Kevin Smith’s good friend was hurting. The director’s longtime Jersey pal had battled his way back from heroin addiction, but needed some help staying clean. So Smith broke out his stash of compassion.
Smith’s friend is his longtime onscreen sidekick, Jason Mewes, who debuted as the fast-patter slacker Jay — beside Smith’s Silent Bob as his mute comic foil — in Smith’s cult-favorite indie comedy “Clerks.” The pair reprised those roles in future films, including “Chasing Amy,” in which characters played by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee create a comic book about two marijuana-powered superheroes: Bluntman (played by Smith) and Chronic (Mewes).
After losing a swath of his life to drug addiction, the recovering Mewes was eager to get back into entertainment — be it on Smith’s popular podcast, on stage or on screen. The result of the pair’s reunion comes to Warner Theatre on Sunday night, when the duo screens its new animated film, “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” then presents a “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” podcast. The scheduled three-hour show is their second stop in a 17-city national tour.
“I wish I could say our ideas were lofty,” Smith says by phone. “We’re doing this tour solely because Jason was jealous of the ‘Red State’ experience,” he adds, referring to the successful tour supporting his 2011 live-action film.
Several years ago, Smith was making the action picture “Cop Out,” and planned to use Mewes as a stuntman. That changed after a conversation Smith had with Mewes’s wife, Jordan. “I don’t know how to say this, but Jason might be using drugs again,” Smith recalls her saying.
“We thought he’d been clean,” Smith says. “She said, ‘He’s doing Oxycontin and shooting heroin again.’ ” Smith’s response was to stage an intervention. “Get him here over to the house,” he said he told her. “We’ll get him to come over for breakfast.” As a result, Jason Mewes went to rehab for two days — then he bolted. Says Smith: “His commitment to sobriety wasn’t there.”
“I said to his wife, ‘You can leave him,’ ” Smith recounts. “ ‘I’ve been through this with him. You have your whole full life ahead of you. He ain’t coming back.’ I was defeatist about it. But I’ve never seen anything like it. She hung in with the dude. She rebuilt their marriage and she rebuilt him.”
As he recovered, Mewes started hanging around the theater in Hollywood where Smith records his popular SModcast podcast. “ ‘I can’t talk to you till you’re back on the wagon,’ ” Smith says he told Mewes. Once his friend proved he was staying clean, the two launched their own podcast, “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.”
On the show, Mewes spoke openly about his heroin and pill abuse. He also began to thirst to do more creatively. His idea: Make an animated feature film based on Bluntman and Chronic. Smith gave him the go-ahead based on their agreed-upon budget: $69,000. They hired a Canadian animator, Steve Stark, who had impressed them with his cartoon versions of their podcasts, and they hired such guest voices as Eliza Dushku, Neil Gaiman and Jon Lovitz.
“Goofy as it is, dopey as it is, this film is a Rock of Gibraltar for this kid,” Smith says of “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” which Mewes produced. “It’s kind of a benchmark of his sobriety.”
As for the podcast portion of the tour, “therapy doesn’t work with him,” Smith says of Mewes. “He was born to a junkie. He doesn’t know who his dad was. He was a bagman as a boy, and was around criminal addicts. . . . But this is his therapy. Talking about your life and struggles. That’s the talking cure.
“He’s gone to such weirdly emotional places in the show without breaking down. . . . He once remembered that a guy had made him touch him [as a boy]. My heart cracked. He calmly said: ‘I just remembered that.’ ”
Smith notes, too, that the road to their comic reunion has made their bond stronger. “Doing this brought us closer together,” he says. “We’re best friends over the last few years. You can’t have that relationship with a human time bomb. Now I trust him. Before, I could only trust him to burn something down or shoot himself up. . . . If he hadn’t fallen down the rabbit hole again, we wouldn’t be as close today.”
Now that the Intervention Plan has morphed into the Prevention Tour, Mewes — now clean for more than 1,000 days, the director says — can joke about that breakfast invitation.
“When he tells the story now,” says Smith, “he says he knew I was lying. He says, ‘You never invited me over to breakfast!’ ”