Onward and Upward with Jason Mewes

By Seth Ferranti 06/09/15

The chatty half of Jay and Silent Bob has a slew of new movies coming up, largely thanks to his newfound sobriety. Seth Ferranti reports.

Seth Ferranti and Jason Mewes
via Author

Jason Mewes is a pop culture icon. From Clerks to Mallrats to Chasing Amy to Dogma, he has been a feature in all of Kevin Smith’s films. As the more vocal half in the Jay and Silent Bob partnership, he has come to define the fast-talking and all imaginative stoner who stole the spotlight in every scene he was in. He is a 20-year film veteran and now has 81 acting credits in his filmography. Besides acting, he has voiced cartoons, video games and animated shorts. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has gone down as a cult favorite in cinema and Jason’s first movie, Clerks, set the standard for independently produced films. He is now out on the road continuing the successful podcast he started with Kevin Smith called Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. With several movies and projects in the works, he is a busy, busy man.

My 30s is when all this started happening, the normalcy for me. And the drugs just really hindered that. I was on a good path at 20 years old and then I tried drugs. 

From comic cons to podcasts to Hollywood productions, Jason keeps himself occupied by pursuing his artistic ambitions and maintaining his sobriety. The actor, who is very honest and open about his struggles with drugs, knows that when boredom sets in the cravings come. And even though Jason made his name as an actor playing a stereotypical stoner, he is clean and sober today. He took time out of his schedule at the Wizard World Comic Con in St. Louis to speak with The Fix and give us the 411 on what is going on in his life, his career, maintaining his sobriety, his new Mewes Juice vapor, and what it has been like for him to go from working jobs he didn’t like to being a Hollywood actor.

What's up with the Jay and Silent Bob podcast?

We’ve been doing the podcast now for almost four years. We probably have like 160 episodes now. We mainly do the show live. We’ve done a couple of home shows because we didn’t have any scheduled on the road or live for a couple of months and we wanted to try and fill those holes. It's been awesome, it's been cool. Kevin and I have toured all over with it. We’ve gone to London, Australia, and Scotland, and Ireland, and all over the place. It's just been a lot of fun. We talk about us being friends and shooting movies together and my sobriety and all that good stuff. It's been really cool, it's been helpful for me. I’ve heard a couple of times, and a few people have actually come up and told me that they had trouble staying sober, or their cousin, or brother and they had them listen to the podcast and it's helped them stay sober now for say nine months, or eight months, or what have you. That's something that I didn’t even expect, and to me it's just real sweet to be able to share my story and have one person stay sober because of it. It also helps me stay sober. It's a good thing. Today, I actually heard that this gentleman who is a drug and alcohol counselor uses the podcast and my story as a teaching tool for his counseling. He’ll be like, "Look, this person was able to do it so you can, too." 

You are getting into the vapor juice business?

Mewes Juice is some vapor. We got five flavors. Trying to quit smoking there's like that whole habit of the mouthpiece and the nicotine. To me, it started as that. Buying those cheap little $5 e-cigarettes from the 7-11. They started coming out with all the different ones and I tried a bunch of different ones and trying to get those flavors down was a pain in the butt so I wanted to find a watermelon and there's like 40-50 different types of watermelon, that's a lot of watermelon, so I just wanted to create my own. I’m a big fan of Red Bull, I’m a big fan of coffee. I drink a lot of coffee because I’m sober. And I feel like it sort of fills it up for me. We have about five different flavors and I got together with some guys and it's just another plate to spin. That's Kevin’s terminology, he says try to spin as many plates as possible. I just keep busy and work as much as I can—doing the podcasts and doing the conventions where I sit and get to meet the people. I don’t call them fans because fans is a weird word for me. I get to meet people who want to come up and get a picture, or autograph, and fun stuff. I meet a lot of interesting people. I am taking meetings and doing auditions and I want to direct. I feel like the Mewes Juice and vaporizers was just another cool thing that I could get behind.

What is up with Clerks 3?

Clerks 3 is now being pushed. It's a bummer, we had it all planned and put together, we were moving forward. We had the money and finances. It just got pushed right now because one of the main characters, his schedule is just, he has a lot of things going on. He can’t do it when we were planning to shoot. That is being pushed aside right now and we are moving over and we are going to be doing Mallrats 2, which is MallBrats. We will be shooting that in October, if everything goes as planned. 

Looking back, what has your career been like?

It's been pretty crazy. It's been surreal. That's the word that seems to describe it. Because it still is surreal to me. It's like it's still crazy that we’ll do these podcasts and people will come out and we’ll get 1500-2000 seaters. People come out and they listen to Kevin and I sit up on stage and tell stories and talk. It's not something I planned; I was roofing. I graduated high school and I started roofing, moving furniture, and delivering pizzas. Jobs I wasn’t very happy with and Kevin’s like, "Oh, I think you’re funny," and he wrote me into Clerks and I went back to work because it was just this little independent film. Then we shot Mallrats and that was the first studio movie. I did another independent movie right after that and that was when I was like, "Maybe, this is something I can do."

