why the chemistry worked with those two characters. As an actor going through the training, I started and performed in theater for quite a few years before even auditioning for my first film, which was the original Clerks. It is having that passion but also being considerate to everybody who’s involved in the project. There is no one who I don’t ask “Hey, what’s your name?” and there’s no one who I go “I want my coffee. Where’s that boy, my co… [mimics spit take] oh, there’s too much sugar in this.” I’ve never been that way in my life ever.
And people are like, “Oh, you’re so cool and so nice, uh, I wanna thank you for being…” and I’m like, “Don’t thank me, thank my parents.” I was brought up in an Irish Catholic household. My parents and my two older brothers all born in Ireland in Galway, the West coast. They immigrated to New York city in 1965 and then I was born in 1969 and then we holidayed back in Galway and then I’d visit family up in Birmingham or in London. After this weekend, I’m going down to Hyde to visit my aunt. My mother’s already down there because she flew in with me and we’re gonna have family get togethers. But it’s that kind of upbringing that kept me on the straight and having friends keep me…
Brian: … yeah, grounded. I was a huge, I mean, I’m still a huge uber nerd! I did table gaming and role play gaming and it was the role play gaming that kept me sane and off the streets. My father passed away when I was 15 years old. So that was the kind of thing that got me grounded. I left the real world to get into the fantasy world and doing D&D and all these other games, which is why with nerd culture and these cons, I’m completely right in that same vein and I’m proud of it too. You know mutant and proud? Well, I’m nerd and proud. (Panel and Press Laughs) So it’s the same thing.
I don’t deny it. This has always been, I was just talking to someone about this. I will say, “Cons are a safe space. There’s no one who comes in here and we judge them.” You know, we have cosplay costumes, but they knew what they were getting into a contest. (Panel and Press Laughs) But there’s no judging at cons. You could be whatever character you wanna be. You can think about, you can have fandom about anything. You can hear the occasional Star Wars, Star Trek arguments about which is better, or Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or whatever you have it. But we’re all that community of nerds, which also I love about it. All the politics that happen outside, all the world events, all the horrors that are happening, natural and man-made. When you walk through these convention doors and people go like, “Are you sick of doing conventions and hearing people go “Hey, you were supposed to be here today?” No, I love it. Because we’re all here for the same reason with the love of art. We’re all part of artists.
Comic books are arts. Like in America, I always talk about funding the schools, funding the arts. We’re all cutting these programs to fund sports. Sport’s great. It’s a great, great thing to kind of have kids do, get outdoors, be involved. But artists… We all got dressed today. You may not all be artists at all, but when you got dressed and you went to your closet, and took out of your drawer and you saw your shirts, you pick this color because it went with those pants, it went with that shoe. That’s an artistic choice. That was taught to you. Color, shapes and coordination. So I get passionate about it because I don’t wanna see the arts die. So, that’s my little spiel of the arts. And being an actor from your question.
Press Question: Are there particular organic memories, things or stories that fans perhaps don’t know that makes you smile the most or, or you think are the most poignant?
Marilyn: A lot of it is actually starting to kinda get fuzzy a little bit. I’m one of those triggered memory type of people. So it’s like all of a sudden we’ll just kinda be talking about something and then it’s like “Oh yeah! I remember that.” It’s always a fond memory. One thing people ask me was what was it like working on there? The best way that I can put it is like when it’s your first experience working on a movie set, you won’t have that feeling or that experience again.
But I did say if I was working on a Major Motion Picture, it might be close to it, but not exactly. Like Brian, I come from theater as well. We did theater together before we were in Clerks and it’s also a whole different type of feeling and experience. I think, and the way that I put it, is like we were all in the same boat together, experiencing something for the first time translating from the stage to film. Those are my experiences, my moments, my memories.
Brian: Any memories, Scott?
Scott: Well, other than almost getting arrested before my audition. (Panel and Press laughs) That story is on the IMDB.
Brian: It’s true!
Scott: That’s a pretty crazy memory that I didn’t really get to share with anybody because I didn’t want anybody to know back then because I didn’t wanna cast a negative dispersion on myself. But, I got to the audition very early. It was at a shore town at the Atlantic Highlands theater there. I went out on a jetty on the beach and it was closed and I was getting ready for the audition, gesturing wildly, and doing my thing. From the shore, it must’ve looked like there was a lunatic out on the jetty.
They thought I was inebriated or whatnot, or maybe suicidal. And I said, “Listen, if, if you’re gotta arrest me, can you do it after the audition please?” And they were like, “Well, this…, you know, obviously there’s nothing wrong with this guy, just maybe a little too passionate about what is there.” (Panel and Press Laughs) That’s a pretty wild memory for me and it’s a good one too because I’m also sober from some pretty brutal alcoholism days. Back then I was suffering with it pretty badly. So to look back at that now; there’s a lot of levity in that story for me now.
Brian: For me, the memories of the first experience of the shooting a film with bunch of people and we all have regular daytime jobs. We’d do our 9:00 to 5:00 job. I’d go home from where my daytime job was. I’d try and get some sleep from like five o’clock in the afternoon until 9:30 at night, get up, shower, shit, shave, get out there and get something to eat, get to the store, get ready and makeup. We’d close the store around 10:30 at night and then shoot from like 11 o’clock at night till about 5:30 – 6:00 AM doing scenes. Then take out all the equipment, which wasn’t much, out of the convenience store over, bring it over to the video store ’cause the video store wouldn’t open until like 11 o’clock.
