Smith feels a compulsive need to win over an audience with the sheer tonnage of his verbiage; there were no short answers to my questions. Even though he’s now a 35-year-old father who lives in his pal Ben Affleck’s old house in L.A., Web surfers still have access to insanely intimate details of his life: One blog post this month touched upon his predilections for cunnilingus, anal sex, and picking his nose.
The question is whether the merch-buying boosters have too much sway over Smith. The potshots at Internet haters in Jay and Silent Bob have the aroma of a man who’s spent too much time on his own message board. Most indie filmmakers dream of breaking out. He tried to, then retreated to his cozy “View Askewniverse,” the shared world of Smith’s pre–Jersey Girl films (like Star Wars or Marvel comics, his movies have a strict continuity).
Smith says he was reluctant to make Clerks II, because he’d already decreed that Jay and Silent Bob would be the last film in the series. Why go back? “It felt like I had something to say about being in my thirties, and Clerks was me having something to say about being in my twenties.” He now plans for the Clerks films to bookend the series, but who knows how his next venture will be greeted? His films’ mythology isn’t about a galaxy far, far away—it’s about the town he grew up in, the register he worked. Smith’s life has changed unimaginably since Sundance ’94, but his fans are still looking for him at the Quick Stop.