Kevin Smith is a monster. Not because he’s the size of one these days (he recently posted a blog about how he was taking a break from filmmaking to lose weight), but because he’s become one of those forces of nature here in Hollywood that even a so-so track record can’t slow down. His movies over the past 15 years have never scored huge box-office numbers, but still his fans flock to him like a foul-mouthed Jesus who dispenses all-too-wise cinematic parables about life, love, and even religion. And he’s become an even greater deity among fanboys. He’s scribed some of the hottest titles in comics (Daredevil, Green Arrow, Spider-Man), and his presence at any comic-con-like event guarantees throngs of bloggers going apeshit.
I sat down with this monster and several other reporters at a roundtable press conference recently to talk about his latest movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and we ended up discussing Star Wars-themed porn, regular porn-themed porn, and the possibility of him finally helming a comic-book movie of his own (presumably sans porn) — oh, and breathed his Marlboro menthol secondhand smoke against our will.
The critics seem to agree Zack and Miri is your best work to date. Did you have a sense of that as you were shooting it?
Not really, not really. It was all when people started seeing it and saying, “This is the best film you’ve ever made.” I’m like, “What?” The weird one is when people go, “This is the best one you’ve made since Chasing Amy.” It’s a weird compliment to receive … `because` I’m like, “Fuck, maybe I ruined the other three.”
Like Chasing Amy, Zack and Miri also follows a fairly traditional romantic comedy structure.
When I was making it, I thought it was as close to Chasing Amy as anything I’ve ever done before in terms of structure and whatnot. I mean, we’re definitely a lot less serious than we were in Chasing Amy. Chasing Amy is a very earnest movie. Funny, but very earnest at the same time. This movie is more funny than I think Chasing Amy is, but it does this weird shift in the third act where it becomes kind of emotional. It catches people off guard, but, I don’t know, it works for me. It’s the kind of movie I enjoy watching. I love romantic comedies. I just can’t stand it when they’re sanitized and cleaned up, and it ends with a kiss. I like mine to have the fucking happen, and then everything falls apart. And I like people to speak candidly and frankly and use harsh language. Not to be a show-off, but because everyone I know speaks like that. When I see something like Made of Honor, I’m sitting there thinking, “Why am I watching this?” And my wife is going, “Yeah, why are you watching this?”
Why are you watching it?
I like romantic comedies, and I like Patrick Dempsey.
Do you like porn as much as romantic comedies?
No, I like romantic comedies more, but I do like porn very much. Not so much for titillation anymore. I’ve been married for 10 years, so sex is built in and free. So porn isn’t something I use as a tool anymore. I haven’t jerked off to a porn in I can’t tell you how many fucking years. But I look at porn every morning. Every morning I wake up, I do Google News, Guardian UK, and then I go to the free porn sites — any of the numerous ones I’ve bookmarked. Just by virtue of the fact that it shocks me that every time I click on it, I never see the same face twice. Always different people, always. It just makes you feel like the whole world is taking naked pictures of themselves. And I’m always looking for that one person I know because, by sheer process of elimination, I’m going to see someone I know. Only recently, I realized I’m looking at the wrong pages. Everyone I know is, like, 30, so I have to start looking at cougar-like sites.
How cool was it to merge Star Wars and porn in the movie?
That was awesome. For me, when I wrote the script, and there’s the moment in the script where it says, like, “The flap opens on R2D2 and you see a ball sack” — that made me laugh so hard while I was writing it, I couldn’t wait to get to the set. But I was like, “You know what? It’ll never be as good as when I wrote it, so let’s just face the fact it will never live up here.” `Then` it went beyond my expectations. When the flap opened, I was the one leading the laughter. I was like, “How fucking hysterical! His name’s R2-TBag and he’s got a big set of nuts.” It was kind of cool. There was some part of me, after shooting the sequence, that thought, maybe the porn should’ve been Star Wars, and maybe we should’ve followed it all the way through. But that wouldn’t have made much sense.
You’ve written comic books, you have a comics store, you know the world. Now seems to be the best time to be making a comic-book movie, so are you tempted to claim one for yourself?
Not really. For me, it’s the best time in the world to be a comic-book fan because the movies have just taken a jump. It was always cool when anybody made any comic-book movie, but now they’re making them really good. Dark Knight, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk I felt were really good comic-book movies this summer — Dark Knight being the clear leader by transcending comic-book movie into just a great film. So I’m happy to watch those movies. I just don’t think I got it in me to pull one of those off. And I think if I do make one, I give up the right to make fun of other people who do make them and make them poorly. Right now, nobody’s making them poorly. •