Kevin Smith says that the plot of “Clerks 3” will revolve around the main character Randal recovering from a heart attack, a story that’s inspired by the director’s own comeback after a severe heart attack that nearly killed him back in 2018.
Smith shared the plot details exclusively with TheWrap while promoting his new movie “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” and after announcing last week that he is working on a new “Clerks 3” script.
The director says “Clerks 3” will begin with cynical video store-turned fast food cashier Randal (Jeff Anderson) suffering a heart attack and having something of a mid-life crisis after his near death experience. What he and his buddy Dante (Brian O’Halloran) do from there might be the most meta and personal twist Smith has come up with yet.
“Randal has a heart attack, decides that he came so close to death, and his life has meant nothing, there’s nobody to memorialize him, he has no family or anything like that,” Smith said. “And in the recovery, while under fentanyl, he comes to the conclusion at mid-life, having almost died, having worked in a movie store his whole life and watched other people’s movies, he tells Dante, I think we need to make a movie. So Dante and Randal make ‘Clerks.’ That’s the story of ‘Clerks 3.'”
Smith describes the story as the closest one yet to his own biography, with Dante and Randal figuring out how turn the people and stories in their lives into characters. They’ll even be forced to film, as Smith did, in black and white, and Smith intends for the movie-within-a-movie scenes in “Clerks 3” to also be in black and white.
“I’m going to bring my boys right back to where they brought me. I’m writing it, it writes itself because I f—ing lived it 25 years ago,” Smith said. “It’s just warm and f—ing wonderful. They’re figuring it out the same way I figured it out, but I have the benefit of being able to cherry pick all my favorite stories and moments of making ‘Clerks’ and putting it right back into their hands.”
For instance, Smith said he had the joy of writing a character based on his real life friend Jason Mewes and teaching him how to perform it. The new film will also feature a scene in which Randal and Dante are writing a character based on the Jay that they know always hanging around outside their stores.
“I get to do that same f—ing movie and scene in the movie,” Smith said. “I get to relive everything and put it into the hands of Dante and Randal. So it’s funny and poignant, but it’s more funny than anything else.”
Smith reiterated that this idea is different from his previous iteration of “Clerks 3,” which he and a cast of friends performed in a live read in New Jersey this August. That version also lacked the involvement of Jeff Anderson, who had become estranged from Smith in recent years. But Smith says the two have patched things up, and the new version of the film will have a massive shift in tone from the “doom and gloom” of the original screenplay.
“That was a movie that was written by a guy who was obsessed with middle-aged and dying, and it was all about death. And that was before I almost died. Then I almost died, and now I don’t really want to talk about that s—. I’ve been too close. Now I just want to do life affirming things. The tone is going to shift completely,” Smith said. “I owe those guys, those characters, Dante and Randal, a lot more than the kind of doom and gloom I was about to put them through. I loved that script, and I loved reading it, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house for the last 15 pages, the last 15 minutes of that entire read.”
The original “Clerks” was based on Smith’s life in his 20s, the sequel was about his 30s, and while the third film was meant to be about middle age to death, reading it live made him realize he needed to go in a different direction.
“It’s a f—ing tearjerker. It’s like the ‘King Lear’ of ‘Clerks’ movies. It’s really unbelievably moving and sad, but it’s not what I want to do with those guys for this,” Smith said. “You would’ve seen the old ‘Clerks 3’ and been like, did the guy who made ‘Clerks’ forget that ‘Clerks’ was a comedy?”
Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot” opens in theaters via Fathom Events on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 and will be followed by a 62-city road tour. Watch a clip of TheWrap’s interview with Smith sharing the plot for “Clerks 3” above.