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Jason Mewes Reveals His Favorite Non-Jay And Silent Bob Film Experiences

When an actor finds fame with his very first role and follows it up by repeatedly reprising that role, it's hardly shocking when he's typecast. Jason Mewes is a perfect example of this phenomenon in action: for the majority of the world at large, he is Jay, the loudmouthed loiterer first glimpsed alongside his ever-present pal Silent Bob in Kevin Smith's Clerks.

It might surprise you, then, to learn that Mewes has made 40 films in which he's playing someone other than Jay or himself. (Yes, all right, in more than a few of those 40, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Jay and the character he's actually playing, but that's hardly the point.) Looper chatted with Mewes in conjunction with the release of his latest film, Vigilante Diaries (now available on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray), and we decided we'd use the opportunity to shine the spotlight on some of his non-Jay roles, almost all of which have flown underneath the radar, and find out which ones provided him with the most memorable and/or enjoyable experiences.

Mr. Mewes sets the stage

"Over the years, there's been a nice amount of people who've offered me some cool roles," Mewes told Looper. "I was talking to someone yesterday and explaining to them that it's not always the script. The scripts aren't always awesome. A lot of people will come and go, 'I'm just curious: why did you do this movie? It wasn't that good!' And I'm, like, 'I get it, but the character was way different for me to play compared to what I've been in the past.' Sometimes I'll get a script, and even if the script in itself isn't great, if the character is different for me, then I'll do it. I want to challenge myself."

Drawing Flies (1996)

"After we did Clerks, I went back to work in roofing. I didn't even think about acting. It wasn't a plan of mine. I just went back to work. But then Kevin said, 'Oh, my God, it got picked up!' We went to the Sundance Film Festival, and Miramax saw the movie and bought it, and they were going to do this three-picture deal, so we did Mallrats, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

"Well, while we were on Mallrats, which was only the second movie I'd ever made and my first studio movie, we met a gentleman named Malcolm Ingram, who was like, 'Hey, after you do this, I wrote a script, I've got the money for it, it's called Drawing Flies.' And he offered me that. Honestly, that's sort of where I went, 'Wow!' Of course, after Mallrats, I had to quit my job, and I was getting a per diem, but I wasn't getting paid a lot. It's funny, because people were like, 'Man, you must have, like, three cars because of Mallrats!' And I had to tell them, 'No, that was the first movie where I didn't just get scale from the union. I think at that time it was something like $17,000, which after taxes you're looking at something like $9,000, and...that's not going to set me up for life or anything!

"So my point is that after Mallrats I was, like, 'Wow, maybe this is something I can do...or maybe I might have to go back to work!' But then Malcolm offered me that movie. So I went out to Vancouver for a month, or a month and a half or whatever it was, and it was there that I went, 'Wow, this is my third movie, and it's a different character, so hopefully I'll get more offers! And I can start auditioning, because I'll have three movies under my belt!' So that film was sort of what made me decide, 'Okay, this is something I can really go for and do as a living, hopefully.' Actually, after that, I got home, and I still had to deliver pizza to make some scratch while I was trying to do other things! But it's still when I made the decision to try and make acting a career, if you will."

National Lampoon's TV: The Movie (2006) / Poolboy: Drowning Out The Fury (2011)

"Over the years, I've gotten to meet and work with a lot of cool people. I mean, of course, there's all of the people from Kevin's movies—Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Stan Lee—but there are a lot even besides Kevin's movies. Doing all of these indie movies, I've definitely gotten to work with some interesting people, people that I loved watching when I was growing up.

"Danny Trejo is such a great, nice gentleman. He and I have been in a few movies together. The first one—and the one where I met him—was a National Lampoon movie [called TV: The Movie]. We did a thing called "Sex in the Pen," and me and three other guys did sort of a spoof of Sex in the City in prison. You know how one of the characters does narration? I played that character in this thing, so I narrated the scenes and such. I had my hair in pigtails, and I had a tanktop on, with my prison blues tied up in a little knot so that my belly was showing. It was funny, goofy, and a lot of fun.

"I also did a movie called Poolboy with Danny Trejo, and I got to work with Kevin Sorbo on that, too, which was cool, because I'm a big fan of Hercules. I used to watch that and Xena all the time."

