Kevin Patrick Smith
(born 1970) is a film director, screenwriter, actor, comic book writer and comedian best known for his "View Askewniverse" films, notably Clerks
. Smith is a proud native of New Jersey
and most of his films take place in the state. He married journalist Jennifer Schwalbach in 1999. They have one daughter, Harley Quinn Smith (yes, named after the Batman: The Animated Series
character; he is close friends with writer Paul Dini.)
Smith is best known for the six-film New Jersey Trilogy
set in The View Askewniverse
; his non-Askewniverse productions Jersey Girl
and Zack and Miri Make a Porno
have not been as successful (or at least no more successful). As a result, he tends to go back to the Askewniverse trough, often self-aware of its approaching Franchise Zombie
Smith got his start by making Clerks
, a black and white film shot on location in the scenic
convenience store where he worked at the time and financed by maxing out his credit cards and putting his comic book collection up for collateral. It starred various lifelong friends and local amateur actors, notably childhood friends Jason "Jay" Mewes and Jeff "Randall Graves" Anderson. Released in 1994, Clerks
became an instant cult favorite and one of the pioneers of the independent genre.
Smith also jump started the careers of two of his friends, Jason Lee (who before Mallrats
was one of the most well known professional skateboarders in the country) and Ben Affleck
by casting them in major roles in Mallrats
and Chasing Amy
before they both went off to fame and fortune (both would appear in all of Smith's other Askewniverse movies).
He has also become a prolific podcaster, creating the weekly series Smodcast
with longtime partner producer Scott Mosier. This expanded into a network of podcasts under the SModcast Network banner, including Tell 'Em Steve-Dave
(with Smith's close friends Bryan Johnson, Walt Flanagan, and Brian Quinn), Jay and Silent Bob Get Old
(Smith and Jason Mewes), Plus One
(Smith and his wife Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith), Blow Hard
(indie filmmaker Malcolm Ingram, with Smith occasionally co-hosting), and Hollywood Babble-On
(Smith and actor Ralph Garman).
He is well known for being extremely approachable and friendly towards his fans; often he will take time after his appearances at comic book conventions and the like to sign autographs and chat with fans for multiple hours
. Noted for holding detailed audience Q&A sessions, initially attached to his movies, he discovered that people would pay to come to an auditorium and listen to him tell stories and answer audience questions without any context. Hence, An Evening with Kevin Smith
led to sequels An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder
, Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith
, Kevin Smith: Too Fat for 40
and Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell
. He was one of the first film directors to have a major internet presence, going all the way back to the mid-90's.
Currently, he can easily be found on either his twitter page
or his official message board
(which his wife and friends also frequently post on) or his internet radio station
Not to be confused with the late Kevin Smith, best known for playing Ares in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
and its various spin-offs.
Works Smith has been involved with:
- Moose Jaws - Jaws but with a moose.
- Hit Somebody - A film about hockey, based on a song by Warren Zevon and co-written by ''Tuesdays With Morrie'' author Mitch Albom. At Sundance 2011, he announced that it will be his last movie as a writer/director, effectively killing another planned film, Ranger Danger and the Danger Rangers, unless another director feels like making it. He has since announced he now plans to make this a mini-series on a yet-disclosed channel (one would presume AMC, given his strong affiliation with them, or possible Hulu), leaving the way open for his last film to be...
- Clerks III - Although Smith has at least three projects lined up beforehand, and the Weinsteins have denied funding Clerks III, Smith still insists the film will be made, likely sometime in 2015 or 2016 (at the latest).
- Clerks: The Animated Series - loosely based on the first Clerks, a series with a comfortable DVD following.
- An Evening with Kevin Smith, volumes 1, 2, and 3; as well as the specials for the pay-cable channel Epix, Kevin Smith: Too Fat for 40 and Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell - Smith proves himself to be extremely entertaining in his off-the-cuff question and answer sessions at various college campuses and concert venues. Sometimes joined by his heterosexual life partner, Jason Mewes.
- Daredevil: Guardian Devil - a comic run that in some ways re-launched the franchise with a more adult focus on the character's Catholic faith; especially notable for the significant death of an otherwise minor villain. Also notable in some circles for a Stuffed In The Fridge moment.
- Green Arrow - Debuted the mute supervillain Onomatopoeia, and brought the Emerald Archer back to life.
- A rather poorly-received Batman miniseries, Widening Gyre
- Directed the Reaper TV pilot.
- A weekly podcast with friend Scott Mosier, SModcast, which eventually grew into a 24 hour web radio network called SModcast Internet Radio that has shows with Smith and his wife, Smith and Jason Mewes, and others. You can check it out here.
