"I liked the idea of doing something about porn, but mainstream porn had been done and done very well by Paul Thomas Anderson in Boogie Nights. So no point in doing that. I'm not trying to go in there and throw my d*ck down and be all like, 'I'm better than Paul Thomas Anderson.' We all know I'm not." -- Kevin Smith
Last month, I traveled to Red Bank, New Jersey and enjoyed a very cool lunch with a very cool dude by the name of Kevin Smith. While we scarfed down some tasty Italian food, I recorded roughly an hour and a half of our conversation -- all of which would be way too much to read in one post. Thus, I've decided to break some stuff up into sections and post them separately, then I'll be back with much more in the coming days leading up to the October 31st release of the pretty hilarious Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Here, Smith talks about the origins of Zack and Miri, who made up his original cast, how Seth Rogen became involved and why he decided to shoot it in Pittsburgh, of all places.
On the Original Idea and Original Cast
"The idea -- and different permutation's of it -- had been germinating since the end of Chasing Amy. The end of Chasing Amy we wanted to make this movie called Name that dealt with the porn industry, peripherally, as one of the main characters has kind of gone off to work in porn and then returned home years later. And I wanted to do it with Joey [Lauren Adams], Jason [Lee] and Ben [Affleck]. Then, after Chasing Amy, me and Joey broke up, so suddenly I didn't know whether I wanted to work with Joey Adams right away and then also we got the opportunity to move forward on Dogma. So I was like, f*ck it, let's do this.
On Making a Film About Porn That Doesn't Step on Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights
And then after that things just kept leading to other things, and Name kept being pushed to the back burner -- and it also kept taking different shapes. I liked the idea of doing something about porn, but mainstream porn had been done and done very well by Paul Thomas Anderson in Boogie Nights. So no point in doing that. I'm not trying to go in there and throw my d*ck down and be all like, 'I'm better than Paul Thomas Anderson.' We all know I'm not. So I'm not going to go near the area he defined really, really well. Then I started thinking about DIY porn, because the internet by that time had gotten bigger and bigger in terms of people just throwing up takes of themselves f**king. Not even trying to earn off them; just trying to be exhibitionists.
On the Difference Between F**king and Making Love
So I started thinking about that and friends doing it -- and one of my favorite topics of discussion with friends is the difference between f**king and making love. Like the people who can just f*ck and move on, and the people like me who, like, once you f*ck somebody, you want to marry them. I've never had a one night stand in my life. First time I came to it, I wound up marrying the chick so it doesn't count. [Jason] Mewes, on the other hand, has f**ked more people than I will ever meet in my entire life. And whenever I talk to him about it, I don't get it -- he's like a one-timer; he hits it and quits it. I don't get it -- if you find a woman goodly enough to f*ck you, why wouldn't you call her the next day and try to do that again? And his view is, 'In your world, there's always someone goodly enough to f*ck. In my world, there's always someone else waiting to get plugged.' And I'm like, wow, what must that be like. It's a subject I've always been interested in and I wanted to bring it up in the movie -- how you have these two people who just want to f*ck and can't do it. And, I don't know, that to me is kind of interesting.
On Seth Rogen Becoming Affleck Version 2.0
Seth was the final crucial element, because I didn't see 40 Year Old Virgin in theaters because we were making Clerks II at the time. But after we were done shooting -- I think I was cutting at the time -- I bought the DVD and watched it and I f**king died because I thought Seth Rogen was hilarious. And I knew him from Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks, but let's be honest -- he's way different in 40 Year Old Virgin. It's then that he started crystallizing into the Seth Rogen we all know and love.
And so I see him in that movie, and I'm like dammit, this guy sounds just like one of my characters. He might be the perfect guy to work with. So I thought, look, he's a supporting character in this movie, I can write him a lead, he can break huge, he can become, like, Affleck version two for me and I can keep working with that motherf**ker over and over again. And I finish the script about two weeks before Knocked Up comes out. And I see him on billboards all around Los Angeles, and I'm like this dude isn't about to break, this dude already broke. He is f**king famous and Judd Apatow is a much smarter man than I am.
But I wrote him this email asking if he wanted to read my script for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and, no joke, five minutes after I sent it the dude wrote back saying that when he came to Los Angeles, his agent asked him what he wanted to do and that was to star in a Kevin Smith movie. Please send me your script. So I got him the script, Knocked Up opens and suddenly this dude is huge, and I'm like he is never gonna say yes. But ultimately he said yes, he was into it.
On Going From New Jersey to Minnesota to Pittsburgh
The first draft was written for St. Cloud Minnesota, because I had done a college gig at St. Cloud and it was the coldest weather I'd ever been in. So I felt like this would be the last place in the world anyone would think to make a porno, so I'm gonna set it here. Before I took a shot at the second draft, we were doing budgets and Minnesota doesn't offer great tax incentives. In this business, every studio wants to send you wherever they're gonna get their big fat tax rebate, so they said, look, you can go to Connecticut where the rebate is great -- but I felt it was too close to New York and metropolitan; I could totally see someone making porn in Connecticut. Also Connecticut is Harvey's [Weinstein] backyard, and I felt it would be good to be far away because you don't want the dude rolling by set every day telling me we're f**king it up.
One of the other places we looked at was Pittsburgh. We had shot Dogma there, it was a great experience -- there was a nice crew base that works there -- and having been in Pittsburgh for months at a time, particularly in the winter, I was like, alright, this is definitely one of the top ten least places on the planet where someone would ever think about making a porno. So the second draft I rewrote for Pittsburgh and specifically Monroe.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno is due in theaters on October 31st.
More from Kevin Smith:
Kevin Smith on Judd Apatow
Kevin Smith on the Alternate Title for Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Kevin Smith on Financing and Casting Red State