In Louisville for Fandom Fest, Jason Mewes Talks ‘Clerks,’ Drug Addiction and Being Jay

Jason Mewes can’t escape it—he is Jay, the obnoxious stoner in several Kevin Smith films.

He’s played other characters in films since 1994′s “Clerks,” but, he tends to always gravitate toward the character.

Not that he’s trying to escape it.

In town for a showing of his latest film, Mewes stopped by WFPL on Wednesday to discuss the film, his life as “Jay” and his struggles with drug addiction. 

Mewes’ film career began in the mid-1990s with “Clerks,” the low-budget black-and-white film about the trials of a pair of store clerks in New Jersey. “Clerks” sparked a film career for Smith, who went on to make “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” “Red State” and several other films.

In many of Smith’s films, Mewes plays Jay while Smith plays his best friend Silent Bob.

“I went back to work roofing after ‘Clerks’ and didn’t think anything about it,” Mewes said. “And then ‘Mallrats’ was sort of when I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I could do this.’ Because I did another movie—I played Jay and in another movie I played a different character. So, I thought, that’s when I sort of thought, ‘Wow, this is something I can do and hopefully I can continue to act because this is fun and this is awesome.’ But I didn’t think I’d still be talking about Jay.”

But off camera, Mewes battled with drug addiction for many years.

He’s been sober for more than three years.

His latest, “Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” and other projects with Smith—including the tour that brings them to Louisville—is in part an effort to help him stay that way, he said. 

“I got surgery—I got kidney stones—and they gave me pain medicine,” Mewes said. “I thought I’d be able to handle it because it’d been almost five years. And I didn’t handle it.

“Next thing you know it’s a year later and I was really bad again. He’s like, ‘I don’t get it—what happened?’ And I told him that I wasn’t accountable to anybody, I wasn’t going to meetings, I wasn’t talking about it. So, when I had about four months sober, Kevin’s like, ‘Dude, I think we’ll start doing a podcast and you can talk about it. And, I think if you talk about it and get everything out there on Front Street, one, you’ll be accountable to everyone who listens but also you won’t forget that, ‘Hey man, this is funny now that I set my couch on fire and I was peeing in a bucket and I had to put the fire out with the piss bucket.’ It’s something I can laugh at now, but I don’t ever want to be in that situation again.”

He adds that it’s not a struggle to keep a real-life sobriety while being so closely associated with a film character so closely associated with marijuana.

The “Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie” showing on Wednesday evening is part of Louisville’s Fandom Fest, a convention focused on films, television, comics and other pop-culture of the Comic-Con variety. Smith is also scheduled to appear. (Ticket information is here.)

And for the Jay & Silent Bob super-fans, Mewes said he and Smith are hopeful they’ll be able to revisit the characters again for “Clerks III.”

Here’s a long version of the interview with Mewes:

Fandom Fest events will be held at the Galt House and the Kentucky International Convention Center. “Star Trek” star William Shatner, Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee and cast members from TV shows such as “The Walking Dead” are scheduled to appear. Here are more details.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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