Kevin Smith’s enthusiasm for all things geek is something that he displays proudly. He has the Infinity Stones practically tattooed on his soul, and one doesn’t have to travel all the way to the MCU’s Vormir to find evidence of his fandom. He hurls it all out there, weeping openly over the WandaVision finale while understanding that childhood memories are something that, if at all possible, must be treated with care. That earnestness, right there, is one reason why Netflix and Mattel entrusted Smith with showrunning a Masters of the Universe sequel series because, to be perfectly blunt, the dude has the Power of Grayskull running through his veins. When I hopped on a Zoom call with him ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, Smith made it known that he’s perfectly aware that he’s been entrusted with precious IP, and after I watched the batch of five episodes that will arrive on July 23, I can say that he’s taken that responsibility seriously.
It’s a rather dazzling turn of events to see Smith harnessing his fandom in such a way, after decades of largely doing his own indie thing (we’ll forget about Cop-Out if you don’t mind) and also being the guy who publicly told Harvey Weinstein to shut the hell up. And Smith revels in placing nods to comic books everywhere in his movies. He did, after all, sneak an exchange (between Jason Lee’s Brodie and Stan Lee) about The Thing’s “orange rock” anatomy into Mallrats. That’s one of the most fondly regarded (and banal) nerd moments in Smith’s body of work, and it’s only the tip of the geeky iceberg. It’s also completely unrelated to a question about Chris Rock falling naked from the sky in Dogma that I didn’t have time to work into the discussion. Yes, I’ll kick myself forever for that omission, but Kevin Smith and I did still have a fine conversation.
Naturally, we discussed Masters of the Universe: Revelation (and there will be a second part to this interview following the premiere), which brings back all of the O.G. characters that you remember and love. So there’s Adam/He-Man and Teela, along with Skeletor (Mark Hamill, having the time of his life) and Orko and Tri-Clops and Cringer and Evil-Lyn, and you get the picture. This is like the original show on steroids and will largely appeal to grown-ups who do want to relive their childhood again with more mature action and themes. Yes, the franchise is still holding onto that silly “secret” about Adam’s identity, and where that all goes is pivotal. Smith knows exactly how to pull nostalgic strings in the most effective way because he’s feeling those feelings, too. He was also cool enough to not shut down my question about his most infamous tweet of all time.
Hey, Kevin. Didn’t realize we’d be on camera today, but there’s your famous purple jacket, sooo that’s my cue?
You don’t have to. It’s dealer’s choice… hey, look at you!
Warning: I am in vacation mode, popped off a flight, ate my weight in brunch, and I might be in a food coma over here. So, not totally professional.
Oh, you’re f*cking lucky. I’m in the middle of a fast… day three of a fast over here.
Well, I saw on Twitter that you’re very committed to hiking these days.
I’ve been a big Runyon Canyon hiker over here for a while, but lately, it’s been more consistent that it’s happened, so I think today is day twelve straight of hiking Runyon.
You’ve got far more discipline than I do with the fasting thing.
It is an exercise in discipline. I do it because when I eat, I overeat. Like, I show no discipline whatsoever, and so, with my life in general, I asked, “Why do I do this?” And I have to be able to prove to myself that I’m not an animal. Because some days, when I’m sitting around on my bed, I’ll watch a two-hour movie, and I will be eating right through to the credits, and that’s not normal. People don’t eat for two hours straight, so for me, going on the fast is like, I can control this. I need to control this.
Well, you look great, skin glowing and all that good stuff, too.
It’s honestly the only area of my life where I’ve felt out of control. Once I turn on the “well, I’m going to start eating,” I’ll just f*cking go. And I’ll grow the stomach and distend it. So, of the course of the last year, I’ve been f*cking around with intermittent fasting. Generally, it’s a 20-4 schedule, so I’ll be without food for 20 hours, and I’ll have a 4-hour eating limit. Sometimes, I’ll just drop the food and have an all-liquid and water diet. Right now, I’m about to hit 72 hours. The longest one I ever did was 123 and sh*t like that. And I’m like, “You don’t get it.” Fit people tell me I’m nuts, but I’m like, “You cats don’t have anything to lose.” I’m literally carrying around stored energy that’s just waiting to be f*cking eaten. So if I don’t eat, I still eat, you know what I’m saying?
Yeah, so are your emotions all wrapped up in the food stuff? You do not hide emotions at all, you really put it all out there.
