Comic-Con International 2019: Kevin Smith Reboots Hall H Panel Recap

Kevin-Smith-SDCC-2019
(Photo: Russ Burlingame)

On Saturday, July 20, filmmaker and geek icon Kevin Smith held his annual Hall H panel at Comic Con International in San Diego. The subject of the night, as fans can likely guess, was mostly Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, which Smith will be bringing to select theaters soon, but his freewheeling style of public speaking means that these panels tend to touch on a wide variety of topics, including his upcoming TV series, other plans for film projects, and his podcasting empire.

The panel began with an introduction by Jason Mewes, Smith's Reboot co-star and his director in Madness in the Method, who joked that he would be starring in a new Marvel movie called Mewes.

Smith, too, joked that it's tough to follow a Marvel panel, saying, "It's kind of like Kevin Feige comes out here and unfurls his dick and it just keeps going the whole stage, and I come out here and I'm like 'look at this!' And they zoom in on it." After talking about how excited he was for the Marvel slate, he transitioned to what he was in business for: talking about his movie, which was produced in part by Legion M, a fan-owned group of investors. He joked, too, about releasing the Reboot trailer in the hopes of getting out ahead of projects like Top Gun 2. He called Mewes back onto the stage along with Harley Quinn Smith (who plays Millie in the movie) to screen the trailer.

Smith, originally, wanted to do a shot-for-shot reboot of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, both as a gag and in homage to Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake. He said that instead he was moved to make the movie something else because of watching how Jason Mewes connects with his daughter. He cast his own daughter, in part because fans on social media always joke that she looks like Mewes.

"Putting this on the screen, there's a certain magic to it," Smith said. "He's known her since she was born, so we get some things out of them that we probably couldn't have gotten otherwise."

He added, "It gets crazy emotional, you'll get f--ked up, and you'll cry...and then you'll stop and you'll go 'This is a Jay and Silent Bob movie, man!'"

He compared it to Chasing Amy, saying that fans still like that movie because it wears its heart on its sleeve. He said that his longtime producer and collaborator Scott Mosier didn't work on this movie becuase he was directing The Grinch, and was one of the early reviews of the movie, saying that he was glad it was more than just an extended "remake" joke.

After screening the trailer, and then a scene in which Jay and Bob find out about the rebooted Bluntman v Chronic, starring Val Kilmer and Melissa Benoist, he came back out on stage and introduced Benoist ahead of screening the movie-within-a-movie scene.

The first quesiton asked whether Smith would be interested in doing a documentary about nerd kids with Autism. He said no, but that his niece, who has Autism and is an aspiring filmmaker, might be interested, and if she is, he'll help her.

The second question was about how Smith managed to get Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon in the movie.

"I don't know!" Smith joked. "I'm f--king flabbergasted."

Smith said he had not reached out to Affleck because they hadn't talked in a while, and in fact gave some of Holden McNeil's role to Brodie.

Smith said that entertainment journalist Kevin McCarthy had kept the flame alive of talking to View Askew actors about those movies, and that he had interviewed Affleck while the film was deep into production.

"When we started the movie we didn't know if we would get people to come down and do cameos becuase we were shooting in Louisiana, but since we were shooting during Mardi Gras...everybody came because it's a free trip to Mardi Gras." He also joked around that most of the cameos were from people who felt bad about saying no since he had almost died.

Affleck said during an interview with McCarthy that he would be willing to do the movie, and even then Smith said he wasn't going to call Affleck and find out that potentially their friendship really was over. After another week of people asking him to call Affleck, he finally decided to reach out. He almost tweeted at him, but after Mewes's wife Jordan told him not to do it, and to text it instead. He did, and waited with bated breath for Affleck's response. He was worried that he may have overstepped, but Affleck wrote back to him, "Of course you still liken yourself to a king." Smith said that back then, even if he never worked with Affleck again, he would have been happy. After bringing Affleck to Louisiana, Smith figured out he had to write a part for Affleck.

"The next morning, I texted him and I was like 'would you mind playing Holden again?' And he was like 'I was hoping you would say that.'" Smith, then, wrote an 8-page sequel to Chasing Amy, which both follows up on that one but also serves the story of Reboot. When Affleck showed up, Smith said he didn't know whether he would get his old friend, or the guy from Argo. Everything they shot was on the last day of production. Kevin, Jay, Joey Lauren Adams, and Affleck got together to rehearse the scenes. When they ran the scene, Affleck didn't have his sides, but he managed to get every word of his lines anyway.

