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The "Clerks 2" Interview: Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran  by Michael A. Smith
"Lady in the Water"  by Mike Smith
Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 30: "L.A. Confidential"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 331  (Vol. 7, No. 30). This edition is for the week of July 24--30, 2006.

The "Clerks 2" Interview:
Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran

By Michael A. Smith

Cast of "Clerks 2"

In 1994, while managing a movie theatre in Baltimore, one of my employees told me about an upcoming film he wanted to see called "Clerks." A few weeks later, a group of us drove to Washington D.C. (the film didn't open in Baltimore) to see it and came away impressed. Upon returning to Baltimore I begged my home office to book "Clerks" at my theatre. They weren't as enthusiastic as I was but, tired of my phone calls, finally gave me a print. It played for 13 weeks. One of the highlights of my theatre days is seeing an all digital preview of "Dogma" in New Jersey and then spending time with Kevin Smith at his comic book store the next day.

This week, writer/director Kevin Smith has come full circle with "Clerks II," again starring Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks and Jeff Anderson as Randall Graves. Now in their thirties and working at the local fast food joint, Moobys, Dante and Randall continue to serve the public the only way they know how. Currently on a whirlwind tour, O'Halloran and Anderson sat down with me at the Screenland Theatre in Kansas City and I found them to be very much like the characters they play: O'Halloran very thoughtful in his answers while Anderson is very quick, and often irreverent, with his.

L-to-R, Michael Smith, Kevin Smith (no relation), and Ben Ryland visit Kevin Smith's comic shop in New Jersey.
Mike Smith: Welcome to Kansas City.

Jeff Anderson: Is that where we are? (laughs) I'll take your word for it.

MS: "Clerks II" has often been hinted at in the past. Why did it take 10 years?

JA: They had to negotiate my contract!

Brian O'Halloran: The first film really wasn't the type of film that sequels are made for. You really couldn't pick up the story three, four or even five years later. You had to give it some time and give the characters time to grow. Kevin also had other stories to tell and he would sprinkle our characters in those stories occasionally.

MS: Are any of the experiences in the film based on anything that has happened with you two the past decade?

JA: Just the donkey shows!

BO: The only fast food experience I had was working at a chicken place for a few years in high school.

MS: Did you have good customer relations?

BO: Yes...........No. I would throw in the occasional, "**** you very much" when they got their food and were walking out the door.

MS: Since you mentioned the donkey show........

BO: (pointing) HE mentioned the donkey show.

MS:...what was your reaction when you read about it in the script, or even when you were on set?

JA: There were two different reactions. The first was, "I can't wait to see this." On the set it made for one of the funniest days. We were shooting at an old Burger King that we had turned into Moobys. They painted it pink, yellow and orange. People didn't miss it on the street, put it that way. We filmed on one of the busier streets so when we were filming the police would close off the street. But when we were filming interiors the street would be open and cars could come by. And for the last few days we had the pen out in the parking lot with the donkey in there and I could just imagine what the drivers were thinking watching us carry the leather-clad donkey into this food establishment. Lots of car accidents. So that made it kind of fun.

MS: How long did it take you to shoot the donkey stuff?

JA: It was pretty quick, actually. I think we did it in two nights. There was a lot of cleaning up in between shots. Donkeys like to mark their territory.

MS: With the exception of Jeff's film, "Now You Know" (which Anderson wrote and directed) you two have mostly only worked with Kevin. Is there a reason you pretty much stayed close to home?

BO: I came from a theatre background and I stuck there. I have done some other independent films. I like working in smaller projects. I have been out to L A from time to time, about twice a year. When "Clerks" first came out it didn't catch on immediately and the people I talked to then said to come back when I had a few more credits. But I'm getting regular work all the time in New York.

JA: To answer your question, I can't act or audition. I've been concentrating on writing and have done a lot of voice over work. The Weinstein company is finally going to put out "Now You Know" alongside "Clerks II," going straight to DVD. And I've just finished another script which I hope to direct.

BO: I'm hoping to start my own production company and also direct and produce. I've done both in theater and the logical step is to move on.

MS: With "Clerks" and the other films, how often are you guys recognized?

BO: If I'm wearing the Van Dyke and goatee, I get recognized probably three or four times a week, never at the right time. Not when I'm dealing with the police or a loan officer or trying to get a discount rate on hookers (laughs). It is helpful when I'm meeting people and they're familiar with me in a friendly way, not in a jackass way.