- Directed and starred in two episodes of Degrassi The Next Generation, bringing along Jason Mewes and Alanis Morrisette for the ride. He took up the gig because he was a huge fan of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High during their runs on PBS, and had a Perverse Sexual Lust for Caitlin Ryan.
- Comic Book Men which he's described as like Pawn Stars, but for nerds.
- Spoilers a Hulu-only show where he takes a group of people to watch a recently released movie (which he pays for all the tickets), and then bring them back to a studio to discuss it.
- Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil that Men Do, a miniseries mainly remembered for being very, very squicky and retconning rape into Black Cat's backstory.
Tropes used by Kevin Smith:
Most of Smith's uses of tropes can be found on The View Askewniverse
page, but some of his trope use is broader than that. They are:
- Ascended Fanboy: Smith was a collector of Degrassi episodes in the days before DVD, when only rich hobbyists could afford such things. Not only did he name a character in Clerks after Caitlin, but he admitted to laying down $8,000 to get the entire Degrassi catalog on tape.
- Attention Whore: In ''An Evening with Kevin Smith," he describes himself as a "press whore" who likes seeing his name in headlines.
- Author Filibuster: As his spoken word videos suggest, often Smith's personal rants about various subjects end up in his films. For instance, Smith's complaint about the ending of Return of the King appeared first in An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder but also ended up in Clerks II.
- Canada, Eh?: The True North Trilogy, horror-comedy films all set in Canada.
- Cats Are Superior: Smith summed it up this way:
Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are like man's complacent roommate.
- Cerebus Syndrome / Darker and Edgier: Red State is his darkest and most serious film by an extremely wide margin.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Whenever Smith deals with faith, it's inevitably the faith that he grew up with and says that he currently adheres to, Catholicism. Somewhat ironic, in that one of the interest groups most opposed to him is The Catholic League, which started opposing him at first due to his amusing take on the fallibility of mortal religion while simultaniously exalting divine infallibility in Dogma. Other religions are not dealt with extensively, and it's a loophole in Catholic doctrine that ends up endangering the entire universe in the aforementioned film. He has promised, however, to avert this trope if he ever makes a Dogma II. Averted with Red State - the Five Points Trinity church is based on the Westboro Baptist Church
- Cluster F-Bomb: He's such an abuser, his first film was originally rated NC-17 based on language alone.
- Creator Backlash: Mocked and simulated; when a group of people announced they were going to picket his film Dogma at a theater near where he lives, Smith himself showed up and picketed the film too with a "Dogma is dogshit" sign. He ends up being filmed by a news crew as a protester, and the reporter recognized him. He'll also be the first one to admit that his films lack visual panache.
- Directing Against Type: He normally makes comedies, but Red State showed he could do an intense thriller really well. You don't feel like you're watching a Kevin Smith movie at all. It's a shame Kevin is only going to direct one more film and that's it. He could direct thrillers and dramas if he wanted to. Maybe even a family film. Oh, wait.....
- Even the Guys Want Him: In nearly every Q&A he does (especially prominent in the Evening with Kevin Smith series), he receives many offers for oral sex from male fans. Often, he'll jokingly accept but demand they put some effort into it. In An Evening with Kevin Smith, Smith's friend Jason Mewes was also propositioned by a gay man who had a crush on him at least once.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Invoked by Smith at the end of his Q&A film Too Fat for 40, after his attempt to answer many questions turns into just one:
Smith: Well it's called "Q&A." One Q, one A.
- Executive Meddling:
- His story of his time as a writer for Superman Reborn and the insane requests of producer Jon Peters, including Brainiac fighting a polar bear and having a robot sidekick speaking with a Camp Gay voice and Superman fighting a Giant Spider in the third act, not being allowed to fly and only wearing black.
- Played straight and then subverted with Cop Out: It was originally entitled A Couple of Dicks, but the MPAA weren't cool with that. They were using A Couple of Cops as a placeholder, and one of the execs suggested that they use that. Smith said that it was a "cop out" to use that title, so the executive suggested that they use that. Smith thought this was brilliant, admitted that the executives were much smarter than he is, and then ran with that title. One suggestion for a sequel would be Rock Out With Your Cop Out.
- Smith also stated that back when he was writing the Black Cat mini series, the Marvel Execs also offered to make him the official writer of Spider-Man on the condition that his first storyline would involve breaking up Peter and Mary Jane's marriage. Predicting the inevitable shit storm that would have resulted from the that, Smith declined the gig.
- Then there's his whole story about working for Prince, which cannot be properly summarized other than to hear it in its full, rambling glory.
- Gender Flip: He joked about this in reference to Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) when he hosted a Galactica panel at Comic Con.
