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The Untold Truth Of Kevin Smith

What truth might there be left to tell about Kevin Smith that he hasn't already told himself? The prolific and sometimes incendiary filmmaker is well-known for speaking his mind, playing by his own rules, and snarkily but staunchly defending his art, beliefs, personality, and family. He has a knack for turning every situation to his advantage and making it all look like a part of his quirky plan because, while he's defiant and dogged in pursuit of his art, he never sacrifices genuineness.

Perhaps Smith's remarkable steadfastness is the reason he has achieved such versatility among a disparate array of niche audiences. Some fans may know him as an indie darling and stoner comedy auteur, with no idea that he has also made a mark in horror cinema. Others might know him better for his writing in the superhero world, in comics and on television shows like The Flash and Supergirl. After reading this article, you'll hopefully know Kevin Smith for all that and more.

Batman trivia

Kevin Smith wrote some of his Batman: The Widening Gyre comics between 2009 and 2010 while high, to the point where he didn't remember writing them the next day. He simply woke up and gave it a look, thinking delightedly to himself as he read it for essentially the first time, "This is dope." He cites his stoned writing on this project as some of his most creative writing, allowing him to get more into details and take a different perspective on the characters and story. Fans and critics, on the other hand, despised this version of Batman.

Regardless of approval, in much of his Batman artistry and personal life, we can see Smith paying respects to influences he values. As an homage to the Batman villain, Smith named his daughter Harley Quinn. The title of The Widening Gyre comes from the first line of a poem by William Butler Yeats entitled "The Second Coming," which he wrote after World War I and in which the namesake phrase symbolizes the spiraling course of global historical movements. In the poem, the traditional narrative of the second coming in which Jesus returns as a hero to an ailing society is replaced with one in which a "rough beast" arrives instead. Batman, too, complicates and darkens the notion of a hero: He's not a knight in shining armor but a hardened creature of the night.

Comic relief

In addition to writing comics himself, Kevin Smith owns a comic store in New Jersey called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. Ironically, the filmmaker had to get rid of his own stash to front the money for 1994's Clerks: He sold his comic book collection to finance the production and then bought it back when the film was a success — one of many examples of Smith shamelessly betting on himself.

His comic book bent leaks into his films in other more obvious ways, like the comic book artist characters of 1997's Chasing Amy, who pen the Bluntman and Chronic (another nod to Batman and Robin) comics based on their stoner friends, (you guessed it) Jay and Silent Bob. After Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in 2001, the second of three films to feature the comic book series along with Chasing Amy and 2019's Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Smith released real versions of the initially fictional comic book series.

Jay and Silent Bob trivia

The 1998-1999 comic book miniseries Chasing Dogma was a response to fan curiosity about what happened to Jay and Silent Bob between Chasing Amy in 1997 and Dogma in 1999. The first installment features the pair's meeting with Holden as depicted in Chasing Amy. At the end of a series of adventures ranging from eviction to meeting Neil Patrick Harris, the two investigate a nighttime noise they hear near the parking lot of the Planned Parenthood where they are waiting to "get chicks," leading to the events of Dogma.

Speaking of backstories, there is a lot more in Silent Bob's character history than you might guess. For one thing, Kevin Smith's daughter, who has collaborated with him on multiple projects, plays the young child version of Silent Bob in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. And of course, Smith's most recognizable character, Silent Bob, derives his name from an obscure line in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film: Joker requests his weapon from Bob the Goon, saying, "Bob, gun." Bob handing the gun to the Joker in such stoic fashion partly inspired "Silent Bob" and his taciturn personality.

Kevin Smith's most sizable accomplishment is the unaccomplished

There's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to "Kevin Smith's unrealized projects," if that gives you an idea of just how extensive his creative endeavors are. On this list, we can find a pilot for Clerks: The TV Show, the production of which Smith was unaware until casting had already begun. He withdrew from his brief subsequent involvement in the series when his idea for a script was relegated to a B-plot. He later used the script in an episode of 2000's Clerks: The Animated Series, of which there are also many unmade episodes filed under "unrealized."