Smith credits McCarthy with improving the movie by asking Affleck about the movie.

Smith said that he was invited to the Avengers: Endgame premiere by Hemsworth, when Hemsworth was on set for Reboot.

The next question from the audience was less a question and more an apology for having been rude to Jay counter at a 7-11. He followed up by asking whether Smith would ever direct a Marvel movie.

"This seems like a cop-out answer but I really don't want to," Smith said. "It seems really hard and expensive....I love directing episodes of SUpergirl because it's like 9 days, man. You get in, you get out, you can't f--k it up because it's an extremely well-oiled machine."

"I love having something that I don't have to be a part of that's a part of my world," Smith said. "Just because they make movies and I make movies doesn't mean I want to make their movies -- and trust me, they don't want me to make their movies."

He told the story of how Kevin Feige called him and told him about the Stan Lee cameo from Captain Marvel months in advance. He asked Smith to help him by providing some alternate takes from Mallrats since Lee's voice had been failing during the shoot for Captain Marvel. Smith pointed him in the direction of Universal Pictures, who owned Mallrats, to get it done.

The next fan asked Smith about the use of music in his films.

"Usually it's an afterthought, never in advance," Smith said. "We got lucky, we got a Pearl Jam track in the movie, 'Daughter,' and that came when I was in the editing room." Smith didn't think that they would get to use the song in the final cut of the movie, but they did. "I don't give it a hell of a lot of thought until I've got something to cut to, and then it's stuff that primarily comes off my iPod."

The next audience member asked about Smith's cameos, and how that process goes.

"It's nerve-wracking. The process of getting the cast together on Reboot was nerve-wracking for everybody," Smith said. "When we went to NO, we didn't have the full cast in place....We put it together slowly and we didn't think it was going to work out."

He said that when they shot Strike Back, they were in Los Angeles, so it was easier to lure talent to them. He said that it worked out in New Orleans largely because of the Mardi Gras thing.

Macaulay Culkin was originally going to play Cock Knocker, but couldn't. Neither could Mark Hamill.

Smith said that Comic Con had originally moved him to the end of the night because his material was a little too blue for the afternoon slot where he had originally been in Hall H. He still worries about the hall emptying out before his panel.

"I've always hitched this room to my relevancy in pop culture," he said. He admitted to worrying about the panel after The Force Awakens, when most of the audience left and the room was fairly empty. He joked that he sent out Mewes to introduce him becuase he was worried that the audience wouldn't be there.

The audience question was ultimately whether the movie has an end-credits scene. Smith said that during the credits, there's a Stan Lee memorial. During the rolling credits, he says, they will play a bunch of scenes cut from the feature film. After the credits, there is a post-credits scene, "which is one of my favorite f--king things in the movie," and is a big Easter egg for longtime fans.

Smith told another audience member that there's a chance he may make more episodes of Clerks: the Cartoon in 2020.

The next question was whether he had any projects that he wanted to do and hadn't been able to. He said that after Reboot, he thought it was a nice place to potentially end.

"Jay and Bob gave us so much that this movie is kind of like us giving something back to Jay and Silent Bob," Smith said. "Where they end up in this movie is a place where they deserve to be because they gave us so much."

He said that he feels the same way about Dante and Randal, who got a great moment at the end of Clerks II, when they realized that they are in command of their own future.

"When I wrote Clerks III, I wrote it during a weirder darker point in my life, and it's kind of like the King Lear of our movies," he said, adding that the movie is about death. "I love it, it's one of my favorite scripts, but it's dark. It's bleak, and it's not what Dante and Randal deserve. We're never going to make that verison of Clerks III, but I'm going to write a different Clerks III and we're going to make that f--king film, I promise. And in a world where we got to bring Ben back, I'll be able to bring Jeff back."

"They gave me this much, I owe them one last thing," Smith said.

He was asked about Howard The Duck, which he said is the last of the four Marvel animated series for Hulu. His partner on that show is Dave Willis from Aqua Teen Hunter Force, which he says is "the sensibility that you want to go along with Howard."

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The writer's room will open up in the next two months, and the cartoon is about a year away.

The final question was whether there is any mention of cheese fries in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot. "There's gonna be. We may have to go in and remix the sound a little bit but we can't let you down, man," Smith said.