Kevin Smith on Coining ‘Bennifer’ and Trying to Save His Hero Stan Lee

The one cause I ever have something happening on a regular basis is as a result of I’m so fucking fearful of changing into irrelevant that I’ve to be in as many locations as attainable,” gives Kevin Smith. “If one cease doesn’t work, I can bounce to a different one and say, ‘Nicely, this was all the time the goal!’”

Smith is, after all, being modest—the filmmaker has quite a bit happening proper now. His latest Masters of the Universe collection proved a success for Netflix; there’s an attention grabbing new espresso desk ebook chronicling his storied profession, Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash; he’s the topic of a documentary, Clerk, out subsequent month; and he spent a lot of the summer time taking pictures Clerks III again residence in Jersey, which he says is “most likely the most effective film I’ve ever made.”

Oh, and Smith’s additionally placing collectively the items for Twilight of the Mallrats, a sequel to his 1995 cult flick “concerning the loss of life of mall tradition and one man’s determined want to carry onto the previous.” Smith says that he’s making an attempt to reunite the unique forged from the movie, and that it’s going to as soon as once more middle the travails of Brodie (Jason Lee), who’s now dwelling within the mall.

As for the 2 retrospective initiatives, Secret Stash and Clerk, each hint Smith’s journey from Vancouver Movie Faculty, to his 1994 cult basic Clerks—famously made on a price range of simply $27,575—to his later movies, together with Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jersey Lady, the place he coined the title “Bennifer.” In basic Smith model, they’re filled with humor, pathos and loads of fucks.

“I’ve been trying again my entire life. I don’t know why,” the 51-year-old filmmaker says. “I’ve spent the final 30 years making an attempt to recreate a really tender five-year interval of my life that occurred from, like, age 17-22. In some methods, every little thing I do is about making an attempt to recreate that second.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.

The ebook and documentary are popping out just some years after your coronary heart assault, so did that huge well being scare get you fascinated by your legacy?

I want I may say sure, however to be sincere, I’ve been probably the most nostalgic, look-back individual because the age of, like, 5. I used to be nostalgic for episodes of Blissful Days after they ended after I was 7. I noticed in the previous few years that the majority of my profession relies on trying backward. Even in the event you return 10 years in the past once we had been doing the Comedian E-book Males present on AMC, it wasn’t about new stuff, it was about all these comedian books we used to like to learn. Masters of the Universe is an previous factor that we breathed new life into, and I simply completed Clerks III. The Secret Stash ebook is certainly a look-back, and the Clerk documentary is simply too. Most of my contemporaries reside for the long run, and at a sure level, I simply fell again into the previous. I’ve all the time been chasing the ’90s. If I may do my total profession once more, I’d have executed Clerks as a collection, though that wasn’t actually an possibility on the time—and that’s actually what I’ve been making an attempt to do in the event you have a look at all my films and the way they’re interconnected in a method or one other. I’ve been making an attempt to inform one lengthy story.

What’s previous is normally new once more.

Should you can stick round lengthy sufficient, they neglect shit. They go, “Didn’t you used to battle with critics?” “Didn’t you direct Jersey Lady?” However in the event you can final lengthy sufficient, even your profession foibles develop into victories. For instance, Mallrats comes out in ’95 and virtually destroys my very nascent profession, and now Mallrats is the film I can eat out on and folks go, “Oh, Stan Lee—he noticed the long run,” and stuff like that. So, you by no means can inform. And there’s nothing that’s occurred over the course of my profession the place I’m like, “If solely I may change that.” I imply, working with Harvey Weinstein—I by no means knew what would come out with that by way of what we’d discover out about him and stuff, so I assume I’d change that. However even the flicks that flop don’t essentially age like a superb wine, however a drinkable wine.

There’s a really pretty story in Secret Stash about Stan Lee, and the way with a purpose to comply with the cameo in Mallrats, his solely stipulation was that he wouldn’t disparage his spouse.