In retrospect, if you could give the young Jason Mewes some advice what would you say? 

Right around 21 is when I tried opioids for the first time. It's in my family, I was born addicted to heroin. My mom was a heroin addict. My sister is a drug addict, my brother is a drug addict. It's in the blood and in the genes. I didn’t like it at first, drugs in high school. I drank a little bit. Smoked some weed. I smoked a lot of weed and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with weed. Still don’t. I tried the opioids when I knew it was bad news. At that point, I had done Clerks, Mallrats, and Drawing Flies which is an independent film, and Chasing Amy. That's what I wanted to do at that point and I feel like the drugs really hindered me.

It was like getting married—I always wanted to get married and have a family and I just had my first baby on April 1 of this year. My wife and I have been married almost eight years. But just that whole scenario I’m talking about—owning a house, leasing a car and having credit cards—all just normal sort of stuff that I wanted for years, I didn’t have until I was almost 40 years old. I just got my house and I wasn’t able to start leasing nice cars, because you need good credit and credit cards. That didn’t happen till like seven or eight years ago. My 30s is when all this started happening, the normalcy for me. And the drugs just really hindered that. I was on a good path at 20 years old and then I tried drugs. 

Any regrets?

If I could go back, I would definitely tell myself not to do drugs. Even though I knew not to. I would have told myself on that 21st birthday, "Hey bud, you already know your family history, it's not just gonna be this one time for your birthday and with this girl that you’re hanging with [who] does it and you thought it would be nice to try it out." I could have definitely just focused more on my career and trying to get myself secure and put myself in a normal place and not do drugs. That is something I would definitely tell myself. But the whole 20 years has been surreal. I’ve been able to do movies and work with Kevin and not have to do, or go back to roofing, or delivering pizzas, or moving furniture. These are jobs I had. And again there's nothing wrong with those jobs but I am just saying I love what I do and at that point I didn’t love what I did. I just did those jobs to get up and work. It's pretty awesome that I get to come to these conventions and tour with my podcast and make up my own Mewes Juice and Vapor. It's been a blast. 

How do you maintain your sobriety?

To me, it's really just about being honest and surrounding myself with people. It's like everyone I hang with is pretty much sober or a normie, and the normie is someone who can smoke a little weed, or drink alcohol and not want to keep doing it the next day and the next day and stay up all night and do it. So being around people that I can just be honest about it, and talk about it, that was something I didn’t do. I didn’t want to share with people, or let people know, even though people did know. In my head, and being all messed up, I thought people didn’t know because I thought it would mess up my chances of working. Again, it was obvious, I was like 140 pounds and I was a mess, but everyday the podcast is a big help. Surrounding myself with people that are good and just being honest with myself. 

Is it really a day-by-day process?

It's something as simple as like last week—we were at a convention and someone was like "Hey man, how's your baby? Congrats," and I was like "She's great, it's been amazing," and he was like "I’m going to get an eight ball you want to get in on it?" I just thought that was the weirdest, foolish thing. Like "Hey man, how's your baby? You’re doing good but you want to do an eight ball?" My point in telling that story is right away I went and told my buddy, "Hey this dude just offered it to me and I was like, 'How weird.'" I have just found that me talking about it and getting it out there helps me because I already told on myself. So even if I do have a craving, or the drug addict in me for a millisecond is like "Oh, but can I get away with it? How am I gonna feel? Can I do it just one night? And I won't do it the next day?" With cravings and spinning out of control, that's like the really quick thought, but I definitely feel like going right away to tell my buddy, and call my wife and tell her what happened, and that is a big change in what I used to do, and it helps because I’m like, I already just told on myself, so I know that these people are going to be on the lookout for any different signs in me not being how I normally am. 

How does the podcast affect your sobriety?

I just feel like that has been a big difference for me being honest with everyone who listens to the podcast. I’ve been really accountable. I go into a Starbucks and someone will be like, "Hey man, I listen to your podcast. How many days do you have sober?" I’m literally accountable to all these people and out of the blue someone could ask me. I would hate to disappoint the people who sit and listen and they’re supporting me and the people that are staying clean because they are listening to the podcast. They are inspired by me. And disappointing my wife, my friends, and my new baby, of course.

One last question, how many days have you been clean and sober?

1785 days today!

Seth Ferranti has been a regular contributor to The Fix since 2012. He most recently wrote about his relapse. He also writes for Vice. He has a book out—The Supreme Team.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.