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Why Jason Mewes Isn't In The Spotlight Much Anymore

Jason Mewes is better known simply as "Jay," the much more talkative half of Jay and Silent Bob, the iconic stoner duo he and filmmaker Kevin Smith have played for decades. The pair have appeared in many of Smith's films, moving up the ladder from bit parts in his 1994 big-screen debut, Clerks, to headlining their very own, multi-million dollar feature film, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, in 2001. The characters have inspired their own merchandising mini-empire, with their likenesses appearing on everything from t-shirts to bobble heads to their own comic book. 

Mewes, with his boyish charm, wild antics, and ability to add his own stoner-inspired lingo to the pop culture lexicon (Snootchie-Bootchies!), seemed destined for super-stardom — until a serious struggle with addiction derailed his career, nearly ending his life in the process. Wondering what your favorite Quick Stop loiterer has been doing in recent years? Read on to check out where you should be looking for him...and to learn the real reason you don't hear much from Jason Mewes anymore.

A rough childhood

Jason Mewes hails from Highlands, New Jersey, a small shore town that, before the addition of a ferry to Manhattan, was primarily known for its clamming industry and wide selection of local bars. Mewes never knew his father, and his mother battled addiction while moving in and out of prison throughout his childhood. On his blog, Kevin Smith told the story of the only Christmas present Mewes ever received as a child — a bicycle that was purchased after his mother stole credit cards from neighbors' mailboxes. She would later have a nine-year old Mewes deliver drugs throughout the neighborhood. "It's in my family," Mewes told The Fix. "I was born addicted to heroin. My mom was a heroin addict. My sister is a drug addict, my brother is a drug addict. It's in the blood and in the genes."

Though Smith and Mewes didn't know each other as kids, Smith has recalled hearing neighborhood stories of "that Mewes kid," whose antics were already becoming the stuff of urban legend.

Just being himself

Smith and Mewes would eventually come together when Mewes, still a high school student, and Smith, four years his senior, started attending the same after-school recreation center. The two found themselves thrown into the same group who bonded over a love of comics and a disdain for drugs and alcohol, with Mewes declaring himself "straight-edge" to the crew. Smith didn't know what to make of the eccentric Mewes, who would tell raunchy jokes and constantly bum cash from his older friends, but began to see his infectious star potential after witnessing Mewes simulate sex acts on an entire room of recreation equipment, including a vintage Asteroids arcade machine.

Smith went off to film school and returned after six months, ready to work on Clerks. He'd written a part for Mewes, based entirely on his real-life mannerisms and lingo. Mewes was now working as a roofer, and had taken up drinking and smoking pot. Upon viewing the script, Mewes declared to Smith, "I don't know if I can do this, man," lacking the self-awareness to recognize himself on the page. The reluctant actor spent the next month being coached on the set by Smith, who essentially taught Mewes how to act like himself.

The first taste

Mewes wouldn't start using heroin until two films after Clerks. Following a roller coaster ride on the set of Mallrats, in which he went from being so distrusted by the studio that they kept Seth Green on standby to play his role, to becoming the studio darling after they saw his dailies, Mewes was offered a role that wasn't the "Jay" character he'd created. Mewes shot the film Drawing Flies in Vancouver, where he got his first taste of the drug he'd sworn he would never try.

At this point Mewes' mother was out of jail — and HIV positive, presumably from her history of sharing drug needles. Mewes, hoping to avoid her fate, rationalized that snorting heroin would be a safer choice than shooting the drug. He returned home with months to kill between film work, and a lack of cash that forced him to go back to jobs roofing and delivering pizzas. His depression and boredom led to even more drug use, including cocaine and crack.

Remembering that day in Vancouver when he first tried heroin, Mewes told The Fix, "If I could go back, I would definitely tell myself not to do drugs."

The descent

Initially, Mewes did a fairly good job of hiding his addiction from Smith, and successfully filmed his part on the acclaimed Chasing Amy in 1997. But his addiction eventually became too hard to hide, and he admitted to Smith that he'd been using heroin. Smith moved Mewes out of his mother's home and into Smith's Red Bank, NJ apartment, where he could keep an eye on him as he enrolled in a nearby methadone program.

Dogma was next on the horizon, and a diligent Mewes, eager to keep Smith (and co-star Alan Rickman) happy, memorized not only his own lines but the entire script. Mewes managed to deliver a commendable performance, but started using again on the set with the aid of his new girlfriend, who had ironically been hired to keep an eye on him and make sure he stayed clean.

