Jason Mewes, the Jay of Jay and Silent Bob from the Clerks franchise, was that kid you wanted to party with in high school — the guy getting stoned and talking shit about everyone’s moms. Luckily, he had a very ambitious childhood friend in director Kevin Smith, who wanted to see if America thought he was as funny as he did and cast him in his low-budget cult classics. Since then, plenty of projects have kept the 39-year-old busy, including the Web series Vigilante Diaries. He is currently on the road with Smith screening their new cartoon feature Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, which Mewes also produced, and the two stars will be at the Palladium this Saturday to screen the film and engage in one of Smith's famous audience Q&As. CL caught up with Mewes to find out about his old plan to be a roofer, his recovery from addiction, and the mysterious disappearance of Olaf, Jay’s metal-singing cousin from Clerks.
CL: Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since Clerks and the whole thing started?
Mewes: It’s definitely surreal, it’s mind-blowing. Kevin [Smith] and I grew up down the street from one another, we were friends, and I remember he was like, “Hey man, it think you’re hilarious and I wonder if other people find you funny and someone should put you in the movie.” … It isn’t like it is now with Internet and YouTube. Back then the video cameras were the big VHS shoulder cameras. … I still went to work roofing. … It wasn’t until Mallrats that it really hit me. I was like, “Wow, I’m making movies; this is my second movie.”
Did you ever even have any interest in becoming an actor?
Not at all. I didn’t have any interest in it. I was a roofer, I was roofing and at that point — when we shot Clerks — my main concern was, like, hey, I’m getting pretty knowledgeable about roofing. Maybe I can own my own business because to me it was appealing — the guy that owned the roofing company, in New Jersey. … He had a two-story house, a wife, a kid, a nice car and stuff, and that to me was appealing. … My plan was to own my own business, that was really my plan, and even after Clerks, that was still my plan. We shot Clerks and I didn’t get paid for it. No one got paid.
Did you eventually get paid for it?
Yeah. After Kevin sold it to Miramax … after he paid his credit cards back, paid everyone back and, yeah, he gave everyone a little bit of money. We got paid a little bit after the fact.
So there are rumors of Clerks 3?
Yeah, Kevin just finished a script. Third draft. He’s been working with Miramax, putting together a budget as far as I know.
Some of us are wondering if you will be bringing back Olaf, for a cameo maybe?
You know, I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t know if Kevin, if anyone has even talked to that guy. I think Kevin said at one point that the guy contacted him. … I ran into him once, it was like a year after the movie came out.
Congratulations on being sober for so long. Since your character Jay was also sort of known as the stoner and for being fucked up all the time, is it hard for people to understand?
Honestly, it’s been really, really awesome. The support I’ve gotten. …Every once in a while, don’t get me wrong, they think, “Oh, you’re staying sober off the opiates, so let’s go smoke a doobie,” and, again, I have nothing against weed, but the problem is, I’ve tried to just smoke, I’ve tried to just drink. The problem I had was not only with the opiates, but I came to learn that it’s a mind set. I have to totally be sober. I have to go to meetings. I can’t do anything that is mind-altering.
Tell us about Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie.
[It’s] an animated cartoon movie about when Jay and Silent Bob become Bluntman and Chronic, crimefighters who clean up their neighborhood. … Kevin was like, “Here’s the script. See what you can do with it,” and I brought it home to my wife and I was really stoked ’cause Kevin never lets scripts leave his house. So, for him to give me that opportunity, I told my wife, I gotta make something happen. … I showed Kevin the first six minutes about three months later. And he was like, “Dude, this is awesome.” … [On tour] we show the movie, we do a podcast and live Q&A. It’s about a two-and-a half, three-hour extravaganza.
Do you ever get any really stupid questions?
People will say, “If you had a superpower and it had to do with your testicles, what would it be?”