JA: That's me. Actually, I rarely get recognized from the movie. I just take off the backwards baseball cap and I'm a free man.

BO: He's really the Clark Kent of the film.

MS: Are you ok with not being recognized a lot?

JA: I'm actually very ok with that. That's one reason I'm glad we didn't rush into "Clerks II." I get very nice letters from time to time and occasionally I'll run into somebody that enjoyed my work. It's never been a bad thing and it's never interfered with anything. I'm hoping the hat throws them off again.

MS: When the film opens, will it have an "R" rating or no rating at all? (the film was not yet rated when I saw it but it has been given an "R" rating)

JA: When we were shooting we were worried. The original "Clerks" was the first film originally given an NC 17 rating strictly due to language. And the studio hired Alan Dershowitz to go in and fight for it and it was reluctantly given an "R." For this one we always thought it would be NC 17 and even on the set we knew that Kevin wouldn't make changes to anything. So Kevin handed it in to the MPAA and expected an NC 17, thinking he could get some press that it was NC 17 and run with that. Then he got a phone call that it drew and "R" and we were all perplexed. And kind of disappointed. The cut that Kevin handed in was the cut that got the "R" so there was nothing edited out.

MS: Pretty surprising, what with the girl and the donkey.

JA: I know. Kevin said, "we should have gone further!"

MS: "Clerks" started out as a live action feature, then became an animated feature. Talk about the changes in your portrayals from film to animation. And then finally coming back to film.

BO: Well we didn't come back by choice. We would love to be going into our 6th year of doing the cartoon. That was probably the most fun we ever had, doing the cartoon. Unfortunately the highest bidder was ABC, and we didn't know the politics behind the scenes. It was pretty much bought just to get buried...it was canceled before it even aired. But contractually they were obligated to air at least two episodes. But it has gained such a following that Kevin will be doing an uncensored animated film that will probably go straight to DVD. Depending on the reaction it might get a theatrical release. That's something down the road, 2008, 2009ish. And now coming back to "Clerks II." Our characters have been sprinkled in other things. We did a short (a flying car skit) for Jay Leno a couple of years back. It's always nice coming back. Jeff lives in L A and I've lived in New Jersey and we've only gotten to see each other over the years because of these Kevin Smith events. The chemistry, as so many people tell us we have, is something we can't explain. It just happens. So coming back is always fun. And it's a testament to Kevin's writing that he can put together some dialogue and bing, bing, bing...

JA: Doing the cartoon definitely screwed with the characters a little bit. When we first went in to do the cartoon and I sat down to do Randall I asked, "do you want this be Randall? It's kind of boring and flat." For animation you have to take it up a little bit. The voice went up a little, the hands gotta go. In the animated series everything is heightened and bigger and you have to change your inflections. When we did the flying car bit for the Jay Leno short, we went in and it was the first time we had done the live action Randall and Dante in a while. I did my part as "movie" Randall and when they went to do Brian's stuff, I amped it up to "cartoon" Randall and I could see Kevin in the corner and his eyebrows were going crazy. So he stopped the shoot and told me "cartoon" Randall. So I was a little more animated then Randall from the movie. So when we did this movie I'd ask him which Randall he wanted and I could hear him yelling from the monitor, "More cartoon. More cartoon."

BO: And he invented a new working term. "Cartoon Randall!" "Cartoon Brian!"

MS: Anything else on the animated movie?

BO: Not much really. I only know that Kevin has two other projects he wants to do first, so that is why I think it's going to be 2008, 2009.

MS: Did the experience with the animated series sour you on television?

BO: No, not really. UPN had offered Kevin a guaranteed, on the air, full season. And with the ratings UPN was getting at the time, we would have been the ratings gods! But ABC felt that a property that Disney owned, since Disney owned Miramax, should be kept in the family. They didn't want one of their properties making another channel successful.

MS: What's it like to have an action figure of yourselves?

BO: That's funny, you brought up two things I always wanted to do. Number one, I always wanted to be in a cartoon. And number two, I always wanted a "Star Wars" figure, but this is the next best thing. It's kind of weird in a sense.

JA: I didn't even know about them. My niece called me up and said, "Uncle Jeff, you're an action figure." And I was like, "no, you're uncle's not G I Joe." I actually just got one. I asked Kevin if he could get me one and he brought me one about six months ago. I was like, "One? There's not a lot of them around, huh?"

The "Clerks 2 Interview: Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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