Smith: [to Ron Moore and David Eick] I'm glad you guys changed Starbuck into a women. Otherwise it would have made all those kissing scenes with Lee really awkward.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Almost all of his films revolve around two men and their very close friendships. Some of these films (like Chasing Amy between the protagonist and his male best friend) openly portray it as attraction, but most leave it as subtext. He acknowledged that he would put some of this content in his films as Fanservice directed at gay people.
- I Am Not Spock: Both Smith and Jason Mewes are pretty much forever linked with their characters. It doesn't help that Smith continually names their joint projects Jay and Silent Bob [verb phrase]
- Iconic Outfit: His hockey jerseys and jean shorts. Previously the long green coat.
- Joisey: He's a native New Jerseyan, and proud of it.
- Motor Mouth: He NEVER shuts up, ever! Which is funny, because he plays a character called "Silent Bob". Kevin is a talking machine. His Q and A's and his Smodcasts show this. He can talk for hours, literally.
"I do DVD Commentaries because I like to talk."
- Name's the Same: Not to be confused with Kevin Smith from killer7. Or, for that matter, the late actor who played Ares.
Holy shit... BEN AFFLECK IS THE NEW BATMAN!!! Do you know what this means? It means that I've seen Batman naked!!!
- On his Fatman on Batman podcast, he admitted to nerdgasming when guest Arleen Sorkin rang his home intercom and announced herself in her Harley Quinn voice, and when Kevin Conroy opened up their podcast interview in the Batman voice, Smith instantly declared, "Coming all over!"
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Said by Kevin Smith in an anecdote about his interactions with Tim Burton, when he brings up Burton's publicist, whose actual, real name is Bumble Ward.
I am not making it up. I'll say it one more time: Tim's publicist's name is Bumble Ward. There is somebody on this planet... named Bumble.
- Parental Substitute: He and Jason Mewes agree that he is more or less the father Jason never had, doing his best to support him and be there for him during Jason's drug addiction and helping him out by making movies for him to feature in.
- Production Posse: If he's making a movie expect Jason Mewes, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jeff Anderson or Brian O'Halloran to be on board, if not all of them. Behind the camera there's cinematographer Dave Klein who has shot all of Smith's films and producer/friend Scott Mosier who produced all of Smith's films up to Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
- Promoted Fanboy: In the DVD commentary for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he delights in the fact he had a lightsaber — er, bongsaber — duel with Mark Hamill. The Batman lifer has also scored an appearance as a playable mini-fig in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
- Schedule Slip: His comic book work is infamous for enormous gaps between issues and heavy delays.
- Screw Yourself: He once did a special for The Tonight Show where he showed some locations in New Jersey connected to his films. At one point he stands next to a replica of himself, and then proceeds to make out with it, saying it's something he always wanted to do.
- Self-Deprecation: Aside from making fun of his own weight and appearance in his films and his An Evening with Kevin Smith series, he famously protested his own movie when Dogma came out.
- Signature Style: Little to no camera movement, lengthy, usually profanity riddled, conversations about sex (comic book character or otherwise) and Star Wars, and some scene involving hockey. All of which is frequently Lampshaded.
- Speech-Centric Work: His films are, as a rule, extremely dialogue-heavy.
- So My Kids Can Watch: Jersey Girl was made because he'd just had a daughter and wanted to make a movie that wasn't filled with crude humor. Unfortunately, a lot of his fans were angered by their hero "going soft", and he was forced to make a return to form. Watching the movie with the fact that it was made for and about Smith's daughter in mind does make the movie much sweeter though.
- Sublime Rhyme: The intro to his podcast Fat Man On Batman
- The Stoner: In recent years, he's taken up smoking massive amounts of pot, crediting it with helping him out of a creative slump. Some critics have credited it to have fried his brain due to the perceived drop in quality between his earlier work and his more recent output.
- Taught by Experience: He went to film school for a few months but dropped out because he was told it would be 9 months of technical learning and he spent the first few months on the creative side. He did meet producing partner Scott Mosier while there, who does handle the more technical side of things. It's evident from his films that he has a gift for story and dialogue but not much else.
- Take That:
is the second worst thing to ever happen to New York City."
- Take That, Critics!: He tends to do this.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: He's well aware of this, and mocks it frequently; during an interview on the Canadian TV show "The Hour", Smith claimed that he would never do a porno with his wife. Why? Because he would lose all respect for her; "How can you have sex with THAT?".
- Unstoppable Rage: He was once thrown off a plane because of his weight. He was not happy.
- Verbal Tic: Says "Whatnot" a lot.
- Vindicated by History: He's acknowledged that his movies are often too difficult to market to be box office gold and eventually find their niche on home video. His self-funded movies came about as an effort to keep making movies while bypassing the whole box-office bomb part of the process.