Today is Kevin Smith’ 42nd Birthday! If you don’t know who he is, let me educate you in the Awesomeness that is, Kevin Smith.
According to Wikipedia:
Kevin Patrick Smith (born August 2, 1970) is an American screenwriter, actor, film producer, and director, as well as a popular comic book writer, author, comedian/raconteur, and internet radio personality best recognized by viewers as Silent Bob. Although primarily known for the View Askew film series, Smith also wrote, directed and produced films such as the buddy cop action comedy Cop Out, as well as the horror film Red State. His first several films were mostly set in his home state of New Jersey, and while not strictly sequential, they frequently feature crossover plot elements, character references, and a shared canon in what is known by fans as the “View Askewniverse”, named after his production company View Askew Productions, which he co-founded with Scott Mosier.
Smith is also the owner of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comic book and novelty store in Red Bank, New Jersey. He co-hosts several weekly podcasts that are recorded at various locations around the world and released on SModcast Internet Radio. Smith is well known for participating in long, humorous Q&A sessions that are often filmed for DVD release, beginning with An Evening with Kevin Smith.
Kevin Smith was born August 2, 1970 in Highlands, New Jersey, the son of Grace (née Schultz), a homemaker, and Donald E. Smith (1936–2003), a postal worker. He has an older sister, Virginia, and an older brother, Donald Smith, Jr. He was raised in a Catholic household, and attended Henry Hudson Regional High School in Highlands.
In an interview with Robert K. Elder for The Film That Changed My Life, Smith attributes the film Slacker as his main inspiration to becoming a director.
It was the movie that got me off my ass; it was the movie that lit a fire under me, the movie that made me think, “Hey, I could be a filmmaker.” And I had never seen a movie like that before ever in my life.
His first film, Clerks, was shot for the sum total of $27,575 in the convenience store where Smith worked. It went to the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, where it won the Filmmaker’s Trophy and was picked up by Miramax before the festival’s end. In May 1994, it went to the Cannes International Film Festival where it won both the Prix de la Jeunesse and the International Critics’ Week Prize. Released in October 1994 in two cities, the film went on to play in 50 markets, never playing on more than fifty screens at any given time. Despite the limited release, it was a critical and financial success, earning $3.1 million. Initially, the film received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, solely for the graphic language. Miramax hired Alan Dershowitz to defend the film, and at an appeals screening, a jury consisting of members of the National Association of Theater Owners reversed the MPAA’s decision, and the film was given an R rating instead.
Smith’s second film, Mallrats, did not fare as well as expected after the remarkable success of Clerks. It received a critical drubbing and earned merely $2.2 million at the box office, despite playing on more than 500 screens. The film marked Jason Lee’s debut as a leading man. Despite failing at the box office during its theatrical run, Mallrats proved more successful in the home video market.
Widely hailed as Smith’s best film, Chasing Amy marked what Quentin Tarantino called “a quantum leap forward” for Smith. Starring Mallrats alumni Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams and Ben Affleck, the $250,000 film earned $12 million at the box office and wound up on a number of critics’ year-end best lists, and won two Independent Spirit Awards (screenplay and supporting actor for Lee).
In 1996, Smith worked on a script for a Superman movie. He did a couple of drafts but his script was dropped when Tim Burton was hired to direct. Burton brought his own people to work on the project. Smith still sees the whole experience on working on the Superman project as a positive one however; he has said that he was well paid and it was a lot of fun. (In April, 2009, Smith discussed his Superman experiences at Clark University—a YouTube video critic A.O. Scott of the New York Times called “extraordinary.”) In the end, neither Smith’s nor Burton’s vision for Superman was filmed. In the 2007 Direct-to-DVD animation release of Superman: Doomsday, Smith has a cameo as an onlooker in a crowd. After Superman defeats The Toyman’s giant mechanical robot, Smith scoffs, “Yeah, like we really needed him to defeat that giant spider. Heh. Lame!” This was a reference to a giant spider that producer Jon Peters wanted Smith to put in the Superman movie when he was attached, that was later put into the 1999 feature film flop Wild Wild West, which Peters also produced.
