‘Clerks’ Celebrates 30th Anniversary This Year: 10 Fun Facts You May Not Know

Marilyn Ghigliotti, Jeff Anderson, Kevin Smith, Brian O'Halloran, Lisa Spoonauer, 1994,
Miramax Films/courtesy Everett Collection

Though not a huge success at the time of its release in 1994, Clerks became a big indie cult classic for many late Gen X and early millennials who came of age in the 1990s. Inspired by the Richard Linklater film Slacker and set in a New Jersey convenience store where director Kevin Smith was also working at during the time of filming, the film follows the lives of two store clerks named Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) as they bother customers, discuss movies and play hockey on the store’s roof.

CLERKS, Brian O'Halloran, 1994.

Miramax/courtesy Everett Collection

Smith, who also plays the character Silent Bob, would find fame after its release, especially as he continued to play one half of the comedic duo of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob in many more movies, such as Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma plus their own movies. Clerks spawned a couple of sequels, an animated version and a documentary. To celebrate the anniversary here are 10 fun facts you may not know about this ’90s classic.

1Kevin Smith made the film on a shoestring budget funded mostly by the sale of his comic book collection.

CLERK, poster, Kevin Smith (center, and in white hats), Harley Quinn Smith (top left), 2021.

1091 Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Even though this may not come as a shock, the film was incredibly low-budget, and probably a large part of why it is black and white. In addition to his comic book sales, Smith also used credit cards and some insurance money he got for a car he and Jason Mewes lost in a flood? (That seems like a fun story!)

2Kevin Smith’s mom made a cameo.

Smith cast many of his friends in the film, and even had his mom play a character known as Milk Maid.

3Filming was a challenge.

CLERKS, director Kevin Smith, on location, 1994.

Miramax Films /Courtesy Everett Collection

Because Smith was actually an employee of the convenience store featured in Clerks, he had to work there all day before clocking out and using the place as a set at night. (This is why the shutters are closed and it’s dark all the time.) This called for some very long hours on his part!

4The original ending had Dante being shot dead by a robber.

Smith agreed to cut it after it was considered too “dark.”

5Silent Bob was not entirely silent.

He had one line, originally meant to be Jay’s, but Jason Mewes was struggling with it so Smith said it instead. It was: “You know, there’s a million fine looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of ’em just cheat on you.”

6The film was semi-successful in theaters.

CLERKS, Jeff Anderson, Brian O'Halloran, 1994

Everett Collection]

Though it was not critically acclaimed, it did get picked up by Miramax and ended up pulling in $3 million, which was a pretty good profit considering it cost $27,000 to make. Entertainment Weekly listed it as one of the 50 greatest independent films a few years later.

7Jason Reitman was inspired by Clerks to become a filmmaker.

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, Director Jason Reitman, on set, 2006,

Fox Searchlight/Everett Collection

Son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman, who directed Up in the Air and Young Adult, told Smith Clerks was what inspired him to become a filmmaker.

8The film was originally called Inconvenience.

It was then changed to Rude Clerks, then Clerks.

9There is an animated series based on the movie.

CLERKS, (from left): Randal Graves, Jay, Silent Bob, Dante Hicks, 2000-01.

Touchstone Television/Courtesy: Everett Collection

It aired for six episodes in 2000, but was not a hit. The two sequels to Clerks also didn’t do well. It was perhaps a film too unique and too timely to be repeated.

10Clerks is loosely based on the narrative poem The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

This might explain the name of one of the main characters being Dante. Also there are nine breaks in the movie to represent the rings of hell. Clearly, Smith felt working in a convenience store was a bit like being in hell.

Rumor is Kevin Smith is currently writing Jay and Silent Bob 3, meanwhile Clerks is streaming on multiple platforms.

February 2021
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February 2021

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Pop some popcorn and cozy up to feel-good movies and TV shows from a generation ago.

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