He didn’t need Joanie to be disparaged. Even in a fantasy world, Stan cherished Joanie a lot that he was like, “Can we put in yet one more bit the place I reveal that it was all a joke to assist the buddy get his girlfriend?” It wasn’t till years later, after I grew to become good pals with Stan, knew him to the day he died, and cherished him dearly, that I knew Joanie was his absolute beloved and that he couldn’t point out somebody who got here earlier than her. That being mentioned, Stan was additionally one of many nice entrepreneurs this world has ever seen, and in asking me so as to add that scene, he actually doubled his half within the film, which I believe was mainly his goal.


Photograph Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Every day Beast/Tommaso Boddi/Getty

I edited various tales by the journalist Mark Ebner about Stan Lee’s final days, and the vultures in his orbit, and also you had been the one who actually sounded the alarm about how he was being exploited.

It was such a bummer. It’s only a bizarre state of affairs, since you’ll watch any variety of true crime miniseries—like lately, we watched the Brittany Murphy documentary on HBO they usually talked about how that dude, Simon Monjack, minimize her off from the world, the place you couldn’t name her on this cellphone or that cellphone, and he remoted her—and that’s what occurred with Stan. I couldn’t get him on any of the traces I had, the individuals who had been a part of his regular life had been not in his interior circle, they usually remoted him at a time when he was his most fucking alone.

You must perceive: Stan cherished his spouse in a means that few individuals love their spouses on this world. It doesn’t matter what he was doing, he would go residence at 6 p.m., have dinner with Joanie, and take a nap. They had been one another’s greatest fucking pals. So, to lose her when he did, he was by himself. And over the following 12 months and alter, all these vultures did was isolate the man from individuals who would have stored him attempt firm—not placing a pen in his hand at a Con and forcing him to signal extra crap. He was 95, however he was nonetheless very, very sharp. And to isolate him the way in which they did from the individuals who cherished him, and solely deliver him out like a present pony at Cons, they took years from his life. And there was nothing you may do, as a result of his daughter was part of it. It was a extremely untenable state of affairs. Once I give it some thought, it’s an actual heartbreaking time, man.

It’s loopy to consider. They had been actually draining him of his blood and using it to sell comics.

It is a man who wrote about superheroes. Superheroes would crash by way of a fucking door to save lots of a life, and none of us may do the identical to the daddy of all our favourite superheroes. None of us may save this man from the clutches of actual supervillains.

The 2 individuals who had been main icons to me in my life cherished their wives. You couldn’t ask for higher function fashions.

There’s one other actually transferring anecdote from the ebook I loved about George Carlin, and the way on Dogma, his solely stipulation was that since his spouse had simply handed, he didn’t need to take away his marriage ceremony band for the movie and requested if he may put a Band-Assist over it.

It’s humorous, you don’t take into consideration a transfer like that when you consider George Carlin. You consider some of the insightful individuals who ever lived, forward of his time, brilliantly humorous, however he was a romantic. A enormous softie and an enormous romantic. I used to be so extremely touched by that. The 2 individuals who had been main icons to me in my life cherished their wives. You couldn’t ask for higher function fashions.

It was enjoyable the way you had George Carlin in Dogma provided that one in every of his extra well-known bits is about how conservatives solely care concerning the sanctity of life earlier than the infant is born—after which if you flip 18 so you’ll be able to go battle their wars—and the movie facilities a lady working at an abortion clinic. And also you all the time see that bit get recirculated each time Republicans cross some shitty anti-abortion regulation.

It was positively a wink and a nudge to forged Carlin because the Cardinal, and he loved the shit out of it. Having grown up within the church with all the ceremony, and having lengthy been out of the church, he did it to a T so paradoxically. I bear in mind we had been taking pictures a Cardinal Glick scene in his workplace, and there’s a bunch of us within the scene—me, Jay [Mewes], Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, after which Carlin himself. Between takes, I’m simply chitchatting with him, and we had been speaking about this bit the place Jay wears the bishop’s miter sorta like a shark, and I mentioned, “We are able to solely go thus far with it, as a result of if we go too far it’s blasphemy.” And George appears to be like at me like I’m loopy and goes, “I simply bought it proper now. You continue to imagine in all these items, don’t you?” And I used to be like, “Yeah. You don’t?” And he goes, “No! I’m smarter than that.”