In 1997, Smith was hired by New Line to rewrite Overnight Delivery, which was expected to be a blockbuster teen movie. Smith’s then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams almost took the role of Ivy in the movie, instead of the female lead in Chasing Amy. Eventually she lost out to Reese Witherspoon, and Overnight Delivery was quietly released directly to video in April 1998. Kevin Smith’s involvement with the film was revealed on-line, but he remains uncredited. He has said that the only scene which really used his dialogue was the opening scene, which includes a reference to long-time Smith friend Bryan Johnson.
Smith’s fourth film, Dogma, featured an all-star cast and found itself mired in controversy. The religious-themed 1999 comedy, which starred a post-Good Will Hunting Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, as well as Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, George Carlin, Alan Rickman, Linda Fiorentino, and Smith regulars Jason Lee and Jason Mewes, raised criticism by the Catholic League.The film debuted at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, out of competition. Released on 800 screens in November 1999, the $10 million film earned $30 million.
Smith then focused the spotlight on two characters who had appeared in supporting roles in his previous four films, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back featured an all-star cast, with many familiar faces returning from Smith’s first four films. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appear as themselves filming a mock sequel to Good Will Hunting. The $20 million film earned $30 million at the box office and received mixed reviews from the critics.
In 2004, Smith wrote a screenplay for a new film version of The Green Hornet, and announced prematurely that he had originally intended to direct as well. The project, however died after the film was placed into turn around following the poor box office of Jersey Girl. Smith’s screenplay was turned into a Green Hornet comic book miniseries.
Jersey Girl with Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, George Carlin and Raquel Castro, his first outside of the View Askewniverse, was meant to mark a new direction in Smith’s career. However, the film took a critical beating as it was seen as, in Smith’s own words, “Gigli 2“, due to the fact that it co-starred Affleck and his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez. Despite Smith heavily re-editing the film to reduce Lopez’s role to just a few scenes, the film did poorly at the box office. Budgeted at $35 million, it earned only $36 million.
In the 2006 sequel, Clerks II, Smith revisited the Dante and Randal characters from his first film for what was his final visit to the View Askewniverse. Roundly criticized before its release, the film went on to win favorable reviews as well as two awards (the Audience Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Orbit Dirtiest Mouth Award at the MTV Movie Awards). It marked Smith’s third trip to the Cannes International Film Festival, where Clerks II received an eight minute standing ovation. The $5 million film, starring Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Rosario Dawson, Jason Mewes, Jennifer Schwalbach and Smith himself – reprising his role as Silent Bob – earned $25 million.
That same year, Smith was featured in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, a 2006 documentary about the Motion Picture Association of America process of rating films. Smith’s interview was in reference to Jersey Girl receiving an R rating, and Clerks originally receiving an NC-17 rating.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno was originally announced in March 2006 as Smith’s second non-Askewniverse comedy.The film, which began shooting on January 18, 2008 in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, and wrapped on March 15, 2008, stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as the title characters who decide to make a low-budget pornographic film to solve their money problems. The film, which was released on October 31, 2008, ran into many conflicts getting an “R” rating, with Rogen stating:
It’s a really filthy movie. I hear they are having some problems getting an R rating from an NC-17 rating, which is never good… They [fight against] sex stuff. Isn’t that weird? It’s really crazy to me that Hostel is fine, with people gouging their eyes out and shit like that, but you can’t show two people having sex – that’s too much.
Smith took the film through the MPAA’s appeals process and received the R rating, without having to make any further edits.Zack and Miri Make a Porno was considered a box office “flop” in part because of “tepid media advertising for a movie with the title PORNO”, and, in the aftermath of the film’s “flaccid” performance, the business relationship between Smith and producer Harvey Weinstein became “frayed”.
