Silent Bob High
JIM SLOTEK, SUN MEDIA
TORONTO — It’ll be a clash of pop cultures next week as indie movie cult figures Jay and Silent Bob enrol at Degrassi High. “It’s like When Worlds Collide, y’know? I’m a big fan of things like when Spider-Man and Daredevil meet. I go ape—-,” said director Kevin Smith (Clerks), who is finally getting his chance to take part in the cult series he idolizes by starring in a three-episode arc on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
In a hilarious and profane press conference yesterday with past and present Degrassi cast and show creator Linda Schuyler, Smith confirmed that he and pal Jason Mewes (a.k.a. “Jay” from Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) will start filming their parts next week.
The episodes, which will air early next year, have Kevin Smith playing himself directing the next Jay and Silent Bob movie, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh? In the fictional film, the slacker duo comes to Toronto because they need to get a high school diploma and no school in America will take them. Director Smith is interviewed by TV host Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), who points him to her alma mater Degrassi for location shoots.
Smitten, he begins pursuing her and attempts to get her to dump boyfriend Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni).
“I tread lightly on this subject, because it gets me in trouble with my wife,” he says. “In this version, everything about me is roughly the same – I’m Kevin Smith and I’ve made the same movies, but I never got married and I don’t have a kid.”
Smith, in fact, has a long-standing crush on the character, dating back to when he named the lead female character in Clerks Caitlin. “When I was working at the Quick Stop (in New Jersey), they used to run Degrassi Sunday morning. The first time I watched it I was like ‘Oh my God, this is insanely melodramatic!’ And by the end of the episode, I was weeping.
“I introduced it to Jason Mewes and we’d work toward the 11 o’clock hour, then we’d watch it and talk about it – not in the ‘Let’s do the discussion guide’ way, but ‘Who would you (have sex with) on that show?’ For me it was Caitlin Ryan, and Mewes was, like, Joey Jeremiah.”
Smith had his own version of how he agreed to appear on the show. “My wife and I met Linda and (her husband and producing partner) Stephen at a key party in Vancouver. After some awkward pillow talk, I said, ‘So you’re involved in a Canadian melodrama?’ And she said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘I’d love to do that kind of thing. My last movie (Jersey Girl) s—tanked in the States, so I’m looking for work anyway.’ ”
In fact, Smith had approached Schuyler looking to either direct or write for the show and was told it was “100% Canadian” and he wasn’t allowed. “I’ve been turned down a lot of times, but that was the best excuse I’ve ever heard. ‘We’re 100% Canadian.’ What they really meant was, ‘You’ve got the reverse Midas touch and we don’t want your loser stank on our program.’ ”
Of the new Degrassi series (on the U.S.-based N Channel), he says, “I was one of those who say ‘Don’t f— with perfection, don’t go back to the well’ – though I built my career going back to the well.” (He starts filming Passion of the Clerks for real in January).
“But you get two episodes in and it’s great. They’ve taken the best characters from the other show and updated it. And I didn’t know whether I’d like the new kids, ’cause I’m an old man. But I did – in a real creepy way.”