And then start it all over again. We did that for 22, 23 days or so. Those memories in that grind and then being accepted to the New York Feature Film Market, which is a film festival that doesn’t even exist anymore, for the first screening and having 24 people in the audience – 12 of them were us! On a Sunday, the last Sunday of the festival at 11:00 AM. We felt it was like the death slot for films. But, thankfully we had a great angel in our audience by name of Mr Bob Hawke who saw the film and managed to influenced filmmakers and recommended it to the Sundance film festival. That’s where the spark started to grow. I thought I’d just have a VHS copy of the film for friends to goof around about and be like “Look at this goofy thing that we did!” If any of your audiences that don’t know what VHS is, ask your grandparents. (Panel and Press laughs)
To now see that here we are 20 going on a 25th anniversary kind of feel about it and the subsequent films that followed and being a part of those films and seeing where these characters went, like the Dante and Randall characters in Clerks 2. We did the cartoon series, which was one of the fun childhood dreams in my life was to be a part of a cartoon is undeniably, an incredible blessing that I’ll always be grateful for. And to see that people like yourselves, this room is full of people who are artists themselves, who are writers themselves, who take themselves seriously and what they do and enjoy what we do is a great blessing and we’re humbled and honored that people still wanna see these things.
And we’re happily anticipating the reaction of the fan base because now we are at the age where people of our age who had kids, now their kids are old enough to see this movie properly without embarrassment. And see the other Kevin Smith films without embarrassment and love it and enjoy it. There’s many cons where families will come or a father will bring a son, like, “My son loves that whole donkey scene!” and stuff like that where it’s like uh, it’s kind of awkward, you know. (Panel and Press laughs) An African American fan coming up going like, “That porch monkey scene…” and I’m like, “Ah..” then they’ll add “…is awesome.” Phew. Good to hear that. Thanks. It’s kind of cool and it’s the everyday man kind of feel that Kevin has with his writing makes the audience feel comfortable with us immediately. There is no like, Oh my God, it’s Sir Richard Attenborough you wanna be proper with them or Anthony Hopkins. It was all like, “Hey, what’s up Dante?” You know, they’re, they’re already comfortable to scream at us across the room, which is kind of nice that we have that comfortable feeling. Plus I have a comfortable way of just poking fun and taking the piss out of them as well. So it’s that kind of give and take that I’ve always enjoyed within the audience, that we’ve always enjoyed within the audience that makes this fan base and makes that, once again, why is it relative and still relevant to now is that kind of thing.
Scott: It’s pretty amazing dynamic because no matter how crude some of the humor gets, there’s so much heart that you can’t help but embrace it and love it. My mom, God bless her, I miss her, she would be in tears over Jay and Bob, no matter how filthy Jay got. And I could, I would, I couldn’t get over that she wasn’t like blown out by the language and some of the real, you know, some of it’s quite crude, especially the first film is shitty filthy, but there’s so much hard that comes through somehow. Amazing, amazing dynamic.
Press Question: Last question, what can we look forward to in the upcoming Clerks 3 and Mallrats 2?
Brian: I just recently said this in an interview that after seeing Avengers: Endgame and seeing the culmination of those 22 films coming together, I’m seeing something similar without some Iron Man kind of event. (Panel and Press laughs) No, no, I’m not supporting that. The culmination of all of Kevin’s View Askew films coming together with this, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, I’m not saying this is the last View Askew film by any means. But it has that kind of feel in, in reading it and then seeing the amount of people that got on board to be a part of it. Now Kevin’s been posting on his Instagram and his Facebook and his Twitter accounts, different shots from the set with different people from the cameos of the previous films and new cameos for that matter. And people and fans, and I’d read comments like, why are you telling us all this? You’re spoiling it, and blah, blah, blah. It’s not even a third of who’s in this film. (Panel and Press laughs)
I would sit there on set and scenes and be like, “I can’t believe blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah and blah, blah, blah, are on the set right now!” I mean it’s that kind of thing where it’s like, God, this is uh, this is gonna to be re- I just, you know, I can’t wait for the fall to come around. I believe he’s working on a trailer to hopefully be seen at San Diego Comic Con. So hopefully San Diego will be a, a trailer release and then hopefully a fall release. Now he, that’s nothing new, in the press he said that it’s probably a fall release. So I know he’s working on it now. I know he’s been reaching out to different bands to do the soundtrack. So he’s in that stage of the thing. Look, we’re not a heavy special effects film, so it’s not like we got two years of 15 houses putting special effects on Jay’s bong smoke. (Panel and Press laughs) So, um, once the, the film is edited and Kevin edits while we film. So literally he’s on his laptop working and he’s also in the process of working on other projects. Hopefully with the success of the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot movie, that’ll spur the other movies that we’re thinking about bringing out from the View Askew universe.
Bunkazilla UK would like to thank Brian O’Halloran, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Scott Schiaffo for their time during the event and thank the press team at MCM Comic Con for arranging the press conference. Check out other interviews from Bunkazilla here.
To find out when the next MCM Comic Con event is taking place, visit their website for more information.
Clerks is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digitally on Amazon. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is due to be released in the US in October 2019. A UK Date has yet to be announced.