Some habits are hard to kick. Just ask Jay and Silent Bob actor Jason Mewes. He has spent the bulk of his life famously trying to kick his drug and alcohol habits. The battle has been tough, fraught with many a relapse, but Mewes may have finally turned the corner.
A ROUGH CHILDHOOD
Even though Jason Mewes was born into addiction, it took him a long time before he even took his first drink. His addiction can be traced back to his mother, a heroin user who eventually died of AIDS. Mewes never knew his father and was mainly raised by his aunt while, according to childhood and adulthood pal filmmaker Kevin Smith, “his mother fed her jones or spent years in jail.”
Mewes’ mother would steal credit cards from neighbors’ mailboxes. The result: one of the only gifts Jason Mewes recalls receiving for Christmas: a bike. Of course, there was a reason for his mothers’ drug-fueled madness. She made young Mewes her unwitting bagman to deliver drugs around the neighborhood to the addicts she couldn’t trust enough to deal with herself.
Somehow though, the young Jason Mewes was the complete opposite, probably based on seeing the horrific effect it had on his mother. His “jones” didn’t begin until he was out of high school.
WHEN JAY MET BOB
Jason Mewes met Kevin Smith while Mewes was still in school and more importantly, a minor. Their first meeting was a trip together to a comic book show with a couple of friends where Smith refused to drive a minor (Jason Mewes) over state lines (they were from New Jersey while the comic book show was in New York). Smith recalled not liking the kid at all. His friends had railed on and on at how funny “the kid” was but upon meeting him, Smith thought, “He ain’t so funny.”
It wouldn’t take long for Kevin Smith to change his mind about Jason Mewes as Mewes’ antics began to grow on him. Though it took some time to gain a true liking.
Smith recalled in his Silent Bob Speaks article, Me and My Shadow, Part I, that Jason Mewes would just show up on his doorstep, wanting to know what they were doing that particular day, “‘What’s up?’ I’d ask. ‘What’re we doing today?’ he’d anxiously inquire. ‘Look, man – we’re not friends,’ I’d tell him. ‘You’re friends with my friends. We don’t hang out together, you and I. We hang out as a group with Bry and Walt. Get it?’ ‘Right, right…’ Mewes would respond, seeming to understand, then quickly add ‘So what’re we doing today?'”
As Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes began to hang out more often, drugs and alcohol were not in the picture. Smith said young Mewes described himself as “straight-edge”, which meant “no booze, no drugs, and no chicks.”
Kevin Smith went away for about six months to Vancouver Film School but after dropping out and coming home, he found Jason Mewes was a changed young man. Gone was the innocent “straight-edge” and in his place was a wild child. Lots of booze, lots of weed, and lots of chicks.
JASON MEWES AS A CULT HERO
Jason Mewes’s constant shenanigans got Kevin Smith thinking. Smith was always amazed at how consistently funny he thought Mewes was, so he’d always tell him: “Someone should put you in a movie, man.” That someone would eventually be Kevin Smith himself. Clerks was written and filmed in 1994 with the part of Jay written specifically based on Jason Mewes.
At first, Jason Mewes didn’t think he could pull off the role, he had never acted, been on stage, nothing of the sort. So Smith taught Jason Mewes how to be himself, just on camera. For Smith’s part, he wrote a role for himself that had plenty of dialogue but as he was going through Jason Mewes’ dialogue, Smith realized he himself probably couldn’t pull off the dialogue he wrote. So instead, he came up with a new character named Jay and gave him to Jason Mewes. Thus, Jay and Silent Bob were born.
Jason Mewes has played Jay in the movies a number of times. He has appeared in the Kevin Smith movies Clerks, Clerks II, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, as well as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. His voice was heard as Jay in the animated TV series’ Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi, and Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie.
But Jason Mewes has also made other cameo appearances as Jay in non-Kevin Smith projects such as Scream 3, Pauly Shore is Dead, The Flash, and Madness in the Method (which he even directed). And for the bulk of all these parts, Jason Mewes was a drug addict to the nth degree.
