Kevin Smith says his original Clerks III script was about 'dealing with grief': 'Mercifully we never made it'

·3 min read

It is no secret (stash) that Kevin Smith has been trying to get Clerks III off the ground for a while. At the Los Angeles premiere for the third film in the comedy franchise Wednesday night, the writer-director revealed details about an early version of the script which was wildly different from the finished product.

"It opened on the evening of Hurricane Sandy," Smith told The Hollywood Reporter. "Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) were locked in a jail... There's an interrogation scene and somebody comes in and says, 'We gotta get 'em out and put them in cells because it's coming.' And [the guys] are like, 'What's coming?' 'They're calling it Sandy.' They were locked in a cell all night long and they get out in the morning to find that the Quick Stop was destroyed by a flood."

Kevin Smith attends the "Clerks III" Premiere at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters at TCL Chinese Theatre on August 24, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Kevin Smith attends the "Clerks III" Premiere at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters at TCL Chinese Theatre on August 24, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage Kevin Smith

Smith went on to explain that in the original script this disaster prompted Randal to head to a cinema to wait for a screening of Ranger Danger, a real-life unrealized Smith project that had been referenced in Clerks II. When Randal continued to wait for the movie — even though it was not set to be released for a year — things got weird.

"A village sprouts up in the parking lot of the movie theater," said Smith. "Randal builds a lean-to version of Quick Stop, like a bodega-shanty version, and becomes the unofficial mayor of this town. It was a movie about dealing with grief."

Smith described the script as "so far-flung from Clerks," adding, "Mercifully we never made it."

The director set about completely overhauling the script for Clerks III after suffering a heart attack in February 2018. In the finished film, Randal suffers a similar near-fatal cardiac event and, concerned that he has wasted his time on Earth, sets about making a Clerks-style film about his life at the Quick Stop.

"I wanted to tell my heart attack story with my characters," the filmmaker told EW earlier this year. "So Randal, the video-store guy, has a massive heart attack. While he recovers, he laments that he's wasted his life watching movies and never thought about making one himself. Randal and Dante essentially make their own version of Clerks, a black-and-white movie called Inconvenience. It's incredibly meta. The snake really eats its own tail, swallows itself, and s---s itself out, and that is Clerks III. You can put that on the poster!"

Smith also told EW that he salvaged some of the material from the movie's earlier iteration and included it in the finished film.

"That movie was a hardcore tear-jerker, it was very very dark," said the director. "[But] all the funny stuff that could be salvaged to the new version ported right over. So, kites, flying a kite, plays a big role in our movie and that started even back in the other version."

Clerks III will play in select cinemas Sept. 13-18. Smith will tour with the film in select markets in September and October.

Watch the trailer for Clerks III below.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content: