The pair of lovable losers made their debut in Clerks, a film funded on credit cards that would ultimately propel director Kevin Smith and his movies – including Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma – to become a favourite with critics and audiences.
Twenty-five years after that debut, the chatty Jay and his “hetero life-partner” are back in a new film, Jay And Silent Bob Reboot.
While it’s ostensibly about them, the movie is full of Easter eggs for anyone who has been a fan of Smith’s work, including appearances from A-listers such as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris Hemsworth.
For Smith, it’s the first film he has made since having a heart attack in February 2018, and he is upfront about the benefits his health scare had when it came to making it.
“The heart attack was a casting agent for the movie,” he tells Sky News. “Because you’d call people up and be like, ‘Hey, man, can you come down to New Orleans and do, like, two lines in the movie?’ [And they’d say] ‘That’s awfully far to go for an hour of shooting.’
“You’d be like, ‘you do remember I almost died, right?’ and they’re like, ‘all right man, I’m coming’ – so I got to guilt a lot of people in to coming that way.”
Smith said that when they initially began shooting they did not know how many of the film’s stars would turn up.
“You know, going into the movie when we headed down to New Orleans we only had, cast-wise, me, Jason [Mewes], Harley [Smith], Jason Biggs had said yes, Melissa Benoist and Diedrich Bader, and that was it,” he says. “So we had six people of the 45 that we wound up with. We were terrified.”
The film is a reboot, but is also tongue-in-cheek critical of reboots.
Smith admits Hollywood isn’t keen on making anything that doesn’t have a proven track record at the moment.
“Original material doesn’t sell quite like familiarity,” he says. “And right now we live in the era of nostalgia and sentimentality and particularly for the ’90s, and that was like my decade.
“Reboot was our way of kind of making fun of all that and having fun with it and stuff; it’s a movie that makes fun of sequels and remakes and reboots, while being all three at the same time.”
The film-maker says that while he loves franchises, there’s not a lot of room for other material.
“I get it, I’m nostalgic as heck as well. And so any time they’re like, we’re doing Spider-Man again, or Batman again, I’m like, do it! Keep doing this until the end of time!
“But it also doesn’t create a lot of new opportunity for original material.”
As for how long that nostalgia will extend to Jay and Silent Bob, Smith thinks we’ll see them on screen again before he bids them a final goodbye.
“I remember saying once, you know, if I’m 40 and I’m still wearing a backwards baseball cap, shoot me. That was nine years ago, I’m way past that expiration date, so I think there’s one more of these.
“I told Jay, I was like, I think we’ll make one more Jay and Silent Bob movie before we die.”
Smith says he wants to wait until Mewes’s daughter, who appears in Jay And Silent Bob Reboot, is older.
“I think it’s gonna be in like, 15 years… I think we’re going to do a movie where Millie, Jay’s daughter has had a daughter of her own.
“That’ll be Logan – so Logan, who is Jay’s daughter in real life, will play his granddaughter in the movie.
“That’s how we keep it interesting for ourselves, if not the audience; the audience is like, ‘we checked out after Mallrats, bro’, but I’m still proceeding like they like it.”
Jay And Silent Bob Reboot is out in cinemas on 29 November