JASON MEWES AND DRUGS
Jason Mewes’s struggle with drug addiction is well documented. The number of times he’s been in and out of rehab is too many to count now. The fact that through it all, especially the low lows, Kevin Smith has remained such a good friend and stood by Mewes all along the way is a testament to their friendship.
Heroin was the drug of choice for Jason Mewes. It took over his life early in his acting career and was a constant pull towards certain death. Mewes was beginning to live the life of his on-screen persona and it was slowly killing him. His early start with pot and beer quickly morphed to heroin, cocaine, and crack.
He would get to the set high; he would perform high. He would drive a hundred plus miles, up to six times a day, to get his heroin fix. He would be in and out of legal trouble. It got to the point where even Kevin Smith finally had enough of Jason Mewes troubles and during the pre-production of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith pulled the plug on the movie. He finally told Mewes per Looper, “You can do all the fucking dope you want now, because we’re stopping the movie.”
The drugs took a physical toll on Jason Mewes. It was so bad, that at one point his teeth were rotting out. This accounts for his new, bright white look. Mewes has never officially confirmed that his white smile is the result of bad teeth replaced, but there is proof in the pudding. Smile, Jason!
JASON MEWES GOES TO REHAB
It took years for Jason Mewes to finally get the help he needed. Not that he hadn’t already been in rehab a number of times, per Smith’s urging and help. Jason Mewes recalls a specific incident that finally got him where he needed to go, an incident where he woke up from a heroin-infused sleep on fire. Seems the actor left a candle burning too close to his couch and poof. Mewes had an arrest warrant out for missing a court appearance so he finally decided now was the time.
He drove to New Jersey, turned himself in, and was given the choice: a year in jail or six months in rehab. He chose to go to rehab and this time it stuck. For four years. “I had four and a half years almost, and then I relapsed,” Jason Mewes said. “And that was only because, it’s not even like I went out and chased it. I had gotten hurt, and I got a shot of Demerol for the pain, and that sparked the whole thing back. ‘Oh, I remember that feeling and I miss it.’ I relapsed again, and Kevin was like, ‘You were doing so well. You had over four years. What happened?’ I said, ‘Look, I don’t think I was sharing what was going on. When I felt that shot of Demerol and was feeling good, I didn’t talk to someone. Like whoa, I’m scared. I felt that and I want to go back to that and stuff. And I wasn’t accountable to anybody or talking to anyone.'”
This time, he not only had Kevin Smith’s help, but he was also newly married. His wife, Jordan Monsanto helped tremendously, but it was a very unconventional idea that truly kept Jason Mewes on the straight and narrow.
JAY AND SILENT BOB GET OLD
Credit Jason Mewes for broaching the subject and credit his best friend Smith for taking him up on it. “I wanted to do a podcast,” Mewes said. “And [Kevin] was like, ‘What do you want to do a podcast about? Is it about movies, about games, what?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘Why don’t we talk about what you’re thinking every day, and this way you’re accountable to people who are listening and watching and stuff.'”
It has worked. Since 2010, Jason Mewes has maintained his sobriety. He has been able to speak candidly on his troubles with drugs, his troubles with the law, his new-found sobriety, his wife, his child (who is now five-years-old), and his movie career. The pair have used their podcast, Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, to tour not only the United States but overseas. And in another surprising development in Jason Mewes’ sobriety, he and Smith also run a cannabis store called Jay and Silent Bob’s Private Stash.
Jason Mewes has come a long way. His struggle will be forever, but he seems to have good people and a best friend squarely in his corner. Mewes will next be heard in the animated reboot of He-Man called Masters of the Universe: Revelation and, believe it or not, there is an already announced Clerks III on the way plus a possible Mallrats 2. Jason Mewes will be in them both, assuming he continues to stay sober.