Indie-film icon Kevin Smith is, above all else, a religious man. If you didn’t pick up on this from his Dogma, the 1999 film that starred Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as a pair of fallen angels attempting to get back into Heaven, just look at the end credits of any of his seven features. Topping the long list of thank-yous is always God.
HE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR: and so does his God.
And Smith’s God, like Smith himself, has a sense of humor: as I made my way to the Four Seasons to meet up with Smith while he was here in Boston, the heavens opened up, drenching me, my notes, and my tape recorder. Heathen that I am, could the Almighty have been smiting me?
“Oh, it’s raining?” said Smith, sprawled on a couch. “Sorry, man, I’m a little tired. Late night. The wife flew in to meet me last night, and we haven’t seen each other in a week. Spent most of the night fuckin’.”
The wife? Could he mean Affleck (who’s currently in town shooting Gone, Baby, Gone, his directorial debut), his close friend, who’s appeared in every one of his films except Clerks?
“Nah, man — Jen. Plus, I’m sure Ben doesn’t fuck as well.”
“Jen” is Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, whom he met when she interviewed him years ago while working as a reporter for USA Today. “Don’t worry,” he assures me, after I announce that I’m not willing to fall into the same trap. “While I may be one cock in the mouth shy of being gay, I’m not attracted to you, no offense.”
Smith’s last film, Jersey Girl, took a critical and commercial drubbing, and matters weren’t helped by the “Bennifer” backlash. (It was released after the much-publicized break-up of stars Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.) He acknowledges that “the media tend to be more interested in what’s going on in the personal lives of the actors than the films themselves these days.” Still, he’s proud of the film, which for better or worse reflects his personal interests as a family man and father. In April, he hosted a “spoken-word event” at his house, raising $20,000 for the private school of his seven-year-old daughter, Harley Quinn, who takes her name from a villain in Batman: The Animated Series. Speakers included Spider-Man creator Stan Lee (“He’s 84 fucking years old, and he recited three poems from memory, editorializing on each”) and Carrie Fisher, who brought the crowd to its feet with a recitation of her entire “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi” speech from Star Wars.
The showstopper, however, was John Lydon, who began with an anti-abortion rant before ending with a sing-along of “God Save the Queen.” How did Smith lure the former Johnny Rotten, the man who declined enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? “Because I asked him personally; he doesn’t know who the fuck runs the so-called Hall of Fame. If there’s one thing you can never accuse him of, it’s being a sellout.”
Speaking of selling out: why did Smith choose to revisit the “View Askewniverse” (named after his production company, View Askew) after retiring it on the release of 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back?