Kevin Smith reveals what Ben Affleck is doing in Clerks III
"I wanted to tell my heart attack story with my characters," says the filmmaker. "So Randal, the video-store guy [played by Jeff Anderson], has a massive heart attack. While he recovers, he laments that he's wasted his life watching movies and never thought about making one himself. Randal and Dante [Brian O'Halloran] essentially make their own version of Clerks, a black-and-white movie called Inconvenience. It's incredibly meta. The snake really eats its own tail, swallows itself, and s---s itself out, and that is Clerks III. You can put that on the poster! [Laughs]"
The film's cast also includes Jason Mewes, Trevor Fehrman, and Rosario Dawson, who since appearing in 2006's Clerks II has become part of the Star Wars universe thanks to her casting as Ahsoka Tana. Did Smith, who famously loves the George Lucas-created franchise, grill the actress about portraying the character while shooting Clerks III?
"Even though we're friends, she won't spill, probably because she knows I've got a huge mouth and I'd be on FatMan Beyond [the pop culture podcast Smith hosts with former EW editor Marc Bernardin] going 'You know what Ahsoka herself told me?'" says the director. "But landing Rosario amidst her insanely busy schedule was a lot more difficult on Clerks III than on Clerks II, that's for sure. She was between many galaxies on Clerks III."
The film's recent trailer revealed that Smith's longtime collaborator Ben Affleck will be making an appearance in Clerks III. So does he pop into the Quick Stop?
"Yes and no," says Smith. "In order to keep the integrity of the original universe together, there was no real place to put a zillion cameos. However, Dante and Randal at one point try to cast the movie, and that's where I called up every famous person I knew and had them do a line. So yes, you do see Ben Affleck in Clerks III, just not at the Quick Stop."
Smith shot Clerks III at the real-life convenience store in New Jersey where he shot 1994's Clerks and where he once actually worked.
"We went back to Jersey for the first time since the first movie to shoot the entire thing there," says the director. "Finally, I was grown up enough to ask the owners let me shut the place down. Every time we've shot there in the past, we have always had to shoot while the store is still operating. This time around, because of COVID, I was like, we can't do that, we can't just have the general public coming in. I have to rent the entire place and shut it down. I got to go work at Quick Stop again, but in the best f---ing way possible. Last time I worked at Quick Stop I had to be there certain hours, I had to actually ring people up, I had to stock the sodas, mop the floor, and s--- like that. This time, man, I would walk into Quick Stop, we'd make pretend that we were clerks, and then I'd walk out. It was bliss, man."
Smith admits that his wife and daughter have mixed feelings about him mining his health crisis for comedy.
"My wife and kid don't enjoy the movie the way I do, at least the first half hour," says the director. "My wife's like, 'Look, what you think is funny now was the worst moment of our f---ing lives.' And I was like, 'Well, don't say that to the critics, for Christ's sakes! It's too easy a lay-up for them!'"
Lionsgate will be releasing Clerks III exclusively in theaters on Sept. 13 and 15 via Fathom Events.
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