It was announced in 2009 that Smith had signed on to direct a buddy-cop comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan called A Couple of Dicks and written by the Cullen Brothers.Due to controversy surrounding the original title, it was changed to A Couple of Cops, before reverting back its original title, A Couple of Dicks, due to negative reaction, before finally settling on the title Cop Out.The film, which was shot between June and August 2009, involved a pair of veteran cops tracking down a stolen vintage baseball card, and was released on February 26, 2010 to poor reviews; it was the first film that Smith has directed but not written. With a worldwide domestic gross of $55,583,804, Cop Out is Smith’s highest grossing film to date.
In September 2010, Smith started work on Red State, an independently-financed horror film inspired by the Westboro Baptist Church and their Pastor Fred Phelps. In February 2010, he talked about his project with Cinssu, Film producers and moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein who had thus far been involved in the distribution of most of Smith’s films, with the exception of Mallrats and Cop Out, declined to support Red State. The film stars Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo and Stephen Root. Smith had indicated that he would auction off rights to the $4 million film at a controversial event following the debut screening of the film at Sundance but instead, kept the rights to the film himself with plans to self-distribute the picture “under the SModcast Pictures” banner. The film was released via Video on Demand on September 1, 2011 through Lionsgate, will be released in select theaters again for a special one-night only engagement on September 25, 2011 (via SModcast Pictures), and was released on home video October 18, 2011. Kevin Smith listed Mel Gibson as a role-model he looked up to, and his inspiration, for how he planned to distribute this movie, citing Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ as an example of a successfully self-distributed movie. He further explained his decision as a way to return to an era when marketing a film did not cost four times as much as the film itself, a situation he has described as “both decadent and deadening”. The film was released in January 2011. The premiere drew protests from a half-dozen members of the church, along with many more who counter-protested Westboro members.
Smith will direct a hockey drama-comedy based on the song “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)” by Warren Zevon. The song, which is about a hockey player famous for fighting in the rink, was co-written by Tuesdays With Morrie author Mitch Albom, who is working with Smith on the film.
Although Smith had previously mentioned other projects he had planned, he announced at the Sundance premiere of Red State that Hit Somebody will be the last movie he ever directs, and that he will continue to tell stories in other media. In August Hit Somebody was announced as a two part film titled Hit Somebody: Home and Hit Somebody: Away with part one being PG-13 and part 2 being Rated R, but later decided to make it one movie and hopes to premiere it at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Smith further explained his retirement from directing, citing distribution politics, and the manner in which making films like Zack and Miri “adulterated” his own identity as a filmmaker, saying, “I don’t have the same passion for it I used to. I don’t have any stories left to tell.” Smith further emphasized that he sees himself as a writer rather than a director, and that Harvey Weinstein developed his career as a celebrity auteur because “my films were never strong enough to stand up on their own.”
Smith has been a regular contributor to Arena magazine. In 2005, Miramax Books released Smith’s first book, Silent Bob Speaks, a collection of previously published essays (most from Arena) dissecting pop culture, the movie business, and Smith’s personal life. His second book, My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith, published by Titan Books, was another collection of previously published essays (this time blogs from Smith’s website www.silentbobspeaks.com) and reached No. 32 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Titan released Smith’s third book Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: The Best of the SModcast on September 29, 2009.
A lifelong comic book fan, Smith’s early forays into comic books dealt with previously established View Askew characters, and were published by Oni Press. He wrote a short Jay and Silent Bob story about Walt Flanagan’s dog in Oni Double Feature No. 1, and followed it with a Bluntman and Chronic story in Oni Double Feature #12. He followed these with a series of Clerks comics. The first was simply Clerks: The Comic Book, which told of Randal’s attempts to corner the market on Star Wars toys. The second was Clerks: Holiday Special, where Dante and Randal discover that Santa Claus lives in an apartment between the Quick Stop and RST Video. Third was Clerks: The Lost Scene, showing what happened inside Poston’s Funeral Parlor. This story was later animated in the TV series style and included as an extra on the 10th Anniversary Clerks DVD.
