October 9, 2019
‘Clerks 3’ Takes Inspiration from Kevin Smith’s Heart Attack, Won’t Be As Much of a Tearjerker As the Old Draft
Last week, we learned that Kevin Smith was breathing new life into Clerks 3 just a few years after the project was abandoned because one of the film’s co-stars simply didn’t feel compelled to participate. However, rather than dusting off the old draft of the script that almost went into production, Kevin Smith is writing an entirely new screenplay, and this one will take some cues from the real life heart attack that the filmmaker suffered last year. But just because everything has been making Kevin Smith cry lately, don’t go thinking Clerks 3 will be some kind of over-emotional tearjerker.
The Wrap got some Clerks 3 story details from Kevin Smith while he was making the rounds promoting the upcoming Fathom Events release of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot on October 15 and October 17. And as we predicted when the story first broke, the trilogy capper will bring some of Smith’s personal experience following his heart attack into the lives of Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). Plus, it’ll get meta and nostalgic in a whole new way. Here’s what Smith said:
“Randal has a heart attack, decides that he came so close to death, and his life has meant nothing, there’s nobody to memorialize him, he has no family or anything like that. And in the recovery, while under fentanyl, he comes to the conclusion at mid-life, having almost died, having worked in a movie store his whole life and watched other people’s movies, he tells Dante, I think we need to make a movie. So Dante and Randal make ‘Clerks.’ That’s the story of ‘Clerks 3.’”
There’s part of me that wonders if Smith specifically mentioned that Randal is under fentanyl, a strong opioid pain reliever, as a possible hint that Randal and Dante won’t really make Clerks, but it’ll be something that happens in Randal’s head while recovering in the hospital. But that won’t stop Smith from reliving the fun he had shooting Clerks over 25 years ago. The movie will go back to some of Smith’s favorite moments from making his breakout indie hit. Smith continued:
“I’m going to bring my boys right back to where they brought me. I’m writing it, it writes itself because I f—ing lived it 25 years ago. It’s just warm and f—ing wonderful. They’re figuring it out the same way I figured it out, but I have the benefit of being able to cherry pick all my favorite stories and moments of making ‘Clerks’ and putting it right back into their hands.”
When Smith says this will put Clerks into the hands of Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, he means it literally. The two will be shooting real black and white footage during the making of Clerks 3, which we presume will be in color like Clerks II. But we’ll likely get to see some of the takes they shoot in black and white.
For those wondering how this differs from the previous draft of Clerks 3, somehow it’s actually less gloomy and emotional. Smith actually wrote a much darker draft about middle-age life and pondering death before he even had a heart attack. The filmmaker explains:
“That was a movie that was written by a guy who was obsessed with middle-aged and dying, and it was all about death. And that was before I almost died. Then I almost died, and now I don’t really want to talk about that s—. I’ve been too close. Now I just want to do life affirming things. The tone is going to shift completely. I owe those guys, those characters, Dante and Randal, a lot more than the kind of doom and gloom I was about to put them through. I loved that script, and I loved reading it, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the last 15 pages.”
Smith is talking about when Clerks 3 was given a live read on stage in front of a small audience for charity back in August. He says performing that script made him realize that this wasn’t right for a return to his roots. Smith said, “You would’ve seen the old ‘Clerks 3’ and been like, did the guy who made ‘Clerks’ forget that ‘Clerks’ was a comedy?”
So if all goes well, now we’ll get a Clerks 3 that is more like a comedy and won’t depress the hell out of you. The concept feels a little self-indulgent, and it seems to follow in the footsteps of an indie movie that had the support of Smith. Christopher Downie wrote and directed a movie called Shooting Clerks that told the story of Kevin Smith making Clerks, and it even featured a cameo from the man himself. Hopefully the guy gets some kind of credit for helping inspire this trip down memory lane.