Yeah, you gotta. I’ve learned at a certain point to just go with “heart on the sleeve” about everything, career and life in general. But with that, when you talk about weight, it’s such a personal issue. A lot of people know about this issue and know these feelings, so [with] getting it out there, you find support. It’s the internet, so you get some people being like, “Lose weight, you fat f*ck,” but there’s a lot of people who are like, “I’ve been there. Tomorrow’s another day.” Stuff like that, it’s incredible support. People have been joining Weight Watchers and other groups for years for that kind of support, and you get it for free on social media if you’re just honest with them. And yes, the tiny price is that it’s ammunition for anyone to attack you, but to be honest, you get attacked on the internet whether you do anything or not.
All you really gotta do is exist to be a target. Some people are waiting to pounce and knock everyone down a few pegs.
And doing a thing, even if someone’s making fun of you like, “Oh, you’re hiking, you jerk.” It’s like, yeah. I’m the jerk, fair enough, and if you don’t hike, you’re attacked as a jerk, so at a certain point, you might as well do the healthy thing. The weird thing is watching people be like, “Man, you used to look so good, you should stop losing weight.” That is a mindf*ck, where you’re like, “Wait a second.” Like, not only do I know that I didn’t look good, but I was f*cking unhealthy, and I almost died. And you’re telling me to go back to that? They’re like, “Yeah, you look unhealthy at this point.” And no, I’m 100 pounds thinner, but it is a real emotional thing. Alcoholism, drugs, parental abuse, priest abuse? Like, I have a very uncontroversial childhood and adulthood, and f*cking overeating food. In my TV movie, that’s the f*cking pivot upon which everything rests.
On the subject of emotions, I gotta admit enjoying when you post videos of yourself watching Marvel trailers and just let it all out. You must have grown emotional while watching these He-Man episodes, too. How do you hope people will feel when they watch?
Honestly, we’ve been making this for two years, and for the last year of the pandemic, particularly, that’s when I started seeing the first of the animatics, a black-and-white version of the show, a real sketch version of the show, that I thought was brilliant enough to run. I was like, “Let’s just air this, this looks fantastic.” And Pat [Stannard] and Adam [Conarroe], our directors, were like, “Shh, shh. Let us do our jobs, bro.” So I got to watch, during the grimmest time in human history, every week, cuts of the show would come in. And I’m an early riser and a wake-and-baker. If I don’t have a script to work on or something to do, then it’s like, “Okay, what will entertain me?” Generally, I watch a lot of late-night programming in the morning and stuff like that, but what I did during the pandemic was wake up, roll a joint, and just rewatch.
That’s a great way to spend a pandemic, if we all have to endure one.
And it’s not narcissistic because I didn’t write every episode. I was involved with it, and it’s my story and sh*t, but other people brought wonderful things to it that make me appreciate it more… So I was in this weird position of like, I could see this thing that others couldn’t and watch it develop, and it was so joyous to watch come together: visually, aurally, with the sound and whatnot, the special effects. Pat and Adam, I saw the first color vision they did and was like, “This is f*cking stunning,” and they’re like, “We’re only 50 percent done”… so when they got to their final, they were so right to keep me patient. So I would get emotional. I would sit and watch in the morning and cry. Like, you’ve seen the episode, and you know who dies and sh*t like that. Each time, and I wrote it for heaven’s sake, and every time I watched it, [redacted]’s performance is so incredibly moving that he takes me to that place. Pat and Adam’s direction of that scene, Bear McCreary’s score that we’re not even worthy to have took me to that place to reenjoy. So, my dream is that everyone loves it as much as me. However, I’ve been in this world long enough to know that’s never gonna be the case. That being said, I also dreamed that about the Jay and Silent Bob stuff, but with Masters of the Universe, they’re letting me play with someone else’s toys.
And there are a lot of people out there prepared to claim destroyed childhoods, no matter what happens on the show.
There is a lot of affection and love for this, long before I got here and long after I leave, so in many ways, this will probably be the thing that I’ve worked on that is seen by the most people. Even right now as we speak, the teaser’s been viewed over 10 million times. No trailer I’ve ever made has been viewed 10 million times. No movie I’ve made has been viewed over 10 million times. So, you get to realize what it’s like when J.J. [Abrams] gets to make a Star Wars, or when the Russo Brothers get to make an Avengers thing. You’re being handed prized possessions that don’t just mean a lot to a corporation, although they do mean a lot to Mattel, but they mean something deep to people you’ve never met before. People you stand beside in life. Poets will come out of the woodwork, man, if you say something that means something to them. And I have met every Masters of the Universe poet online since we dropped that teaser. Like, it’s not just a show they watch, it’s the era they watched it. That part of their life, the friends that they had. It’s everything, so when you’re working with the very rich IP of Masters of the Universe, you’re working with the even richer memories and nostalgia that everybody has. It’s a wicked, heady brew. All you have to do is not f*ck it up. Don’t p*ss in the brew, and we knew how to do that because Marvel showed us the way.
The method to the madness, your true inspiration, now comes to light.