The multitalented artist has even stated a desire to write a children's book, which would be the both unlikely and perfectly fitting marriage of his seemingly paradoxical devoted-family-man and rough-around-the-edges-creator personas. And in the true Kevin Smith fashion of taking horror and making it even more uncanny, he at one point sought to produce a Christmas horror movie called Anti-Claus but was beat to the punch in 2015 by Krampus (though the title Anti-Claus would have been cool to see, since it rhymes with Santa Claus).

Kevin Smith did an almost complete 180

Starting in 2011 with Red State, Kevin Smith moved from the comedy genre into the horror genre. Fans of the classic Kevin Smith might not know the full extent of this departure from his original brand, other than being painfully aware of the fact that Smith, until Jay and Silent Bob Reboot in 2019, hadn't made a film in his "View Askewniverse" since 2006's Clerks 2.

His first film in the horror genre, Red State was a stomach-turning (so continue reading with caution) political horror thriller in which conservative religious zealots capture, torture, and kill or attempt to kill individuals they perceive as sinful, including a gay man as well as three teenage boys who one member of the congregation lured with the promise of group sex. As if the ritual murders and bone-chilling religious fanaticism weren't enough, the original ending called for the coming of the Rapture and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Smith's horror pieces have only gotten weirder. 2014's Tusk depicts a former sailor who was saved from his shipwreck by a walrus, but after being stranded for too long, he was forced to consume the beast who had become his friend. Now he is a serial killer who mutilates his victims, sewing them into a walrus suit made of their own flesh (complete with tusks carved from their own leg bones). Smith's horror films certainly leave us as speechless as Silent Bob.

Many of Kevin Smith's unrealized projects already have backing

Speaking to how prolific and versatile Kevin Smith is, many of his unrealized projects revolve around the fact that he wants to be fully involved in them and is so busy with existing projects that he doesn't have the time. In addition to working on comics, directing, producing, starring in, and writing films, and various other creative pursuits, Smith also has a podcast network. His film Tusk, about a podcaster who, in the process of searching for interesting subject matter, falls prey to a serial killer, is actually based on a story from his SModcast podcast. If it had been produced, Anti-Claus would have been based on an episode of another Smith podcast, Edumacation.

Many of the projects he has foregone due to not being able to devote his full attention to them have already been cleared for takeoff and are just waiting for their moment. It's a blessing and a burden to be so successful that you can't even keep up with the desire for more of your material. One example of these unrealized but pre-authorized projects is a potential Jay and Silent Bob video game that fans have long been clamoring for.

Naysayers can be friends

Kevin Smith is still friends with a former girlfriend's mother (but not the girlfriend). This woman reportedly wrote "Kevin Smith will never be a famous writer" on a piece of paper and said she'd eat it if she proved her wrong. Smith has, in fact, achieved notoriety for his writing ever since his hometown's talent shows and his college creative writing classes. For his appearances on Degrassi: The Next Generation, he wrote all of his own dialogue. And these early wins pale in comparison to his entire career.

While many people in Smith's life, including some of his own fans and definitely critics, have underestimated him, his pragmatic self-estimation is what led him to become an indie icon with Clerks. He recalls hearing an interview with Robert Rodriguez in which the filmmaker commented on the error first-timers often make of "writing above their station in life" rather than what they have access to. Working within your experience, though, doesn't mean that you can't do something no one has done before: A convenience store is, by all accounts, a very mundane setting, but it was also an untapped source of raw human comedy.

This location also presented an unexpected obstacle that ended up saving money: The neon lights of the store would cast the actors in a green light, so Smith opted to shoot in black and white, which not only gave the film an authentic feel but was also one of the only affordable options.

Kevin Smith participated in a protest against his own movie

When Dogma was released in 1999, it drew condemnation from the religious community, especially the Catholic Church. The Catholic League condemned it as blasphemy, and public ire culminated in a protest organized outside the Lincoln Center in New York by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

Catholics also organized a protest outside a theater in Eatontown, New Jersey. The protest was heavily hyped but poorly attended, though it did attract such illustrious participants as Kevin Smith himself. The filmmaker made no attempt to hide his identity as he boldly asserted to a reporter that he didn't think the film "stood for anything positive."

It seems incredibly odd that a filmmaker would participate in this kind of demonstration, other than perhaps for publicity, until you consider the trajectory of many of his films' popularity over their lifetimes. Mallrats, in particular, was panned in 1995 when it came out, but over the subsequent decades, some critics came to consider it his greatest achievement.

