ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Clerks III stars Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, who play Dante and Randal, respectively. The two discussed the long legacy of Clerks and the fan reception to the third film. Clerks III will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on December 6.
“After suffering a massive heart attack, Randal enlists friends and fellow clerks Dante, Elias, Jay, and Silent Bob to help him make a movie about life at the Quick Stop,” reads the film’s synopsis.
Tyler Treese: Dante’s going through a lot of grief in this film. We all go through loss, so it’s inherently relatable. but what about Dante’s journey here really resonated with you?
Brian O’Halloran: I’ve had loss in my own family. My father passed away when I was 15. I’ve had good friends pass away over the years. So the connection to family loss, I can relate to, but also the loss of an impending child is very sad. I’ve had friends whose wives have had miscarriages, which is a horrible thing. To lose not only Becky, in this case, and their potential daughter, Grace, when you delve into what really has hit Dante, who had hit the lottery, because, as it’s said in the second one, “look at you! You have two girls fighting over you, and you’re the hideous fucking chud.” So in a way, to portray that kind of feeling, I had to delve into some sort of memories of people who I’ve known and lost over the years.
Jeff, your character’s doing some soul-searching and reassesses his life after a heart attack; I know you were hesitant about doing Clerks II, let alone a third film. What about this storyline really convinced you that this was worth doing and was a great use of Randal?
Jeff Anderson: Prior to shooting the script that we shot, there was a previous script of it, a previous version of Clerks III, that didn’t get made. That script was a very disjointed script. It didn’t feel like it sort of belonged in the Clerks world. It was a very dark script. I’ve said when I read it, it sort of felt unsatisfying to me, and ultimately, I think the fans wouldn’t have been satisfied with it. The storyline is almost the same, without giving too much away.
When I originally agreed to do the new one, Kevin and I just got together and had a meeting, and Kevin’s enthusiasm for it was so infectious. It was hard not to get swept up into his enthusiasm for it and knowing that it was his story and going through the stuff that he really went through in his life … you could tell that it was a lot more personal to Kevin, and you could tell that he fought a lot harder for this script. I mean, fought me a lot harder for this script to do it. I would say it was Kevin’s enthusiasm that gave me a shove.
Brian, you share some really great scenes with Rosario Dawson who doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since Clerks II. How is it filming with her again?
O’Halloran: Yeah, she’s got that Benjamin Button disease. I think she’s getting younger as the years go on. She’s always amazing to work with. She was incredibly amazing to work with on the second one. Whenever you get someone of that talent playing opposite you, you cannot help but make sure you’re trying to put out the best product, so to speak, as you can do. Since she was so giving to me in these very emotionally tough scenes, I was very grateful to have that kind of recourse and rapport with her, that she’s awesome. It’s just so great.
She’s a cool person in general. We got to, obviously, hang out and do a lot more in the second movie. To have her come back — and we only had her for literally like a day and a half — and to do those four key scenes that we had together was great. It’s a shame that she couldn’t be a part of the rest of the cast and have interactions with Randal or interactions with Trevor [Fehrman] playing Elias or something, but what she did give us was absolutely pure gold. I was glad that I was able to connect with that.
The Quick Stop looks exactly the same. How is it going back to New Jersey to film again? That had to be surreal, as it’s like a time capsule. So much has changed, but that looks just like it did.
Anderson: The store itself has not changed a bit. The only thing that’s changed is they have a new counter that has a lot of pot paraphernalia. That’s the only thing that’s updated in that store. I really like the idea of wrapping this up back where it started. For me, when I reflect back on these movies, Clerks II feels almost like a Dante and Randal adventure film. They left the store and they went out into the world and had this own separate time in a whole separate world and everything else. Coming back to the store just felt right. It felt like … being back there, the store is the same. The feel of the store is the same and being there filming … I know there was a lot of times where I had those “pinch me” moments, like, “Oh my God, it’s 30 years later and here we are. My feet are still sticking to the floor in the Quick Stop.” So it was a little surreal.
This was such a perfect way to close out the Clerks series and it was emotional, watching as a fan. So how has it been seeing the fan reaction to Dante’s journey and Clerks finishing up?
O’Halloran: Yeah, it’s been wonderful. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, definitely. I got to see five or six of the live roadshow screenings of the film. I’ll be seeing four or five more of the cities in the coming weeks as well. Usually, every night after there’s a screening — like we just had two nights in Toronto — my social media starts blowing up with messages from the fans. Like, “oh my God, what a sad way to go,” and “oh my God, you guys did a great job,” and “give these guys all the awards!” Those kind of things.
It’s been very nice to see it. There are some people who — and every fan base has this — where [they say] “why would you do that? Oh my God, that’s such a horrible way to go,” blah, blah, blah. But it’s been really, really positive. I’d say at least a 96% positive response to what’s been going on. I’m glad that now the folks who couldn’t catch it in the theaters when it was out in the general release and the roadshow, have the opportunity with the digital release and the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release in December. Should be fun.