For ten years, I’ve been studying Kevin Feige as a f*ckin’ fan. How the f*ck do you do this? How the f*ck do you give me my childhood back and make me love it even more than I loved it the first time? You make me feel young watching this sh*t, man. So, I said to the writers’ room, “We’re just gonna model this. We’re gonna do the Marvel method, not like they did in the comic books, where you write the dialogue later. We’re gonna do the Marvel Cinematic Universe method, which is that we’re gonna give them their exact childhood back and accentuate it. We’re gonna do it better than the show that they saw and reach into their f*ckin’ memories and show them their memories of this thing.” Because if people watched the teaser and are like, “Oh my god, there’s so much action, it’s just like my childhood.” I urge them to go back and watch the show that we’re sequelizing. There was no action. They couldn’t.
Exactly. There was no swordplay in the old show, and no real followthrough on peril, and no actual deaths.
Yeah! Right? Nobody got to stab or anything like that, so what we’re showing them is a heightened version of their memories. There are all the characters as you remember them. They’re all designed the same, and their relationships are all the same, but we can actually have them hit each other and stab each other. People could die, and there are real consequences and stakes for that sort of thing. So, the idea in the writers’ room was, “Look, we have to have it ready for the audience, so when they watch it, they’re like, ‘Holy sh*t, my toys are exactly where I left them. Let me have fun again.'” And you know, they’re adults, so they can deal with a more grown-up story, so to speak. And I hope everyone loves it as much as I do, I know that won’t be the case, but I know they’ll love this more than anything else I’ve ever done, as a whole.
So, when the teaser came out, a rumor spread that there wasn’t much He-Man in this show. How did you deal with shutting down talk that this was The Teela Show?
It’s been hard. I couldn’t say certain things, and in the absence, people filled in their own details. There was a post that somebody made on Twitter. They were like, “I heard from an inside source that says this is The Teela Show. Teela proves that she’s a better He-Man than He-Man. She gets the sword, and she’s got a girlfriend.” I was like, “Look, I wish you were there with us in the writers’ room. That would have been fun, but I can honestly tell you that is not the f*cking show. You were lied to.” Then they saw the teaser and were like, “Teela’s all over it!” And I was like, “Yes, but if you are familiar with the show and are as big of a fan as you say you were, then you’ll remember that in every single episode of Masters of the Universe, Teela was right there, fighting for Adam, protecting him, or fighting side-by-side with He-Man.” The same thing with Evil-Lyn and Skeletor. People are like, “Is this woke?” And if this is woke, then they were woke in 19f*cking83. Because we’re literally doing the same sh*t.
Alright, my final question is something off-topic. You have a tweet. It’s a very notorious tweet, one for which you celebrate the anniversary.
Ten years in and we bone like we're cheating on each other WITH each other. A decade-plus and her clit/brown/taint-area still pOwns my dick.
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) July 9, 2009
Have you ever thought of, I don’t know, scrubbing that tweet from existence, or is it really important to you, and it’s gonna stick around forever?
Oh, it’s not important to me, although if you know the back story of that tweet…
Yes, you lost a bet with your wife, so she got to post whatever she wanted to your account.
First off, I’m not allowed to take it down, but more importantly, like, kids, it’s the internet. Even if I take it down, it exists. And if I take it down, it just looks worse, like I’m trying to hide it. And so in a world like… I remember when the #MeToo thing happened, there were people who pointed to that tweet and were like, “That’s very #MeToo.” And I’m like, “She’s my wife. I’m literally talking about how I would like to cheat on my wife with my wife.” It couldn’t be less like #MeToo or something like that. So to me, it was more damaging to take it down than to leave it up because everyone knew about it. Or they found out about it later one. But I remember when that thing went up, a few people were like, “Oh, that’s funny” and sh*t. I remember saying to Jennifer, “Your plan backfired.”
Oh no, it did not backfire.
I had no idea that she was playing the long con because that f*ckin’ tweet came back to haunt me. For years! And now still exists, and I’ve had a very complicated relationship with that tweet because I’m not the author of it. At the same time, I’m like, “A deal’s a deal, I should leave it up and sh*t.” So, it’s one of those weird things where periodically on the internet, I have to eat sh*t from total strangers over something that really wasn’t mine. And my wife… I’ve stopped complaining about it because when I complain about it, she’s like, “Good, that will teach you.” It was all meant to be a lesson in why I shouldn’t tweet about our sex life. I have learned my lesson. Try to find a f*cking tweet about our sex life in the last ten years. It doesn’t exist.
Thank you for indulging me on that question. The tweet shall haunt us all forever.
[Takes a swig of water and chuckles.] I love that tweet.
Netflix’s ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ streams on July 23.