Silent Bob loves CTV’s Degrassi: Kevin Smith plans to act in 3-episode arc
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith in a scene from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. (AP)
TORONTO (CP) – Jay and Silent Bob are coming to Canada.
And they plan to visit Degrassi high school. Indie American filmmaker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Jersey Girl) has made no secret over the years of his love of the long-running Canadian TV franchise, and has even included references to it in his films featuring those slacker/stoner characters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith).
After his offers to direct and/or write for the show were declined (sorry, he was told, Degrassi is 100 per cent Canadian content and that would jeopardize their Telefilm funding) it was agreed he could act in three episodes. So he’ll be playing a dual role: a visiting director and the mute Silent Bob character he plays in his films.
“It’s the easiest job in the world because I have to play myself but I play a fictionalized version of myself where I’ve been successful,” Smith quipped Wednesday during a photo-op visit to the north-end Toronto studios of Epitome Productions where Degrassi is shot. “I pretend I’m a little different version of me.”
The droll director posed with cast members and happily accepted an “official” Degrassi High lettered cardigan sweater, which he promised to wear to bed with his wife.
The script’s pretext for the Degrassi visit is that Smith is shooting a new film, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, in which the characters require a high-school diploma but no school in the U.S. will accept them, so they come to Toronto.
“I’m just angry that I didn’t think of that first and shoot that picture,” he said. “So we actually may wind up making that movie one day because I’m incredibly charmed by that notion.”
Admitting to a long-standing crush on the show’s character Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), Smith revealed that the onscreen version of himself is single and that he might be pursuing her in the storyline – something, he conceded, that he hasn’t yet cleared with his real-life spouse. But he revealed that Mewes would be joining him on the episodes, adding that he might also try to get actor-friend Ben Affleck to show up.
“Affleck, honestly, could use the work right now. What better way to reboot your career than starring in a Canadian melodrama?”
Smith is planning to start another real Jay and Silent Bob film – a Clerks sequel – early next year, about the time his Degrassi arc will be airing on CTV.
As to whether the Degrassi experience will become part of the film series, he said that was an interesting question.
“That’d be awesome. I might throw in a reference, like, ‘We just got back from Canada. Here are our degrees.’ ”
The Jersey boy readily heaped praise on Degrassi, recalling how, as far back as 1990, he was working in a convenience store on Sunday mornings and, in order to maintain his sanity, would catch episodes of the Degrassi High and Junior High forerunners which were then airing on PBS.
“So I just kind of fell in love with the show,” he said, adding that growing up was never depicted so accurately on television.
“I loved the story arcs and I also love challenging material . . . such a great alternative to most of the crap that’s on American TV.”
The new Degrassi is now the flagship show on Noggin, a teen-oriented cable channel in the U.S., and cast members have become so well known they were mobbed during a recent cross-country publicity tour of U.S. malls.
Smith, 34, said Degrassi makes him feel young again because it takes him back to his own high school days.
“And these kids are insanely good actors,” he added. “This is just really the topping on the desert, it takes the cake, there’s nothing left.”
Actor-director Kevin Smith confirmed Wednesday that he will be playing a variation of himself on upcoming episodes of CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation. A longtime fan of the Canadian series, Smith has included references in several of his films:
-In his debut feature Clerks, in 1994, a character is named after Degrassi’s Caitlin Ryan.
-In 1997’s Chasing Amy, Jason Lee and Ben Affleck discuss their plans for the evening and Jason opts for pizza and watching Degrassi Junior High.
-In Mallrats, Shannen Doherty’s character wears a Degrassi jacket.
-In 2001, Smith was scheduled to do a Degrassi cameo, playing a love interest for Caitlin, but it was cancelled due to conflicting commitment