The Clerks fandom has been so passionate. What has it meant to you that they’ve been supporting you for almost 30 years and that this series has been so supported, that it’s been able to tell meaningful stories throughout three decades?
Anderson: That’s been the most amazing part of this whole journey. I just recently, in the past year, started doing the convention scene and it’s sort of my first time being out there and interacting with the fans. I just have to say that the love that you get from them is so incredibly heartwarming. You hear all these stories … a lot of military guys who are overseas [are] watching these movies, and they express how it helped them get through some really difficult situations and just difficult situations in life.
Like I said, it’s my first interaction. I don’t have social media or anything like that, so this was sort of my first interaction with people and it’s just incredible, the amount of love we get for it. I don’t think I’ve had one negative experience with a fan in 30 years. They’re probably all gonna line up now! But largely it’s been pretty positive and it is a very surreal thing. Sometimes you lay down at night and you reflect on it and you go, “gee whiz. I can’t believe this little crappy movie that we made so long ago still affects people.” It’s been an incredible journey.
This film has so many great cameos, especially during the audition scene. How was it watching all these great actors reading your iconic, “I’m not even supposed to be here today” line?
O’Halloran: It was one of the first things we shot in the filming process. We had gone to the original theater, the First Avenue Playhouse, where we actually did all audition for the original Clerks. We got a few people to come down to do that. The guys from Impractical Jokers came down that day and we had a few other. A few of the other ones, their schedules didn’t quite work out, so they had reshot those. They’d replicated that background in LA at a studio. We were able to get people like Ben Affleck and Fred Armisen and all the rest that you see that pop up in it … Danny Trejo and others. So what we got to see was a lot of the East Coast-based actors, which were the Impractical Jokers, Brian Quinn and Joe Gatto and all that. Sal Vulcano and all those guys, and James Murray. When seeing it, it was pretty funny. Then finally seeing it in the finished film, it was hilarious.
The meta aspect of the film is so much fun. What was the most difficult scene for you to recreate?
Anderson: Hmm, to recreate? I don’t know if it was difficult. I don’t know that there was a difficult scene to recreate. Probably the most difficult part of recreating the scenes is like, before we’d go shoot, you’d look at the original scene on an iPad and we’d run through the scene maybe to get the mannerisms and stuff. But it was really freaky to shoot the scenes and then to go back to the monitor and watch the scene and realize how much it really does look like the first scene, but for the fact that we’re now ancient.
It was sort of surreal, redoing those scenes. The whole process … I don’t know that you can get it across in words and make people understand it, just because we’ve lived this for so long. To go back … I don’t know that there’s another film that has gone back 30 years later and recreated the same film. So just the whole process of it and watching it play out. They custom-made the sweater for Dante that he wore in the first one. Just seeing Brian walk out of his trailer in that sweater, in his pants, in the Doc Martins, it was just mind-blowing. I felt like I was on mushrooms. Which isn’t a bad thing!
Halloran: Trying to replicate the independent contractor’s conversation with that actor Thomas [Burke]. Now that guy, Thomas, the actual actor from that scene, was there, still had the jacket, still had the hat from the very first film. We would stand there at the counter and, like Jeff said, they’d be looking at an iPad and then saying, “Brian, move a little bit further to the right. Okay, now tilt this way.” They’d look at the monitor side-by-side, and here’s modern Brian looking at 1993 camera Brian. It was just very freaky.
Trevor’s Elias is going through a lot in this film. How was it seeing him come to set each day with the most ridiculous look as it got more and more wild throughout the film?
O’Halloran: It started in the script when Kevin wrote the script, to see this change in the Elias character. All he wrote was, “Elias shows up in a heavy metal T-shirt.” That was it. Then Trevor took it from there and he’s like, “Oh, he should do more clothing. Like this is how he thinks worshiping Satan is about.” He said, “I want, at the end in the funeral scene, to have a cane and a cape.” And Kevin’s like, “Well, we’ve got to get you there somehow. We can’t just go from you having a metal t-shirt to you having a cane and cape.” Then this is the great genius of both Trevor, hair and makeup, and the costumer.
You had Allison Pearce, who was our costumer, Angie Johnson, who was our hair person, and then, of course, we had Sasha Grossman and Fiona Mifsud in our makeup department, really put in the work and have fun. They actually had a blast. So coming to the costumer saying, “What would’ve been four things that Trevor’s character changes into, we now have to do 15 to 20 things. Oh, and by the way, Blockchain — his sidekick — is going to have to duplicate these type of looks as well.” [We] put a lot on them, so big ups to the hair, makeup, and costume department for pulling off what Trevor just said,” I want a cane and a cape at the end.”
Anderson: I think Kevin’s pot use made him a little more agreeable than he probably should have been, letting Trevor run with some of those outfits. I’m surprised we didn’t go overschedule because there would literally be times that we would be on set, and Trevor would say, “I want to do this,” and we would all have to pause while they pulled it together. So Kevin was a little, maybe a skosh too agreeable to Trevor’s things, but it all worked out well in the end.