Kevin Smith is a very busy man. He’s wrapping up production on a new film, Yoga Hosers, a spiritual sequel of sorts to Tusk. In addition, he’s already hard at work on a Mallrats sequel tentatively titled Mallbrats, and many other films and projects have also been announced. Yet, despite the big man’s impressive work ethic (what with new scripts and podcasts), he has still found time throughout his career to occasionally appear in other people’s projects.
To celebrate the love-him-or-hate-him film auteur’s 45th birthday, we’ve put together a list of some our favorite Kevin Smith cameos and thespian-like efforts.
Richard Kelly’s failure of a second film is memorable for numerous reasons, not least of which is Smith’s small role as Simon Theory, a veteran of the Iraq War who lost his legs in combat. Aside from the literal fact that he has no legs, Smith is almost unrecognizable due to all the fake hair, prosthetics, and makeup Kelly had him buried under. The character’s constant drug use, however, reminds the audience that it’s Kevin under there all along.
Big Helium Dog
By the time View Askew’s Big Helium Dog hit the festival circuit in the late ’90s, Smith was already famous for Clerks. Brian Lynch’s film about a struggling comedy troupe features the cult director playing a director, and his scenes with Michael Ian Black’s character are some of the indie film’s best. Fun fact: aside from Smith and the View Askew crew, Big Helium Dog also features members of the Broken Lizard crew — Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme and Erik Stolhanske.
Despite Smith’s gradual branching out during the early 2000s, he couldn’t help but make the occasional cameo as his own character, Silent Bob in the films of others. Such was the case for Scream 3, in which he and Jason Mewes briefly played their iconic Clerks characters in a short exchange with Courtney Cox on a Hollywood film set. It’s a silly, throwaway, hey-look-who’s-here kind of scene, but at least neither Silent Bob nor Jay get the knife, so at least there’s that.
Bonus: Not Jay and Silent Bob, but close. Smith and Mewes appeared in a number of Degrassi episodes as a version of themselves. The episode that dealt with Mewes’ teen pregnancy was powerful.
Law & Order
In An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, the not-so-shy director talked about the one time he was a guest star on an episode of Law & Order. The 2000 episode he nabbed a guest spot on was titled “Black, White and Blue,” and he played “Tony’s Wife’s Nephew.” In other words, Smith played a nobody. Yet when he discussed the cameo in Evening Harder, he explained it much better: “I wanted to be the guy that led them to the guy that led them to the guy!”
Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars had a lot of one-off cameos, so it’s not surprising that Smith popped up briefly as — surprise, surprise — a clerk. He also wound up falling in love with the show, just like Degrassi. How has Kevin Smith not done a film about high school?
Catch and Release
For a brief moment in the mid-2000s, Smith seemingly threatened to become the “fat best friend” of all the single, good-looking men and women plagued by the bad plots of romantic comedies. Hence Catch and Release, one of Jennifer Garner’s first leading roles after her successful television debut on Alias. As for Kevin, he played Sam, one of Garner’s character’s dead fiancé’s best friends. Try saying that five times fast.
I honestly have no idea what this film is about. Hell, I’d never even heard of it before. But for reasons unknown, Smith deemed it worthy enough to cameo in an airplane scene as “Big Larry,” a rather large and talkative passenger who shares a row with one of the film’s main characters. It’s actually a bit uncomfortable to watch.
The 2007 cartoon adaptation of The Death of Superman comic book story, Superman/Doomsday, featured Smith’s cartoon likeness complaining about the return of the blue boy scout. Credited as “Grumpy Man,” Smith watched on with the rest of Metropolis as Superman defends the city from yet another diabolical threat. Whereas everyone else around him is enthused about the superhero’s return, Smith’s cartoon alter ego is unimpressed.
Live Free or Die Hard
What should have been a short cameo in the first of the outside-of-the-trilogy Die Hard sequels became a slightly larger role when Smith and actor Bruce Willis struck up a professional friendship on set. That’s because Smith rewrote his character Warlock’s lines, and Willis thought they were funny, though he eventually vetoed them in favor of more serious subject matter. Despite this, the two thought it’d be a good idea to work together again, so they made Cop Out, and now they’ll never work together again.
Before the monumentally superior Netflix series debuted in April, a theatrical attempt at bringing Marvel’s Daredevil to a wider audience happened in 2003. It famously starred Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner, and Michael Clarke Duncan. While Smith’s cameo as a police forensics tech named Jack Kirby (I see what you did there) is actually a nice interjection into a less than stellar film, it’s mostly forgettable. Plus, it’s difficult to forgive Smith for the association.
For a Good Time, Call…
Let’s be honest. The two best things about Smith are his original work and his penchant for making just about everything into a sex joke, even when the most non-sexual subjects are concerned, but when sex is the subject, Smith shines — especially in his cameo work. So there’s For a Good Time, Call… in 2012, in which Smith briefly stars as a masturbating cabbie who calls into the main characters’ homegrown phone sex line.