Kevin Smith will bring Ben Affleck back as Holden McNeil for a third time in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot later this month, but it almost didn't happen that way. Not just because of the filmmaker's well-documented estrangement from his friend and collaborator, but because even once Affleck was "in" for Reboot, Smith's first instinct was to put him into a different role. Specifically, the role of Cock-Knocker, the supervillain who battles the in-universe comic book characters of Bluntman and Chronic. The role, originally played by Mark Hamill, would have been smaller and less emotional than Holden, and more in line with other celebrity cameos in the movie.
Affleck returned to Smith's circle after entertainment journalist Kevin McCarthy asked the star whether he might appear in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot. Affleck told him at the time that he had not heard from Smith, but was open to it, and after some cajoling, Smith reached out, resulting in bringing the Justice League star in to reprise his role from Chasing Amy, a decision that reshaped the film's climax.
"Suddenly, we had Ben to play with. And he wasn't going to be Holden, because we had cast everything," Smith explained. "We had no roles left. I was going to bring him in and insert him intothe Bluntman V Chronic scene as Cock-Knocker. I asked him on the phone, 'So you want to come down and be Cock-Knocker?' He's like, 'Yeah, it'll be fun.' I slept on it. The next morning, I texted him. I said, 'You know what, man? You're making a trip all the way here. Let's make it worth it. How would you like to play Holden instead? Because this thing takes place at a Bluntman and Chronic Con. And so, Holden created Bluntman and Chronic, co-created them with Banky. So it would make sense if you were here.'"
He said that the inclusion of Affleck -- and, as a result, Holden -- took Chasing Amy star Joey Lauren Adams by surprise.
"I reached out to Joey, and I was like, 'Hey, man, we're going to do this thing,' and she was like, 'I was waiting for you to call me,'" Smith recalled. "She's like, 'I've been seeing everybody else is in the movie.' She's going, 'What am I doing? Am I coming out of a movie theater and saying gross things?' Because that's what she did on Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. And I said, 'No, we're going to do an eight minute sequel to Chasing Amy.' And she's like, 'How are you going to do that without Ben?' I was like, 'Ben is in,' and she was like, 'No!'"
He said that Adams was thrilled for Smith, knowing that the inclusion of Holden would give Smith his favorite self-insert character back and allow for a deeper emotional experience for the filmmaker.
In addition to Affleck, Adams, and a dozen or so other View Askew veterans, the film is jam-packed full of Hollywood stars including David Dastmalchian, Jason Lee, Joe Manganiello, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, Shannon Elizabeth, Fred Armisen, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Hemsworth, Method Man, Redman, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Brian Quinn, and Tommy Chong.
It's no secret a direct sequel to Jay and Silent Bob has been something Smith's long been wanting to do, finally getting funding and a distributor for the film within the past year. The film recently wrapped principal photography and afterward, Smith and film star Jason Mewes offered a heartfelt statement on what reuniting for Reboot meant to the two of them.
"We left Jersey a long time ago, not in our hearts, obviously, but like physically left the place and went so f---ing far," Smith previously said about the long-gestating film. "We probably don't go any of these places without me meeting Jason Mewes."
"I'm horrible at talking on the camera when it comes to sharing and baring my heart," Jason Mewes added while tearing up. "That is a f---ing wrap on Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and I love this guy and I'm gonna kiss him, and you're gonna see it."