Photograph by Andrew Bush
Kevin Smith made a porno—or at least the MPAA thought he did. But with his first movie since Clerks II, the 38-year-old director isn't looking to give you wood, just a few more laughs.
Q: How did you convince the MPAA to change the rating of Zack and Miri Make a Porno from NC-17 to R?
A: For the sex scenes, I cited Taking Lives. I may be the only one to ever cite Taking Lives for anything, but that Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke sex scene on top of a dresser? That was engineered to titillate. There's a lot of thrusting and bared breasts—so it's analogous to our scene, except ours is a comedic take on porno sex. And then I pulled Jackass out in defense of some of the film's egregious bodily fluids.
Q: So it's sexually explicit but also pretty touching. Can you escape comparisons to Judd Apatow?
A: Actually, it kills me when people go "Oh, you're doing an Apatow?" I guess it's an Apatow if you discount Chasing Amy. I'd never suggest that Judd took his cues from us, but we've been making movies since 1997 that are very raunchy but also sweet. On the other hand, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up did prove that you can be filthy and sweet while also making a shitload of money. So that was a big help.
Q: Then there's your next movie, Red State.
A: Yeah. It's a religiously and politically dense horror movie about fundamentalism taken to the extreme. It's so relentlessly bleak that it makes The Dark Knight look like Mamma Mia! Nobody wins, there's no upshot to it, and there's absolutely nobody to root for.
Q: Um, so what will people compare that to?
A: It's Rosemary's Baby mixed with Race With the Devil. And did you ever see that documentary about the raid on David Koresh's compound, Waco: The Rules of Engagement? It's like that, too. David Walters
One of the film's trailers