Kevin Smith Video Interview On His New Book, ‘Tough Sh*t,’ Mitt Romeny, Bruce Willis
Kevin Smith, the director of the cult classic Clerks, has just released a hilarious new book, Tough Sh*t, Advice From a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Smith, known for his raunchy, sharp humor — and also for being too fat to fly on Southwest Airlines — is no stranger to self-expression, and the book looks back at key moments in Smith’s 41 years in the industry, leaving very few details to the imagination. (There are stories about him having sex with his wife, for instance.) Nonetheless, Tough Sh*t is valuable for Smith fans, as it shows how he was was able to turn his love of film into a career. Oh, and it’s also outrageously funny.
One of the highlights of the book is Smith’s bizarre encounter with Bruce Willis. Smith was excited to work with the high profile actor on the film Cop Out (Smith reportedly took an 86% pay cut), but Willis nonetheless lacked the same enthusiasm. “He wasn’t the dude we all thought he was gonna be,” confesses Smith in our exclusive video interview. The unfortunate relationship between the two reached its climax when Willis evidently asked Smith if Smith wanted to punch him. “He literally goes, ‘Do you just want to hit me? You want to take a swing at me?’ And I was like, ‘What? Is somebody shooting this? Is your ex-wife’s current husband [who was then Ashton Kutcher] shooting this for Punk’d? Because why would you say something like that? It was crazy,” Smith said.
Hear more of what Smith has to say, including his endorsement of Mitt Romney for the Republican bid, in our video interview.
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I’ve always felt that if my kid ever has an issue with what I do for a living, or how I self-express, or what I write about, then I’ll be like, 'Okay, I will stop doing all of that; but you will starve because that’s how I make a living.' For me, if she came to me and was like, 'Why do you do these things?' I’d be like, 'Because that’s how dad earns, man. Dad earns by expressing himself, and being very honest while doing it. You should support that kind of thing.' But we’ve raised her to be an open kid, so I don’t think anything in the book would put her off, but would definitely make her eyes wide. I mean, she’s 12, so she doesn’t know about half of the things that go on in that book. But I don’t think that she’d be like, 'Please stop doing this, I’m humiliated.' I mean she might, she’s a tween. I showed up at a gas station and dropped her off at her bus stop, and I was wearing a pair of batman shorts-not boxers, a step above boxers, stuff you wear around the house, like PJ pants-and I had a jacket on on top of it. And I got out of the car to pump gas, and she was like 'Where are you going?' and I was like, 'I’m going to pump some gas.' And she’s like, 'Not in those shorts!' And I was like 'Are you kidding me? The batman shorts?' And she’s like, 'They’ve got bat symbols all over it.' I said, 'You’re named Harley Quinn, after The Joker's sidekick. Embrace it, kid.' She’s learned to accept the geekiness of the household and the candor of the household as well.
I got to the set of 'A Couple Of Dicks,' the movie was called that and then got changed to 'Cop Out,' like almost everyone else working on that movie, enthused to work with Bruce Willis. We were all huge Bruce Willis fans. So a lot of us, me included, took huge pay cuts to make that movie and to make the budget work. He got his salary, of course, he took no pay cuts. But the rest of us, like Mark Platt the producer, he didn’t even take his salary, and I gave up 84% of my salary. From 'Zack and Miri Make A Porno' to 'Cop Out' there was an 84%-86% pay drop. Only because I was like, 'I don’t care, I just want to work with Bruce Willis.' Tracy Morgan didn’t get paid as much as he could’ve gotten paid because he was like, 'I want to make a movie with Bruce Willis.' All of us showed up with that enthusiasm, and I don’t think that dude showed up to make the movie with us. He wasn’t the dude we all thought he was gonna be, which is not really his problem. Really, his problem is more about the expectations that people have of him, me included. I had worked beside him as an actor in 'Live Free Or Die Hard,' but this was the first time I was working with him where I was ostensibly in charge, as the guy who’s making decisions. And you’ve seen the movies and the characters he plays-Bruce just doesn’t work well with authority. I don’t know how else to say it. Even though I’m not authoritative like, 'Do what I say, Willis.' Top from the bottom I was like, 'Do what you want, I’m here to help you.' That dude just doesn’t like having to show up to a set at a specific time. We’d shoot in the mornings and he’d be like, 'Why the hell are we all here this early?' We’d shoot at nights and he’d be like, 'Why can’t you shoot this during the day?' 'Dude, if I can’t shoot at night or during the day; when am I supposed to make the movie? Can you give me a window? Just tell me when we can shoot the movie.' There was one point when he said, 'Do you want to hit me?' We were in the middle of an on-set argument where he cleared the set. It was about something ridiculous, an eye-line on the map box, for a shot he wasn’t even in! It was involving Kevin Pollock and Adam Brody. We were almost done with the shot, and I was like 'Check the gate.' Meaning, we're done, we're moving on to the next set-up. And he goes, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.' And again, he’s not even in this shot - and I go, 'We're not done?' And he goes, 'Come over here.' And I go, 'Alright everybody hold on one second, I have to go talk with the director.' And he turned, so coldly. He didn’t like that. And he goes, 'What did you say?' And I said, 'I said I was going to go talk with the director because you told me we’re not done and we have to go again.' And he goes, 'Do you wanna say something to me? Can I talk to you?' And I’m just like, 'Yeah.' And he’s like, 'Do you have an issue?' And I’m like, 'No. Do you have an issue?' And he goes, 'Maybe we should clear the set.' And I was like, 'Do you want me to clear the set? Okay.' I’d never worked with a major movie star before so I don’t know how they think—please don’t tell Ben Affleck I said that. I cleared the set and we had this kind of tete-a-tete. It was weird, I wouldn’t say it was agro, but he was alpha-male-ing me. And you can’t alpha-male me because I’m like, 'It’s your world, man. I’m never going to try to alpha-male you back. You put your hair up, I back down, because I know how to top from the bottom.' So I was like, 'Hey man, it’s your world.' He literally goes, 'Do you just want to hit me? You want to take a swing at me?' And I was like, 'What? Is somebody shooting this? Is your ex-wife’s current husband [who was then Ashton Kutcher] shooting this for 'Punk’d'? Because why would you say something like that? It was crazy.
