Silent Bob's better half talks Kevin Smith, comic books, tattoos, and kicking his drug habit.
Actor Jason Mewes is standing in the living room of his Los Angeles home, taking off his shirt. Positioned in front of his laptop's webcam, he shows off the "15 or 16" tattoos he's acquired during his 34 tumultuous years. He lifts his shirt and motions first to an elaborate tribal design on his shoulder. "I got this one in Santa Cruz … and this one in Des Moines," Mewes says. "This one's from when I was 20, and I got this one in Utah after playing a prisoner with all these fake tattoos. The guy was gonna do a solid tribal on me, but I was like, "You know what, I want a face in there. Nothing too happy, though, not like a clown, you know?"
The irony is that Mewes is best known as Jay, the clowning, weed-dealing, cuss-spewing half of Jay and Silent Bob, the stoner movie icons made famous in director Kevin Smith's 1994 indie classic Clerks. The role launched Mewes' career while his real life became jagged, drug-addled, and far from hilarious. Born in New Jersey in 1974, Mewes was an average hockey-and-comicbook- loving high schooler when his friend Smith, three years his senior, mentioned he was writing a movie featuring Jay, a character based on Mewes. Clerks, famously made for just $27,000, became a massive hit, and Mewes went on to reprise the role of Jay in nearly all of Smith's other movies, including Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II (lucky for him, he dodged Jersey Girl), and land roles in little-seen movies such as Feast and Paulie Shore Is Dead. Mewes also developed a full-blown drug addiction. During that time, his mother was diagnosed with AIDS and later succumbed to the disease in 2002. Caught between professional success and personal hell, Mewes would pop up in a movie and then disappear for months. Rumors of his death circulated, and at one point a warrant was issued for his arrest. Now five years into his sobriety, Mewes has a new movie, the Smith-helmed Zack and Miri Make a Porno, that's already generating buzz. Like each of his tattoos, Mewes has a hell of a story to tell.
INKED: What was your very first tattoo?
MEWES: My brother's girlfriend gave me this little dot on my wrist with a pin, some thread, and India ink when I was 12 years old. More than 20 years later, that thing is staying strong.
You also have several tattoos of girls' names, including Jordan, your girlfriend. What if it doesn't work out?
Nah, it's not a big deal. Look, I have "Amy"—an ex—on my neck, and I have "Kat," too. They're all different chapters in my life. Jordan is the only girl I've ever had a real relationship with—we live together, we have a dog, we share bank accounts. She even knows the passwords to my bank accounts. All my other relationships revolved around drinking, drugs, and partying. The only time I think it would be a bummer is if I came home one day and Jordan was getting double-teamed by two big dudes. Would you ever have a tattoo removed or covered up? Oh, hell no. They all have their own stories.