“I just got lucky,” Jason Mewes tells FilmInk on the line from the states. “They asked me to be part of the project. I don’t know why they decided to pick me, but I felt fortunate to be a part of it. The script was awesome, and I would get to play a robot monkey, so it was a win-win, because I’m a big fan of monkeys and I’m a big fan of robots. It was a dream role.” If you’re starting to giggle picturing the lanky star of Kevin Smith classics like Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back in a full monkey robot costume, then quickly check yourself. His latest film, Bling, is an animated kids’ flick, and Mewes is there in voice only, essaying the role of the aforementioned mechanical primate, Kit.
Vividly animated, Bling is the story of lowly theme park mechanic, Sam (voiced by Taylor Kitsch), who dreams constantly about his childhood sweetheart, Sue (Jennette McCurdy). With the misguided belief that only a bling ring can win him the girl of his dreams, Sam plans the most perfect night to propose to his one true love. But when supervillain, Oscar (Jason Kravits), shows up with an evil scheme involving a ring of his own, Sam’s plans are thrown into utter disarray. After mistaking each other’s rings for their own, Sam teams up with a crew of robot superheroes – including Mewes’ Kit – to track down his engagement ring and save the city.
Despite being surrounded by a wonderfully oddball cast (James Woods, Jon Heder, Jim Breuer, Tom Green, and Carla Gugino) on the film’s credits list, Bling was largely a solo effort for Jason Mewes, no stranger to animated voice work after the likes of Jay And Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, Fish Hooks, and Clerks: The Cartoon, and video games like Scarface: The World Is Yours and Randal’s Monday. “A lot of the projects that I’ve worked on is just me by myself, including Bling,” Mewes explains. “It’s just me going over the dialogue. It’s nice because you can do more takes, or if you flub something, you can do it again. There was one animated movie that I did where we were all in the room together, and that was Noah. That was really cool because I got to work with Michael Keaton and some other really awesome people. We were all in the same room, and we could play off of each other. But when you’re by yourself, you have the opportunity to try different things.”
Does that type of work ever get frustrating? “I’ve gotten frustrated, but that’s more when they want you to do stuff that isn’t true to the character,” Mewes replies. “The character is standing on a tree branch and he starts tapping his toes and doing a little dance, and the director was like, ‘Why don’t you try this and that?’ They wanted me to do sound effects which didn’t make sense to me. Then they said, ‘Do it again, do it again, and do it again, with some groans and grunts.’ It’s interesting, but it wasn’t frustrating enough that I went, ‘I hate this!’ It’s hard to complain when you end up playing a robot monkey. It’s definitely fun.”
For the many fans of Jason Mewes out there, it’s just good to see the actor working…and working steadily. Introduced to the world as the drug dealing anti-hero, Jay, by writer/director/actor, Kevin Smith, in his 1994 indie game-changer, Clerks, Mewes has been a regular Smith fixture ever since. The two are also friends off-screen, and it was Smith who helped Mewes through a well-documented bout of drug abuse. “I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for him,” Mewes told FilmInk back in 2012. “Kevin is like an older brother to me. We love working together, and automatically, I want to help him and be as good as I can be.” Four years on from that interview, the surprisingly warm, engaging, and on-point Mewes is even more mature and thoughtful today. “Oh, totally,” the actor replies when FilmInk asks if he feels like he’s grown up. “It has nothing to do with work…but you have to. You can’t get away being obnoxious in public as much as I could when I was 18. And now I have an 11-month-old daughter, so things have changed, and I have definitely grown up…at least I hope so.”
Married to Jordan Monsanto since 2009, their daughter, Logan Lee, born in 2015, hasn’t slowed Mewes down when it comes to his work. “My daughter isn’t going to keep me from travelling if it’s work related,” Mewes says. “But we do things a little differently. If, for instance, I’m going to London to work for two days, in the past I would have come out five days earlier so that I could adjust to the time difference and also hang out and go sightseeing. I love it in London. Or Australia, same thing. I would go, ‘I am going to Australia, so I am going to check out Sydney and Perth, and I am going to go 5 days earlier and hang out for 5 days after.’ But now it’s like, ‘I want to leave 2 days beforehand, and I am coming back the day after because I want to get home for my kid.’ So it won’t keep me from travelling, but it will keep me from spending as much time away when it’s not necessary.”
Right now, fatherhood is impinging ever so slightly on Mewes’ noted life as a pop culture fan-boy. “Kevin is in Vancouver right now, and he’s directing one of my favourite shows, which is The Flash,” Mewes sighs. “Normally I would go out there and hang out, so I can support him and check out the set and all that. But I’m not there right now because of the baby. It’s not a bummer, because I want to spend time with the baby. But of course I’d like to be hanging out with Kevin on the set of The Flash!” Has little Logan Lee seen Bling? “We started to play it the other day, and we watched it together,” Mewes replies. “I think that she understands that it’s me because she smiles, but she’s easily distracted. But whatever the job is, if I like what it is and I feel that it’s challenging, then totally, I will still do it. I’m not worried about her seeing it!”
Though he regularly lights out on his own – and now boasts a mess of horror flicks and other disparate projects to his name, including the typically atypical Bling – it is Mewes’ enduring creative relationship and off-screen friendship with Kevin Smith that forms the bedrock of his career. “We grew up down the street from one another, and we went to the same high school,” Mewes explains. “We knew each other, but what started us hanging out is comic books. There was this community centre in the little town that we grew up in, and all the kids from school would go there afterwards to wait until their parents got off work. These guys calling themselves The Comic Book Men – Kevin, Walter [Flanagan] and Bryan [Johnson] – who had graduated high school, would all sit in the corner reading comic books. And I was this 13-year-old kid running around there, and hanging out with kids my age, but I would always come up to these guys going, ‘What are you guys doing? These comics look awesome.’ And they started giving me some of their old comic books, and then they started bringing me to their comic book store weekly so that I could get new comics. I would save money for those. So comic books started the friendship.” How does Mewes feel now, with comic books and comic book movies seemingly the new black? Does he love all of the Marvel and DC movies? “Of course,” Mewes laughs. “It’s beautiful.”
But even in a world where comic books have finally become cool, Jason Mewes – one-time addict, first-time father, famous wise-cracker, finely tuned comic actor, and enthusiastic devourer of pop culture – remains a highly unlikely cult hero. “I do comic book conventions, and I’ll be at one of those, and a girl will come up and she’ll be crying and stuff,” Mewes says of his unusual kind of celebrity. “It hits me constantly. I had no idea that I would be doing this, and having people this excited to see me. I can’t believe that they flew me to Hawaii to do 1 day’s work [on the TV series, Hawaii Five-0], and everything was paid for. There’s definitely stuff that I am not used to, and feel uncomfortable with. Again I’ll mention the comic book conventions, but I’ll walk in, and there’ll be Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and William Shatner. It’s so surreal. They’re chatting and talking to me, but I’ll still feel out of place. I’ll be thinking, ‘Wow, I’m not supposed to be in this green room with all these people that I’ve been watching for 20 years.’ I love their stuff. I still feel weird in those places.”
Bling will be available exclusively for free until April 10 on Google Play. Bling is also part of Google Play’s family-friendly discovery experience that is designed to help parents find apps, games, movies & TV shows and books that are appropriate for their kids. Simply tap the “Family” button on the Apps, Games and Movies & TV homepages or the “Children’s Books” button on the Books homepage to find recommendations by age and interests.
Check out the trailer for Bling below.