Bottoms Up (2006)

"People always ask me about Paris Hilton. I played a bartender in that movie. Y'know, again, the script wasn't amazing, and...it wasn't the greatest movie! But she was fun. And David Keith played my uncle! I feel like I've seen him in a hundred TV shows over the years, and he always plays an awesome character, so it was such a thrill to be working with him."

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

"I wouldn't say it was intimidating to be in one of Kevin's movies and not playing Jay, but I definitely was a little more nervous than usual. The good thing with Kevin is that I feel really comfortable with him, and I had him talking to me about trying to make the character different from Jay. What was more intimidating was the cast. To be working with Seth Rogen? That was a little intimidating! It was cool that I got to work with Jeff Anderson again, though.

I was definitely concerned about making sure that I was holding my own against the rest of the cast, though, and I was worried about having Lester just turn out to be Jay with short hair! But I tried my best. And Kevin makes everything run smoothly and creates such a comfortable vibe. He just comes to work and he's like, 'Hey, everybody, it's awesome to be here today, right? Are you ready to shoot?' And he sort of throws that energy at everyone else, and then everyone else is having a blast. So if I was worried about something on set, I'd talk to him.

"I will say, though, that my scenes with Katie Morgan... I think that would've been a little more nerve-wracking if that had been with someone else! I mean, I hadn't even really kissed anybody [onscreen] 'til the Jay and Silent Bob movie, and I remember that when I was making out with Shannon Elizabeth, I was so uncomfortable, because I didn't know what the protocol was. I was, like, 'Do I ask her if we're putting our tongues in each other's mouths? Is that something you ask? Is that insulting because, as an actor, I should know never to put your tongue in your co-star's mouth? I don't know!' And she was very nice, don't get me wrong, but I would say that she didn't really hang out and chit-chat a whole bunch, so I couldn't get really a vibe from her.

"Whereas Katie was, like, coming up to you in between takes and saying, like, 'Hey, how're you doing? What's going on?' She was very outgoing and chatty. So with her, it was just, like, 'Okay, Jay, this scene, if you're worried about it, don't be: I've done this a few times. We'll just pretend to do this. Don't worry about hurting me.' Because at first I was being obnoxious and, like, banging her against the counter, and I was worried I was going to hurt her head! But she said, 'Don't worry!' She just made it very comfortable and very easy to shoot that scene when we were pretending to do it in the coffee beans. And I really do think that if I had done that with anyone else, it would've just been very awkward, and it wouldn't have come across on camera as fun and goofy as it did. She made it great."

Vampire Apocalypse (2008)

"I did that in Canada. I play an EMT who finds a girl in an alleyway, and I try to nurse her back to health, but she winds up being a vampire. It was fun. It was different, for sure! When it came out on DVD, they changed the title—or at least they did in some places, anyway—but it was called Bitten at the time I made it."

The Last Godfather (2010)

"I got to play Vinnie the mobster! That was fun. I got to shoot tommy guns and drive a 1956 Lincoln. Harvey Keitel was in that, and he's another person, of course, whose movies I've been watching for years. I just think he's genius. So I was super nervous.

"At one point we were doing a scene where I'm supposed to draw my gun, and he draws a gun, and somebody yells, 'Shoot!' So we were blocking out the scene, trying to work out who should pull their gun first, who should shoot first, and Harvey kept putting his input in. He's, like, 'Well, I think in a scenario like this, we would do this, and I would do this...' And I put in my input, like, once or twice, saying, 'Yeah, I agree, maybe we should do this.' But the director kept saying something different. Not necessarily saying, 'No, we're not going to do it your way,' but...there was some confusion and miscommunication. So they were, like, 'Okay, let's take a break. We're going to light this, and then we'll figure it out when we get back.'

"So we took a break, and when I was outside, all of a sudden Harvey's assistant comes up and says, 'Hey, Harvey wants to talk to you in his trailer.' And I swear to God, I thought he was going to say, 'Hey, man, don't step all over me when I'm talkin'!' I thought he was gonna yell at me. I was so nervous. But when I got in there, he said, 'Hey, I just wanna go over that scene with you and get your input.' I just thought that was awesome."

