From left to right, Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Kevin Smith, Austin Zajur and Trevor Fehrman make "Clerks" in "Clerks III." Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Actors Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes said Clerks III, in theaters Tuesday, required them to study the original 1994 film in between takes.
The plot of the sequel has Dante (O'Halloran) and Randal (Anderson) make a movie about their life as clerks, with help from Jay (Mewes) and Silent Bob (writer-director Kevin Smith).
"We would pull up the old scenes on an iPad and mirror it with what we were doing," Anderson told UPI in a Zoom interview.
Clerks launched Smith's movie career. He made the comedy in the New Jersey Quick Stop Groceries, in which he had worked as a clerk.
The cast, as well as Smith, have aged 28 years since Clerks. It wasn't as easy to recreate scenes from Clerks in 2022, O'Halloran said.
O'Halloran said he wore a replica of the sweater he wore in Clerks for some Clerks III scenes. The actual sweater was no longer available.
"We couldn't find it on the Internet to replicate it at all," O'Halloran said. "They had an actual woman who knits by hand knit the actual sweater again."
Jay and Silent Bob are the local drug dealers who hang out outside Quick Stop. In Clerks III they have taken over the old video store next door and turned it into a marijuana dispensary.
Mewes recreated Jay's dancing in Clerks III. However, the dance moves he freestyled in 1994 became strict choreography he had to follow.
"I felt like my hips weren't moving as well," Mewes said. "So I was watching myself on playback, and I'm like, 'I feel like I'm not as limber.'"
The trio reprised their roles in Clerks II in 2006. Mewes and Smith also reprised their roles as Jay and Silent Bob in other Smith movies.
Several iterations of Clerks sequels didn't happen. Smith's first incarnation of Clerks II evolved into 2001's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Smith wrote one version of Clerks III that was never made. After Smith survived a heart attack in 2018, he rewrote his script.
Now, Clerks III is motivated by Randal having a heart attack. When he survives, he is inspired to make a movie about his life behind the counter.
Given the theme of mortality, Clerks III takes a more dramatic approach to the clerk characters as they contemplate their lives. Anderson and O'Halloran said Smith's previous version was even darker.
"It didn't feel like it belonged in a Clerks world," Anderson said. "I think even Kevin got that to a degree because his demeanor in delivering the new script was so much more excited."
Anderson and O'Halloran performed two readings of the original Clerks III script for charity. However, phones were not allowed in those events and attendees have honored Smith's request to keep further details of that script secret.
Before Clerks III, Smith made a sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. That 2019 movie, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, centered on Jay and Bob as Jay found out he had a long-lost daughter (Harley Quinn Smith).
Clerks III returns Jay and Bob to the supporting roles with which they began. For Mewes, it was a relief to let O'Halloran and Anderson handle the lengthier dialogue.
"[In Reboot] I'm in every scene and memorizing all the dialogue," Mewes said. "It's not just memorizing dialogue. It's like tongue twisters."
Even before Clerks III, Smith was passing the torch to another generation.Harley Quinn starred in his film. Yoga Hosers.
In Yoga Hosers, two Canadian convenience store clerks (Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp) battle Nazi bratwurst monsters. O'Halloran said he appreciated hearing Smith's daughter say his trademark line, "I'm not even supposed to be here today."
"It's awesome to see Harley carry on that type of feeling," O'Halloran said. "It was nice to get the people who are now that generation to get ahold of something really iconic."
Clerks III is in theaters this week through Fathom Events. Smith will tour with the film in select cities and host Q&As following screenings.