I got a chance to sit down with the Clerks boys, Jeff and Brian (or Randal and Dante as you may know them) and we had a lot of fun. They're very likeable guys and it's easy to see why that translates to the Clerks universe. They talked about Kevin Smith's sexuality, why one of them didn't want to do the film initially, and the possibility of more Clerks Animation and, GASP, the chances of a Clerks III? Believe it or not the answer was more hopeful than you'd think. So read on!
The first Clerks had a budget of 20k, this one was closer to $5m...
Brian O'Halloran (Dante): In Hollywood that's pretty much the same. It wasn't like we had wads of cash lying around the set. Kevin wanted to get it lower but they would only do a low of five million. The big difference is this time I was put up in a hotel, got a per diem, didn't have to work a 9 to 5.
Jeff Anderson (Randal): It was nice to not have to carry the equipment before and after, there were actually people around.
What were you guys doing before Clerks II?
Brian: I worked a regular job as a sales manager for a barware manufacturer but I was still pursuing an acting career.
Jeff: I wrote and directed a movie called Now you Know, it will go straight to video as Clerks II goes to the theater; it's distributed by the Weinstein Company. It stars Rashida Jones and Jeremy Sisto, it's a funny little movie.
Why did you guys get bigger stars like Rosario Dawson?
Jeff: When we first started talking to Kevin one of the things he was set on was having people with no name recognition. Harvey Weinstein insisted on an A list girl who could get on the talk shows because Brian and I can't get on them.
Were you guys always on board with doing this one?
Brian: When he came to me we had just finished doing the ten year DVD so when we were throwing down the dialogue he approached me and as a working actor I was like sure, I can use more work. I talked a couple of days later to Jeff and he had some reservations.
Jeff: I just wasn't interested in doing it. I didn't think Clerks was a movie that was screaming for a sequel. It just seemed to me that there was more of a chance we'd screw it up than actually improve it. It took a bit of convincing for me to get on board. I was more worried for Kevin; I wasn't worried for my career. After Jersey Girl I wondered if he was just trying to fall back on this, but his enthusiasm and reading the script changed my mind. I'm happy with the way it came out.
Do you guys get recognized all the time?
Jeff: It doesn't happen that often for me. Sometimes people will recognize my voice and say "I know you," but that's about it. (motions towards Brian) I think he always gets recognized.
Brian: It never happens at the right times, like when I need a bank loan, or I'm getting pulled over, or when I need a break on my hookers. It never kicks in at the right time. You know I do theater so there is a lot of time I'm clean shaven, so it's only when I'm sporting this Dick Van Dyke facial hair.
Have you guys set the bar for bestiality with this film?
Brian: There's that line that can still be broken. We got away with an R; someone's going to push NC-17. I'm sure there are three different versions for Europe.
Jeff: I don't know how many more movies want to explore that...
Brian: Anything else you're going to have to watch Animal Planet.
What about the gay dynamic to the Clerks world, the closeness of the characters?
Jeff: Somewhere around when Clerks came out it was always talked about that my character was gay. He never seems to have any girls. But that's Kevin. His characters always have this latent homosexuality. It's something within Kevin, he's apparently Gay.
Brian: With the success of Brokeback we just kind of wanted to jump on that bandwagon.
How far are you from the Dante and Randal characters?
Brian: I'm kind of people pleasing. I do enjoy conflict as well, just ask Jeff, the other day at the airport they lost his luggage.
Jeff: United Airlines. Please put that in the article.
Brian: They purposely took his bag off the plane so that some other mooks could get on. So, anyway, I'm indecisive but not so much that it paralyzes me like Dante.
Jeff: Randal is fairly close to me. I think I've grown more like him over the years because people seem to expect it from me.
On set, did you take any credit for Jay's rehab since Kevin had made the promise he could play Jay again in a movie if he got clean?
Brian: No, that's all Jay on his own. Yeah, Kevin said to him he wasn't going to put him into another film unless he got clean but Jay's going on like three years. My hat's off to him, I've seen him at his lowest points, but now it's a totally different Jay, a much funnier Jay.
Have you been surprised at how positive the reaction has been at festivals like Cannes?
Brian: It was a surreal moment, the eight minute standing ovation, but Kevin has this whole Catholic guilt thing going of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We got an R rating on our first time through too, we were kind of insulted actually, we were like C'mon, I'm offended by this! Then we got into Cannes and the reaction we got, and the reaction we're getting from the press screenings it's still kind of weird.
Will we see a Clerks III or is this the definitive ending?
Brian: Grumpier Old Clerks?
Jeff: I told them if Randal gets five or six chicks to make out with and a boatload of money we'll do ten or twelve of them.
Brian: That's definitely the next envelope we push, the live orgy scene with Randal.
Jeff: I think we can safely say Randal and Dante in live action form are probably over. Animated stuff? Bring it on, but I'd say the live action is probably done.
Brian: It all depends on Kevin; he's the one who makes all those decisions.