Clerks III – Jeff Anderson ‘went through two scripts’ before filming

WARNING: This article contains full spoilers for Clerks III.

After almost 40 years of cinema, Kevin Smith’s Clerks series has come to a resounding end. He launched his “View Askew” cinematic universe with the first film in 1994, and now he’s rounded out the trilogy with, you guessed it, an awfully dark finale filled with glimmers of hope that shine with defiance. Jeff Anderson and Brian O’Halloran returned as Randal Graves and Dante Hicks (respectively) in roles that have followed them for decades. And for their final outing, they returned to the original Clerks locations, but this wasn’t enough for Smith.

In an exclusive chat with Express.esO’Halloran raved about the original Clerks clients returning their final cameos.

“We were able to film in the original neighborhood,” he said. “And thank God we did, because we had easy access to all these people that we worked with in ’92.”

Clerks was originally filmed and edited on a shoestring budget in 1992, with much of the project financed by Smith himself. Clerks III even references the monochrome look of the film which covered up the lack of set and design work.

Anderson couldn’t help but smile as she talked about her first foray into acting (and, as it would turn out, one of her few). He noted that many of the gamblers who entered the convenience store in the final scenes of the film’s Clerks III were the same people from the first film. “That was the most wild and crazy thing to see, these people come back,” she smiled. “And I said this before, these people who were in Clerks – they were [real] customers who entered the store – they were not actors! But when they came in and performed, they were all like professional actors.”

However, the most jarring moment for Anderson came when the cameras stopped rolling. As he took a breather outside, he struck up a conversation with a young woman in her early 30s. As it turned out, “She was actually the eight-year-old girl I sold cigarettes to.” [in Clerks]!”

Anderson was talking about Frances Cresci, who IMDB credits as “The Little Smoking Girl” in Clerks, the reason Dante was fined for selling cigarettes to a minor, even though it was Randal. “She’s in her mid-thirties now!” Anderson let out a laugh. “It made me feel totally old.”

However, this interaction was touching, as Clerks III is about the clock of mortality that does not stop. Throughout Clerks III, both Dante and Randal suffered life-altering heart attacks, one of which proved essentially fatal.

But did this source material make the actors aware of their own mortality? Anderson smiled his Randal smile and said, “Every day I get out of bed I’m reminded that I’m getting older… I didn’t need a movie to tell me that!”

On the other hand, O’Halloran admitted that his life experiences really helped him translate the film’s most dramatic scenes from the page to the screen.

In one of the final moments of Dante’s life, he delivered a powerful and vicious monologue directed at Randal. In another emotionally charged moment, Dante wept at the grave of his wife, Becky (Rosario Dawson), who died in tragic circumstances while she was pregnant with her child.

These scenes may not have been possible for a 25-year-old O’Halloran. He revealed, “The process of getting there, I mean the loss in my own life. And the disappointment in other things… so I took advantage of that. It’s amazing to have amazing people to broadcast these scenes.” [For example,] it’s very easy to fall in love with Rosario Dawson’s character; it’s so easy to realize the loss of never having that life knowing there was a child on the way, and the emotional toll that would take on someone after all these years.”

The real-life aspect of the film’s final scenes also added weight to O’Halloran’s performance. As Dante ranted furiously at Randal about his life, O’Halloran looked to Anderson for inspiration. It was the end of an era between these two actors who had been working together for four decades. “I’ve been looking at Jeff as this character for years! Knowing in my head that this could be the last conversation [between the characters] added to the intensity and fury that this relationship was during all these years.

But, before the film became a beautiful love letter and the final chapter of the Clerks universe, writer-director Kevin Smith couldn’t put the script together.

Anderson recalled that it took a few tries before the band was convinced to get back together one last time. He said: “Interestingly, the idea came from Clerks III, or the first email or message from it, was that [Smith] I wanted to do a Broadway show! To which I replied, ‘Man, you’ve been smoking way too much weed!'”

Anderson immediately let Smith know that “that wasn’t going to happen”, before adding that it was “just not right” for Clerks’ final story. With a dash denied, Smith went back to his laptop and started over. When he finally produced another script, Anderson was one of the first to look at it, again.

“At some point, they sent me the script and I read it,” he said. “And the original script for Clerks III was a weird script…it was very dark, it didn’t fit into the world of Clerks. And that was shelved for a few years.”

Eventually, Anderson and Smith bumped into each other at a fan signing. There, Smith “pitched a new idea” to Anderson and admitted that it “sounded a lot better”. “It was much more appropriate for Clerks,” he added.

With all said and done in the world of the Clerks, Anderson and O’Halloran seemed happy with what they had accomplished.

“I think it’s a great way that Kevin has taken a bow in this View Askew, Dante, Randal scenario,” O’Halloran said. “Though… knowing him, in literally nine or ten months he’ll probably have a way to do Clerks 4. And to be honest with you, if he’s smart enough, why not?”

Weird. Considering how the ending of Clerks III has been presented and talked about, it seemed like the actors were done with the series once and for all. Would they return in the future? O’Halloran said, “Unless Randal found the Necronomicon book and he decided to become a witch and raise an army of the dead, of which I would be one of those participants, sure. I’m in.”

Anderson chuckled, “I’d consider it if Randal could come in and hand Elias the keys and that would be it. I’d be willing to do it!” Considering Anderson told me later that he “wasn’t pursuing acting,” this isn’t much of a surprise.

O’Halloran was quick to add that they have talked about “maybe rebooting the Clerks cartoon series.” The original The Clerks: The Animated Series enjoyed a six-episode run in 2000. But with renewed interest, O’Halloran gushed about “filling in the time slots” within the three-film series.

“I think the fans would enjoy that,” he smiled gratefully. “We would totally do that.”

Clerks III is available digitally today and on Blu-ray and DVD on December 25, 2022.

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