29 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Clerks’ on Its 29th Anniversary
Twenty-nine years ago, Dante Hicks showed up for work at the Quick Stop convenience store, despite the fact that he, as repeatedly stated, is “not even supposed to be here today.” Kevin Smith’s black-and-white cult classic Clerks came out on October 19, 1994, and from humble beginnings, it spawned an entire cinematic universe while also making Smith a household name.
So let’s buy a refreshing pack of Chewlie’s gum and discuss these 29 tidbits for Clerks’ 29th anniversary with our fellow customers…
Based on a True Story
Clerks was inspired by Smith’s time working in the real Quick Stop convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey, from 1989 to 1994.
Mewes the Muse
It was while working at Quick Stop that Smith first heard about Jason Mewes. Smith was 20, and a few friends told him about the 16-year-old Mewes, a local kid who would say and do outrageous things around town. He soon befriended Mewes and wrote the part of Jay for him when developing Clerks.
‘Slacker’ Inspired the Slackers in ‘Clerks’
Smith got the idea for Clerks after seeing Richard Linklater’s cult hit Slacker. Watching the movie made him realize that he could make a good film independently.
Smith Sold His Comic Book Collection to Fund ‘Clerks’
According to the View Askew website, “Clerks was made for $27,575. It was mainly funded by 10 credit cards that Kevin had to his name, funds garnered from store credit after he sold his comic book collection, a family donation and paychecks from working at the Quick Stop and RST Video.”
Quick Stop Is Still Standing
The real Quick Stop is located at 58 Leonard Avenue in Leonardo, and it’s still owned by Smith’s old boss, Rajiv Thapar.
Day for Night
The Real Dante and Randal
Smith based Dante Hicks on himself; Randal Graves is based on Smith’s friend Bryan Johnson.
Smith Wanted to Play Randal
Despite being Dante’s inspiration, Smith originally planned to play Randal in the film. However, closer to actual production, Smith thought both directing and remembering all of Randal’s dialogue would prove too difficult. He then cast Jeff Anderson as Randal and chose to play the part with just one line: Silent Bob.
Silent Bob Versus Not-So-Silent Kevin
“Nobody ever thought that Silent Bob was much of a performance,” Smith said in a video for Vanity Fair. “They’re like, ‘You’re not acting, you’re not even talking.’ But knowing how much I fucking talk, seeing how vocal and verbal I am, the fact that I played a character that didn’t speak for six or seven movies, give me a fucking Oscar. It’s hard for me not to talk.”
Quick Production at the Quick Stop
Clerks was filmed in just three weeks.
Smith loved eating Fig Newtons when working at Quick Stop.
Why ‘Clerks’ Is in Black and White
Clerks shot in black and white because it was the cheapest option. However, after its release, Smith read a review where the reviewer said the black and white made it seem like the movie was shot from the perspective of the store security cameras. Smith began using that explanation going forward.
Yeah, THAT Alan Dershowitz
“Originally rated NC-17 for language. Miramax hired Alan Dershowitz … to appeal the rating. The rating was successfully appealed without any cuts,” according to the View Askew site.
‘Clerks’: The Divine Comedy
One source of inspiration for Clerks was the 14th century Italian poem The Divine Comedy. Dante is named after its author, Dante Alighieri, and the movie is divided into nine chapters to represent the nine circles of hell.
Smith’s mom has a cameo as the “Milk Maid.” She’s also done cameos in the Clerks sequels.
What’s in a Name?
The film’s original title was Inconvenience before Smith settled on Clerks.
Silent Bob’s Words of Wisdom
Silent Bob’s line, “You know, there’s a million fine-looking women in the world, but they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of them just cheat on you,” was originally Jay’s line, but Jason Mewes struggled with the dialogue so Smith did it himself.
The Familiar Letters in the ‘Clerks’ Logo
According to ScreenRant, the Clerks logo, which is comprised of cut-out letters like you might see in a ransom note, came from a number of familiar sources: “The C comes from Cosmopolitan magazine, the L comes from Life magazine, the E is from Rolling Stone, the R is taken from the logo for Ruffles chips, the K is taken from the Clark bar logo and the S is from Goobers candy.”
The Darker Ending
Clerks originally ended with Dante getting shot during a robbery. The scene was even included on the film’s DVD.
Clerks debuted at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan.
Saved By a Hawk
The Angelika screening, which was part of the Independent Feature Film Market Festival, was attended by only one person who wasn’t a friend, a relative or a crew member. That audience member was Bob Hawk, an independent film guru, who encouraged Smith to submit Clerks to Sundance.
Accolades for ‘Clerks’
Clerks was shown at Sundance in 1994, where it won a Filmmaker’s Trophy. It was then bought by Miramax for wider distribution. Clerks also won the Mercedes-Benz Award, the Golden Camera Award and the Foreign Film Award at Cannes in 1994.
‘Clerks’ Inspired Jason Reitman
Dante and Randal’s Animated Adventures
A six-episode animated Clerks series debuted on ABC in 2000 but was canceled after just two episodes. (The rest of the series was shown on Comedy Central in 2002.) After recently watching it with an audience at Smodcastle Cinemas, Smith declared, “That show was funny, man. Honestly, pound for pound, minute for minute, the funniest thing I’ve ever been involved with.”
’Clerks’ Minus Smith
Another Clerks TV show had an even shorter run. In 1995, a pilot was greenlit that Smith didn’t even know about until it was well into production (as he doesn’t own the characters). It starred Jim Breuer as Randal and Andrew Lowery as Dante. You can watch it on YouTube (though this is not recommended).
The Forgotten ‘Clerks’ Sequel
Years before a Clerks sequel was conceived, Smith did a 2002 short film called The Flying Car, featuring Dante and Randal arguing about flying cars while stuck in traffic.
‘The Passion of the Clerks’
Clerks II was originally going to be named The Passion of the Clerks until Smith read something online where a fan was insulting the title. Smith eventually realized that a reference to The Passion of the Christ would be over two years old by the time Clerks II hit theaters in 2006, so he changed the title.
A Trilogy of ‘Clerks’
Smith had been trying to make Clerks III since the end of Clerks II. He finally released the third installment in 2022.
More ‘Clerks’ on the Way
While promoting Clerks III, Smith said, “As long as there’s breath in my lungs, there’s an opportunity to make a Clerks movie.”