Silent But Deadly (2011)

"One of the most interesting movies I feel I've done. It took a couple of years before it even saw the light of day—there were some issues and such with the producers and the financing and all sorts of craziness—but what was so interesting about it was that I had almost no dialogue. I think throughout the whole movie I said, like, four things, and that was just when I was naming the weapon I was going to use to kill. Like, when I'm going to use an axe, I just say, 'Axe!' Or 'Scythe!' Because one of the weapons was a scythe, like the Grim Reaper's.

"But it was so interesting for me, because usually each day when you get on a set, not only do you have to focus on memorizing and knowing the dialogue, but you also have to focus on blocking, to make sure you know if you're going to be walking over here, jump over there, or move over here. But I didn't have to worry about the talking. I could just have some fun slinging weapons and ducking and rolling!"

Zombie Hamlet (2012)

"I played an actor who came in and auditioned to play Hamlet, but they ran out of financing, so they had to try and make it on the cheap. So they decided to make it a zombie movie. So I was an actor playing an actor playing a zombie in Hamlet. So I got to do a little Shakespeare – 'To be or not to be!' – and it was fun. Shelley Long from Cheers was in it, and John Amos, who was in The Beastmaster, one of my favorite movies. So that was a blast as well."

K-11 (2012)

"I did that with Jules Stewart, the mom of Kristen Stewart from, y'know, the vampire movies? I got to play this guy who was dealing drugs in a prison, and it's a real dark drama. There's no comedy in it at all, really. So it was nice. It was way different than anything I've done, because it was a bunch of prisoners, and there are...What's the correct term? Is it "transgender"? Men who dress as women but also have been altered a little bit? Well, I'm dating one of them, and she's, like, the head honcho of the prison. It wound up being pretty dark and different, so that was a lot of fun."

Vigilante Diaries (2016)

"Vigilante Diaries is something that I produced and also acted in. It was a passion project for me and my friends Christian Sesma and Paul Sloan that started as a web series, and some people saw it and thought it could be a good movie, so they wound up giving them some more money, and we wound up making a movie out of it. And it turned out amazing. I mean, even getting more money, there still wasn't that much, but Christian was able to find a really good crew that was willing to not get paid a whole lot but who were good at their job.

"I remember the first time I got to go to a cast and crew screening and see it, after they'd gone somewhere and shot somewhere nice and sexy. That's right, I didn't get to go to that! But anyway, after they got back and finished the editing and the music and stuff, I sat there and watched it, and I just went, 'Oh, my gosh, this is amazing!' I couldn't believe it. I expected it to be good and all that, but when I saw the finished product, they really did an awesome job for the amount of money they had. I think it really worked as a web series, and as a movie, I think the production value is amazing."

Just a few closing remarks from Mr. Mewes

"It's taken awhile, but over the years people started seeing me in a couple of movies, saw that I could do other things, and had faith that I could deliver other performances and do other characters besides Jay, so they offered me a role, be it a mobster or an EMT or Hamlet. Again, Hamlet wasn't a serious thing—if it had been, I don't know how that would've gone over!—but it's all been a lot of fun. I love doing this stuff.

"My next thing I want to do is direct, and although it's not set in stone, I'm hoping I'll get to do that soon. A friend of mine from London, he and I came up with an idea for a script – he wrote it, I gave some notes, and we did some tweaking – and although the financing isn't 100%, it's very, very close. So if all goes is planned, I'm going to be directing this movie that my buddy and I did...and I'll be acting in it, too!

"What's funny though, is actually based on exactly what we've been talking about: it opens up with me doing a really serious, dramatic monologue, and then you find out that I'm really in for an audition, and they're, like, 'Oh, uh, we were hoping that you'd be playing the pot-smoking funny guy!' And I'm, like, 'No, I want to play this guy!' So I kind of get to tell my story. I mean, yeah, it's a movie, and it's make-believe, but it's also sort of how it is: I want to play a detective or a Hannibal Lecter type, and it's tough for someone to trust that I can do that. But hopefully the more I do, the more people will say, 'Oh, he could totally play that!'"