Talking shit behind the counters of retail stores can take you places; just ask Jeff Anderson. His role as the smart-ass, Star Wars savvy Randal in Kevin Smith’s Clerks has landed him the opportunity to talk shit behind a movie camera. His directorial debut is a romantic comedy entitled “Now You Know.” Whoever thought that Randal Graves had a soft side. We spoke with Jeff Anderson to see if we could uncover anything else we didn’t know about.
So, before we get into questions about “Now You Know,” I have to ask some “Randal” questions. How did you first meet Kevin and get the gig as Randal in Clerks?
I knew Kevin from high school. We graduated the same year. After high school, Kevin used to work in the video store from Clerks, which is just as dismal in real life as it is on film, therefore it was a great place to rent videos because nobody would go there. Kevin was an awesome video employee. He was the anti-Randal, never charged late fees and always had a recommendation for good flicks to rent. It was my coming to the video store, which eventually got me the role as Randal. He’d be pecking away at the script for Clerks while he worked and we would talk about it and when he was finally holding auditions, he invited me down to watch. I watched the auditions, which were less than stellar, then got up and did my own less than stellar audition. Somehow, Kevin saw something he liked in it and came to my house a few nights later and read me for Randal.
What was your impression of the Clerks script?
I thought the script was pretty damn funny when I read it. I couldn’t believe someone could write a script with so many fucking curses… sorry.
Did you ad lib a lot on the set of Clerks?
My biggest ad-lib was the ’wrangler-walk’. The script called for me to tap dance into the store… I’m no Sammy Davis; I didn’t think it’d fly.
There have to be some really cool things and some really annoying things about being stuck with being “Randal” for the rest of your life. Care to share any of those with us?
I think the coolest thing about being Randal is when I meet someone new and they get to know me as regular ol’ Jeff and at some point, they put it together and are like, “Wait a minute! You’re Randal!” They trip out for a minute or two. It’s kinda funny. The ladies REALLY like it… “Holy shit! I just kissed Randal! I didn’t think he liked chicks!”
Where did the inspiration for “Now You Know” come from?
Believe it or not, the inspiration came from the Matchbox 20 song called “Push”. It’s a song about taking someone for granted. I had experience on both sides of that coin and thought I’d be able to write a pretty believable story using that as a backdrop.
How did you go about writing the script?
I pretty much wrote it in my spare time. I never really said, “Okay, I’m going to write a movie now.” I was just kinda screwing around.
The film is a romantic comedy with really well rounded male AND female characters. How did you do that? I mean, how do you know chicks so well?
If I’ve only learned one thing from Dr. Phil, it’s not to fear my feminine side.
What was it like directing and acting? Which do you prefer?
At this point, I prefer whichever is paying.
Whose idea was it to cast Kevin Smith’s wife as the prostitute in the bachelor party sequence?
I love Kevin’s wife. Jennifer was bitten by the acting bug while doing Jay and Silent Bob and I already knew I was going to put Kevin in the movie somewhere. I just thought it would make a funny cameo for the two of them to play. It still makes me laugh.
Did Smith give you any pointers during the making of the film?
Yeah, he told me not to piss off the Catholics.
There’s a lot of infantile and vile humor in the film — which we loved — are these the kind of bizarre activities you engage in during your every day life?
Eighty percent of the things I do are either infantile or vile… So, I guess the answer is yes.
There had to be some stuff left on the cutting room floor. What scenes did it kill you to have to take out?
There weren’t so many scenes I had to cut out, but there was some dialogue that had to go. That was a little painful. A few of the lines I’m holding onto and I’m sure they’ll turn up in another script.
The film ends without resolving everything — was this intentional?
Yeah, I hate when you watch a movie or TV show and you know by the end of the hour everything is going to be fine. Why bother watching it? That certainly hasn’t been my life experience. I still have some relationships that I look back on and I’m like, “What the hell happened there?” Some of them I don’t really want to know… but now I digress.
Next? I’ll probably go get a beer.