Smith then wrote the mini-series Chasing Dogma, which tells the story of Jay and Silent Bob between the films Chasing Amy and Dogma. He has also written the trade paperback Bluntman and Chronic, published by Image, which purports to be a collection of the three issues of the series done by Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards (of Chasing Amy). It includes a color reprinting of the story from Oni Double Feature No. 12, purported to be an early appearance by Chasing Amy characters Holden McNeil and Banky Edwards. These stories have all been collected in Tales From the Clerks (Graphitti Designs, ISBN 0-936211-78-4), which also includes a new “Clerks” story tying in to the Clerks 2 material, and the story from Oni Double Feature #1. They were previously collected by Image Comics in three separate volumes, one each for Clerks, Chasing Dogma and Bluntman and Chronic. In 1999, Smith won a Harvey Award, for Best New Talent in comic books.
In 1999, Smith wrote “Guardian Devil”, an eight-issue story arc of Daredevil for Marvel Comics, which was illustrated by Joe Quesada. Kevin Smith followed this by producing a 15-issue tenure on Green Arrow for DC Comics that saw the return of Oliver Queen from the dead and the introduction of Mia Dearden, a teenage girl who would become Speedy after Smith’s run had ended.
Smith returned to Marvel for two mini-series: Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do and Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target, both of which debuted in 2002. The former was six issues long, but after the third issue was published two months after the initially scheduled release date, the final issues were delayed for at least three years, prompting Marvel to release an “in case you missed it” reprinting of the first three issues as one book prior to the remaining issues’ release. The delay in part was due to Smith’s movie production schedule (in this case, work on Jersey Girl and Clerks II) causing him to shelve completion of the mini-series until the films were completed. He was announced as the writer of an ongoing Black Cat series and The Amazing Spider-Man in early to mid-2002. However, because of the delays on Evil That Men Do and The Target, the plan was switched so that Smith would start a third Spider-Man title, launched in 2004 by Mark Millar instead. While Spider-Man/Black Cat was ultimately completed in 2005, Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target remains unfinished, with one issue published.
Smith wrote the limited series Batman: Cacophony, with art by friend Walt Flanagan, which ran from November 2008 to January 2009. As announced at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, the series featured the villains Onomatopoeia (a character created by Smith during his run at Green Arrow), The Joker, Maxie Zeus, and Victor Zsasz. The trade paperback of Batman: Cacophony became a New York Times Bestseller in their Hardcover Graphic Books section.
In 2010 Smith subsequently wrote a six-issue Batman mini-series called The Widening Gyre for DC, and a Green Hornet story for Dynamite Entertainment, the latter of which was based on an unused script he wrote for a Green Hornet film project that never came to fruition.
In August 2011, Dynamite Entertainment debuted The Bionic Man by Smith, which was based on a 1998 script he wrote that was rejected by Universal as being “more like a comic book than a movie.”
In 2000, Smith and Mosier teamed up with television writer David Mandel to develop an animated television show based on Clerks. called Clerks: The Animated Series that aired on ABC in May 2000. It aired only two episodes before being canceled as a result of poor ratings. The six produced episodes were released on DVD in 2001.
During the mid-1990s Smith directed and starred in a series of commercials for MTV, alongside Jason Mewes, in which they reprised their roles as Jay & Silent Bob. In 1998 he directed best friend Jason Mewes as “Gary Lamb – Ground Activist” in a series of Nike commercials. That same year, he also shot commercials for Diet Coke. Two years later, he directed “Star Wars” toy commercials for Hasbro. He has also directed and starred in commercials for Panasonic. In 2004 he also shot a public service announcement for the Declare Yourself organization. These advertisements brought Jay and Silent Bob out of their “semi-retirement.”
On February 27, 2002 Kevin released a short film for The Tonight Show called “The Flying Car”.
Kevin appears in and produces the reality television series Comic Book Men, which is set inside Smith’s comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, in Red Bank, New Jersey. The first season ran for six one-hour episodes, the premiere of which aired on February 12, 2012, following the return of The Walking Dead‘s second season on AMC. On May 9, AMC announced that Comic Book Men was renewed for a second season of 16 half-hour episodes.
For the rest of Smith’s very impressive (and very lengthy) biography, please check out Wikipedia.com.
And to Kevin Smith, the Silent One, Happy 42nd Birthday, Man!
* BIG BOOBIE HUGS!*