The biggest, most important lesson one could ever take from something like that: Never fly fucking Southwest airlines. That’s simple, that’s the only lesson to learn. They’ve got some bizarre policies that they don’t make clear when you’re buying tickets, and I didn’t even fall under the criteria for this thing, and still they used it to smear me. I don’t think I was thrown off for that at all. My seat belt went around me, my armrests went down. The two ladies next to me were like, 'He’s not even in our space.' They bounced me for a personal reason. The dude that was in the jetway I think was like, 'Yank him off the plane.' Because he didn’t like my 'style' or the cut of my jib. I saw it in his face. Less than five minutes later I got yanked off. They told me, 'The pilot is saying that you should leave.' I said, 'Ma’am, I can’t see the pilot from where I’m sitting, so how could he possibly see me? I literally just sat down.' But they were coming up with their cover story. That’s what I hate about Southwest. They never just say, 'Look, someone made a bad call. Clearly this dude is not too fat to fly.' But instead, since I was tweeting, 'Hey man, I’m not too fat to fly on your plane.' They just used that as a profile. Then they started putting out information that wasn’t even true, saying, 'He regularly buys multiple tickets to fly our airline.' So not true. The cover story kept going. Later on they put out a blog saying, 'The captain is in-charge and determined he was too large to fly.' Then they put up this blog correction, never told anybody, just corrected it without saying a word-where the captain was removed from the equation completely saying, 'A staff member made the determination.' I guess the captain [Captain Leysath] asked when they landed, 'Why is this fat guy attacking me on Twitter?' And it’s because of what Southwest airlines told me, 'Captain Leysath said you were too fat to be on the plane.' They literally lied about one of their own employees and threw him under the bus—or the plane, as it were—and then later on they covered it up and said, 'Oh, that was just a crew member.' What a despicable company this is. Now, there are a lot of companies that don’t treat their customer-base very well, and unfortunately Southwest has people over the barrel because they have cheap rates—not as much as they used to, they’re becoming competitive—but I understand when people say, 'I can’t fly on the other airlines, Southwest is cheap enough for me,' and I grant you that. But if you’re 200 pounds or over steer clear for Southwest because they can just yank you out of your seat with no warning or rights whatsoever. They’ll offer you a voucher maybe if you’re lucky, but their policy is too spacious to enforce it because it means it would shut down so much business. So instead they let people at the gate enforce it, which is really unfair to do to their crew, and oddly enough, the people who enforce it at the gate are always thin. And to a thin person, every fat person is fat compared to them. If you’re not as thin as them you’re just fat in general.
If it’s gonna be Romney I can breathe a sigh of relief because I just saw 'Book of Mormon' on Broadway, and I love it. So if that’s what he’s about, I love it. He’s got a kooky religion—as depicted in the musical. It's fun and adventurous and whatnot; and who knew that Jesus lived in America? The Santorum guy, I’ve heard all of his speak before, not particularly fond of him, or people of his ilk. Lately the dude is talking about,'“You know what’s wrong with this country? PORNOGRAPHY.' And I’m like, 'Buddy, that’s one of the only things RIGHT about this country. One of the only kickback moments most of us have—men or women—is to look at naked pictures. Please don’t take our naked pictures from us.' So I’m not a Santorum guy. I’m not a Republican anyway, so really it doesn’t affect me. But hopefully it’ll be Mitt Romney. He doesn’t seem nearly as Bible-bashing. I’m spiritual myself; I believe in God. I don’t need some dude judging me and how I live, and cramming God down my throat. God is something that, you go to the fridge and say, 'I want a can of God,' and you enjoy it. The moment somebody is like, 'You have to take all of this God, you have to carry it and you have to live these rules,' they ruin a good thing. They take a simple beautiful notion like, 'Hey, there’s an invisible person up in the sky who is looking out for you,' and turn it into a controlling device to make people hate each other and divide. Romney seems less-so than that guy, so I’d say he’s the man, but I’m going Obama either way.