I learn that 9/11—and George W. Bush’s spiritual fervor—virtually impressed you to make a sequel to Dogma?

Yeah, at one level. I all the time thought, “Oh, possibly we will make a Dogma sequel,” after which when the film got here out and there have been loss of life threats, I assumed, “Possibly it’s not price it.” Once I began the method of creating Dogma I used to be a single man, and by the point I completed I used to be married with a toddler. I assumed, properly, you’ll be able to fuck round when it’s you by your self, however as soon as different individuals are relying on you, maybe coping with a topic as sensitive as faith ought to be left to these with much less to lose, I assume. As soon as we bought a brick put by way of the entrance window of our home the day of my child’s christening, and it was the window proper subsequent to my child’s room, I assumed that maybe Dogma II can wait till my child’s grown up. However excellent news, Marlow: My child is now 22 and simply moved into her personal home, so now I don’t have to fret concerning the child anymore, and possibly it’s time to get again to the nice ol’ spiritual moviemaking. I’ve bought two underneath my belt in Dogma and Pink State, so I’m considering it’s time to make yet one more—and it’s bought to be about Satanism. As an old-timey Catholic who grew up within the period of The Exorcist and The Omen and Race with the Satan, there’s all the time been some Satanic cult film brewing in me.

You talked about Harvey Weinstein earlier, and one a part of the ebook that struck me was if you described how Weinstein pulled Good Will Searching out of theaters early to screw Robin Williams out of his again finish.

I bear in mind they pulled that film out of theaters whereas it was nonetheless incomes on the time. It was doing extremely properly, and the deal that they’d made with Robin was a high-percentage first-dollar gross—a movie-star deal—and it was nice, as a result of immediately by placing Robin within the film their pre-sales paid for the entire fucking movie. So, the film was paid for after which the film was creating wealth hand over fist and remodeled $100 million. From what I bear in mind, Robin’s break up could be even better and he’d get a much bigger proportion if it crossed $100 million, so each greenback the film made on the theatrical field workplace must be break up—I’m undecided if it was a 50/50 break up—with Robin Williams. I used to be on the film as a co-executive producer, so we had been aware of some particulars, and I bear in mind the day when Good Will Searching was leaving theaters and it felt bizarre as a result of it was like, “Wait? There’s all this Oscar buzz, so why would you pull it if it was simply creating wealth?” And so they did it as a result of preserving it in theaters meant that extra of the cash would go to Robin, whereas the second it went to video the break up wasn’t Robin-heavy. It was hamstrung as a result of greed.


Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Dogma, 1999

Photograph Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Every day Beast/United Archives GmbH / Alamy

I’m curious how you are feeling about every little thing that was uncovered about Harvey, as a result of I do know that he was one thing of a mentor to you, and there’s a sturdy affiliation—

—Cautious, Marlow. Cautious. “Mentor” is an enormous phrase. Carlin and Stan Lee had been mentors; Harvey was a man that produced our films.

And fucked you out of some huge cash.

That too. The opposite day, I used to be speaking to my pal Jon Gordon—he used to work at Miramax and produced the David O. Russell films, like Silver Linings Playbook—and it’s one thing I by no means take into consideration, as a result of cash was by no means an enormous pursuit of mine. I used to be born decrease, decrease, decrease center class, so any cash I bought within the film enterprise was more cash than I used to be ever going to see in my life. However I forgot that we had been owed a whole lot of hundreds of {dollars} from The Weinstein Firm—if no more—when that entire factor went kablooey, and I used to be reminded about it the opposite day by Jon Gordon, as a result of there was a ruling the place the corporate that holds all of the belongings of The Weinstein Firm doesn’t should pay out any of their money owed.


Alanis Morissette, Alan Rickman, and Kevin Smith on the set of Dogma, 1999

Photograph Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Every day Beast/TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy

Nicely, you’ll be able to all the time say that the very last thing you mentioned to him in individual was to go fuck himself at Sundance’s Pink State premiere.