Upon returning to New Jersey, Mewes fell deeper into his drug-addled world, bringing chaos to the house of Smith and his pregnant girlfriend. When Smith kicked him out, Mewes moved in with his mother, who shared her OxyContin with her son, introducing him to a new drug habit. A few trashed hotel rooms and a stolen car and ATM card later, Smith demanded Mewes enter rehab.

Rock bottom

Thus began a cycle of Mewes entering and leaving various rehab and detox programs. In between, he would make it to the Dogma premiere and record the audio tracks for a short-lived Clerks animated series. He cleaned up enough to get through the filming of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but went back to using Oxy as soon as the film wrapped — and started smoking crack after his mother died. A few more stints in rehab followed, funded by Smith and their friend Ben Affleck; sobriety didn't stick, however, and Smith kicked him out of the film Jersey Girl —  which he would have had a hard time making anyway, considering there was a bench warrant out for Mewes in his home state, where they were filming.

Living in an apartment with no electricity, kicked out of yet another film project, and now cut off from his friends, including Smith, Mewes recognized he might have reached rock bottom when he awoke on a couch that had been set on fire. He returned to New Jersey to face the music, and was given the opportunity to go to a state-funded rehab instead of spending a year in jail. He emerged sober after a six-month stay and was celebrated at a party at Smith's comic book store in Red Bank. He returned to Los Angeles to live with Smith's family and hang with a sober celebrity crew, including Jack Osbourne.

Jay and Silent Bob get old

As promising as his recovery seemed, Mewes relapsed. He later admitted that he had stopped attending meetings, and had nobody to be accountable to. This led Mewes and Smith to create the podcast Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, which has been produced since 2010, with the two touring the entire globe to record in front of live audiences of fans. Mewes told Civilized that while the intent of the podcast was to help him to stay sober, he never realized that his stories might help other people get sober in the process too.

As for Mewes occasionally being exposed to dangerous behavior while he's on the road? He has insisted that it's no problem at all. "I can be around drinking, and I can be around smoking and not even think about doing either one," he explained. "The opiates are my downfall... marijuana and drinking and stuff, I'm okay with."

Hey, Daddy-O!

In 2015, Mewes and his wife Jordan Monsanto became parents to a daughter, Logan Lee Mewes. Mewes told Metro that embarking on parenthood may not have completely changed him, but he admitted that his daughter has become his main focus in most of what he does. "'All I do is think about her now. When I used to travel I'd want to go out three days earlier than when work started but now I've got to leave at the very last minute and come back soon because I've got to be with the baby."

As for ever showing his daughter the films he's made with Kevin Smith? Mewes said if she wants to see them, she can wait until she's 18, and even then, he wouldn't want to sit and watch his own performances with her. "At any age I don't want to," he explained. "Among other things she'd see me butt naked."

Working it out

If you feel like you haven't seen Jason Mewes in anything since his Jay and Silent Bob days, it may be because you weren't looking hard enough. He actually works in film and television quite a bit, racking up roughly 100 credits on his IMDb page. They include not only his many performances as Jay, but also a regular role on the Canadian series Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, Lester the porn star in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno, appearances on The Flash television series, and a slew of indie films. He's also rounded out his acting resume with plenty of voiceover work, lending his voice to video games, animated series, and films. In 2016, he stepped behind the camera to direct and star in a fantasy version of his life titled The Madness in the Method, directing pals Kevin Smith and Danny Trejo, as well as well-known actors like Teri Hatcher and Judd Nelson.

When Mewes isn't busy on the set, he fills his time basking in his View Askewniverse icon status by making regular appearances at fan events like Comic Con and, of course, touring with the podcast Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. Rumors have also floated for years about a Mallrats 2, a Clerks 3, and a sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back called Jay and Silent Bob Get a Reboot, which Smith claims is still happening.

Mewes Juice

As if being a new dad, touring with his podcast, and continuing to develop his film career weren't enough, Mewes has also kept himself occupied by starting a new business. Mewes Juice is touted as a high-end vapor juice that comes in five flavors with stoney-approved names, like the berry-flavored Doobie Snacks and the Red Bull-flavored Mewes Aid. Mewes told The Fix that the idea for the company came from his desire to quit smoking, coupled with some advice he got from Smith to always keep himself as busy as possible. "I got together with some guys and it's just another plate to spin. That's Kevin's terminology," said Mewes. "He says try to spin as many plates as possible. I just keep busy and work as much as I can... I feel like the Mewes Juice and vaporizers was just another cool thing that I could get behind."