Perhaps Smith was able to ironically participate in a protest of Dogma because he was so secure in his own art. He didn't care what anyone thought, from critics to protesters, in terms of Dogma, Mallrats, or any of his other films. And eventually, critics saw the value in Mallrats that Smith was confident in all along.

Kevin Smith's relationship with Tim Burton

Keven Smith has many professional relationships in the film industry, though some would be more aptly described by the straight-edged as "unprofessional." This often happens as a result of the way his peers struggle to receive his offbeat sense of humor, and his feud with Tim Burton is an example of this (though Smith has stated that the entire conflict itself was a joke). The controversy centered around the apparent fact that Burton's Planet of the Apes remake included a scene "stolen" right from one of Smith's published comics.

In response, Smith joked that he should talk to his lawyer about suing, to which Burton retorted that anyone who knows him knows he doesn't read comics, and he "especially wouldn't read anything that was created by Kevin Smith." What a slam.

But we do know of one thing written by Smith that Burton has read: the unique autograph employed for a while by the former. Earlier in their history, Burton replaced Smith as the screenwriter on the Superman Lives project, and afterward, Smith started signing all his autographs with "F*ck Tim Burton" ... allegedly also as a joke.

Family and birthdays are extremely meaningful

On his 21st birthday, Kevin Smith went to see Richard Linklater's film Slacker. (One interesting piece of trivia is that Smith has the same birthday as his brother, though they aren't twins.) He remembers reacting with "both awe and arrogance," thinking to himself that he'd never seen anything like this meandering movie about 20-something misfits — but if this "counts as a movie," well, he could certainly make one, too.

One of the only things more important to Smith than his films, though, is his family. Not only has he named his daughter his favorite actor to work with in an interview (of Smith by Harley Quinn) that made both of them cry, but he has insisted on Twitter that he would trade his creative career without a second thought for the joy he has found in family life. People have claimed that the quality of his work has declined since he got married and had a child, but Smith responds that if so, he got the better end of the deal, trading "great art" (which he muses might only arise from pain, anyway) for happiness.

His relationship with his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, certainly seems to be full of love and playfulness: He once did a nude shoot of his spouse with a Superman lookalike for Playboy magazine. The pair has been married since 1999, plus a renewal of vows in Las Vegas in 2004 ... also for his birthday.

Plant power

Perhaps best known for making stoner comedies, Kevin Smith actually didn't really smoke for a long time — until Seth Rogen got mildly offended that throughout the production of 2008's Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Smith had never invited him to toke up together. Though Rogen was a bit misguided in his assumption that Smith was a hardcore pothead, it did become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: After taking Rogen up on the offer, Smith fell in love with it.

Smoking inspired some of Smith's ideas, including Batman comics that he doesn't remember writing. Marijuana also saved his life, allowing the stoner comedy writer to avoid a tragedy: Smith survived his 2018 heart attack because being high allowed him not to panic. Afterward, he made the switch to a vegan diet. He credits his daughter with inspiring him to take the leap for his health after his heart attack, another way in which she was his "salvation," as he has said of her saving him from his cynicism and making him a better filmmaker. In addition to his daughter, it seems Smith owes his life to plants: those that make up his diet and the one he was smoking when he went into cardiac arrest.

Kevin Smith plays by his own rules

The musical artist Prince once enlisted Kevin Smith to make a documentary, but Smith quickly found himself ill-suited for the task and for dealing with the pop star. It's understandable, though — apparently, Prince was disconnected from the practical limitations of someone who, well, wasn't Prince: You can't just ask for a camel at 3:00 AM. Having witnessed a number of odd behaviors, Smith eventually talked about the experience in front of a live audience. Prince tried to sue Smith for his indiscretion but then realized that Smith had never signed the nondisclosure agreement sent to him.

For Red State, Smith auctioned off the distribution rights at Sundance but then bought them from himself, to the chagrin of some of the industry. He also edited Red State while filming, an unconventional choice, and showed a real cut to the cast and crew just two days after wrapping. From being thrown out of college for dropping water balloons onto the Manhattan streets from his dorm room to posting NSFW tweets (click carefully) about his wife, Kevin Smith does whatever he wants ... and it's exactly what we fans need.