That could be very true. And I bear in mind being terrified that he was simply gonna come by way of that curtain and fucking punch me within the face. For all that he was, and all that we all know he’s now, he was additionally a really giant man, and he may very well be the screamiest individual you’ve ever met in your life. Me and Jon had been simply speaking the opposite day concerning the time Harvey crawled throughout the sofa on all fours to scream in my face at The Peninsula—however as everyone knows, means worse issues occurred to much better individuals than me at The Peninsula. I noticed his rage quite a bit, however to be truthful, this wasn’t a man we had been round quite a bit. We had been in Jersey once we had been youthful, and our films didn’t make sufficient cash for them to care that a lot about us. We had been a part of the Miramax secure, however Quentin [Tarantino] was their man. Miramax was The Home That Quentin Constructed. The one time we ever noticed him was once we had been going to pitch a film or at a check screening. I’ve made 4 films the place Harvey by no means even got here to set whereas we had been making the flick.

Within the Jersey Lady chapter of the ebook you reveal one thing I didn’t know: You had been the one who coined “Bennifer.”

Doubtful honor! A doubtful honor at greatest, man. Most individuals on the market, together with Ben and Jen themselves, are like, “Thanks, asshole.” However yeah, whereas we had been making the film the [portmanteau] simply introduced itself. That might be what I’d say on the set of Jersey Lady—“The place’s Bennifer?”—and somebody would say, “They’re within the trailer.” So, I used to be speaking to somebody from the LA Instances and doing an interview after we wrapped, and I used to be like, “Bennifer.” After which it confirmed up in print and began being in every single place.


Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in Clerks, 1994

Photograph Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Every day Beast/TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy

Is it a visit so that you can see them collectively once more? As a result of they had been first falling in love whereas making Jersey Lady, and it looks like no time has handed. They seem so in love and I believe the general public is having fun with the nostalgia hit they’re getting from it.

I do too. Everybody loves a great love story—particularly when it comes round once more. These two went off and had total loves with out one another and located one another once more. It doesn’t harm that they’re impossibly fucking fairly. And look, she’s incredible, however he has appeared higher than he’s ever fucking appeared in his total life—and I’m a Ben Affleck fan! It took me till lately to be like, “Dude, you look so fucking good.” He appears to be like twenty years youthful than he did even final 12 months, and that’s love and what it’s executed for him. And as spectators, individuals on the surface who thumb by way of the information for pop-culture leisure, it’s a heartwarming story. Individuals are like, “Oh my God, they went off, lived total lives, and right here they’re reconnecting.” It offers you hope in your personal life.

However, man, they’re simply really easy to have a look at. And once more, I can’t say this sufficient—I actually advised him through textual content, “I’m having a tough time determining which one in every of you is the extra engaging lately.” She brings out the most effective in him, and he or she even did again then on Jersey Lady. They made you attempt to be higher in your relationship since you’re like, that’s what love appears to be like like. I’m joyful to see them again collectively once more and he deserves it, as a result of he’s such a great man.

There’s one tidbit within the ebook that I used to be not conscious of. You say that Ben Affleck known as off the marriage to Jennifer Lopez three days earlier than it was alleged to occur, and that you just had been going to be a reader at that marriage ceremony.

I used to be alleged to be a reader after which impulsively there was no marriage ceremony—I believe just a few days earlier than. I used to be, I believe, the second reader, as a result of we had been only a 12 months out from making Jersey Lady, after which I bought the decision—not from him, however any individual else—saying the marriage was off. And I say it within the press. I don’t know if he known as it off, however the marriage ceremony was known as off. Can I ask you this actual fast, although? In the event that they determine to get married once more, do I get known as to be the reader this a few years later? Or do new pals take my place? I’m wondering what the protocol is.

I believe you’ll play an element.

Possibly I’ll a minimum of get to go. | Kevin Smith on Coining ‘Bennifer’ and Attempting to Save His Hero Stan Lee


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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