Kevin and Harley Quinn Smith are a pair of Yoga Hosers.
July 29th 2016
Ron : Kevin, welcome back to Montreal. I couldn’t start this interview without a little present (I hand Kevin a freshly made poutine which through the course of this interview he will eat).
Kevin : Oh man, we were just having a discussion about this because my kid hasn’t had poutine and she’s vegan. Me, I’m not a vegan so I just go right in. As I was walking in I was saying I was hungry so this is perfect. This is my first taste since I landed , buddy so thank you. You softened me up.
Ron : I’m the guy who last year at Montreal Comiccon asked you the first question which was what movie of a super hero would you like to direct and said you hoped you’d enjoy some poutine.,and what’s your favourite Prince song. You took like an hour to answer and then said your favourite Prince song was Raspberry Beret. During your Q&A the Comiccon staff brought you a poutine on stage.
Kevin : (smiling and shaking my hand). I remember that.
Ron : Being here and having worked here what is it that you love about Canada?
Kevin : It started when I was five. My parents took me here to Niagara Falls. My parents honeymooned there and decided to go back a couple of years later, so to get there we had to drive through Montreal and at the time it was Expo. I really feel my father was like “let’s go back to all the places we had f*@%ed in in Canada.” I remember seeing the big flower clock in Montreal. So I fell in love with Canada as a kid. That love continued through with SCTV and Bob and Doug MacKenzie, the NHL of course and Degrassi as well.
From the Toronto Film festival in ’94 with Clerks up until now I must visit Canada at least four times a year. I want to move up here but I can’t afford the income tax. I’d love to just get duel citizenship. Now with that kid Trudeau in office anythings possible. It’s a magical time here.
Ron : Does Johnny Depp share your fascination with Canada?
Kevin : His thing is like “I’ve shot a movie in Quebec so I’m very familiar with the accent. I have an internal dimmer so I can dial it up as much as you want or turn it down as stupid as you want.” I told him we weren’t looking for accuracy it was like a live action cartoon so have as much fun as you want. His inspiration (for the character Guy LaPointe) was obviously Cloussea and Colombo. It was a very Clousombo if you will performance. His character was also the carry over character along with the girls from Tusk. This was kind of like an 80’s cable TV movie. That was the kind of thing I was going for. He seems to dig it here in Canada as well.
Oddly enough we did not step one foot on Canadian soil to shoot this thing. It was shot in Los Angeles. There’s actually scenes set in Montreal but don’t look to try and find the locations because we shot the whole thing in LA.
Hopefully one day I get to shoot up here. I directed an episode of Flash in Vancouver. I’d like to direct one of my movies up here though. I’d like to shot the next film Moosejaws in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. I spoke to some folks up there and we’ve got some money aside in case we get to shoot up there because there’s no tax rebate in the province. Saskatchewan would be a perfect place to shoot it.
Ron : How do you get Johnny Depp to be in your films?
Kevin : I’ve known Johnny for years we’re really good friends. The thing is I was walking my daughter to kindergarten and down the hall I see Johnny Depp walking his daughter, Lilly-Rose. They’re coming right for us. Now I don’t care how big or small you are in Hollywood at some point you sort of get that star struck moment and this was one of them for me. This is just how great a person and actor Johnny Depp is. As he gets right up to me I look at him and say “Captain Jack” without missing a beat Johnny looks at me and says “Silent Bob.” and that was it we’ve been friends ever since. Harley and Lily are like sisters because they’ve grown up together since kindergarten. It’s so bizarre to me because she’ll come home one day and say to me “Dad, why can’t you make pancakes as good as Lily’s dad.” And I’m just like “Johnny Depp makes pancakes?” To her he’s not a big Hollywood star he’s just Lily-Rose’s dad.
When Johnny read the script for Tusk and then Yoga Hosers he was like “yeah I’m gonna do it!” he didn’t even tell his agent about it because I’m sure if his agent read the script for something like Yoga Hosers he’d be like pulling Johnny back.
Ron : It feels like you're going full circle with the film. You started with Clerks in a convenience store now here are the girls in a convenience store.
Kevin : Well, yeah. They were in a convenience store in Tusk that’s the reason why they’re in a convenience store in this. That was the last scene we shot in Tusk was the girls in the convenience store. That wrapped the movie. I would constantly show people that scene with the girls in it. That was my favourite scene. I kept showing it to my wife and she was the first one to pick up on it. She was like “Kevin, don’t you see it? It’s two people working behind a convenience store counter.” I was like “You’re right. It’s girls Clerks isn’t it?” I think that’s why I kinda like it.
When she was growing up I ended up dragging Harley to see movies like Batman, Suoerman, Spider-Man, Iron Man. One day my wife was like “It’s adorable, you think she likes these movies.” I was like “Of course she does. Those movies rule.” She was like “No, she likes them because you like them and she likes going to the movies with her dad. Those movies aren’t for her. What are they about? A bunch of dudes doing heroic things. Take her to see Iron Woman, Bat Woman.” I said “They don’t exist.” She said “Well there’s your problem.” So for years I would look for the kind of movie my wife described. Pitch perfect was one of those kind of movies. I was just looking for a movie where two girls hang out with each other and I couldn’t find it. You can either curse the darkness or light a candle. I am a film maker so for me it was a call to arms to make it. Chase it, follow it through, I can do this as long as I kept the budget low. Who’s it going ti hurt except me and ruin my career but I’ve been doing that since the beginning so…
Ron : It came full circle.
Kevin : Kinda. I used to be real afraid to make whatever I wanted to make then in the middle of my career I got real guarded about it. I have a career I don’t want to f*$%in lose it making safe choices and stuff like that. Now with my career I’m back to square one where I don’t care I just want to see the movie. That’s where my career began. I just wanted to see Clerks, that was it. Now I just make movies I want to see. Making movies where you know you’re an audience of one you can’t be sad when other people don’t follow you across the bridge. You’re saying to people Do you remember 80’s movies like Critters? Well mix that with Strange Brew and some girls and that’s what Yoga Hosers is.
Some people dream about $h*! and let it die. I have the means to do so. Sometimes it’s worth it and this was especially worth it since I got to do it with my kid. You’re leaving it as an example to the kid. You don’t want to be like “Oh I could have done this but I didn’t because I was afraid of what people might say about it. It was like “This is going to be fun.”
Ron : Is it kind of scary now to sort of have any crazy idea and see it through to fruition?
Kevin : It’s amazing. If I had any guts whatsoever I’d could turn to my audience for crowd source financing and they would finance this stuff but I can still get financing in the real world. There’s something so free about not giving a $h*!.
When I was a kid I could convince like two people out of fifty to watch Strange Brew and they were like “it’s okay.” I was like “Are you out of your f*&#ing mind?!.”
At Sundance we had five killer screenings but you wouldn’t know critically because they were like “He’s a f*&#ing idiot!” and I get it, this film isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it makes me think
I’ve got to make something spellbinding to make someone get over themselves you know what I mean? There was one critic who hated Red State and said “I’ll never like a movie of his ever again.” then this same guy saw Tusk and said “I said I’d never like another one of his movies but this is a weird wonderful movie.” You realize the ones that like you have been there for you from the beginning and the ones who hate you well you spend the rest of your life trying to win them back. It’s a bizarre game to play with your career. I’ve had a long enough career now that it’s fun to do $h*! like that. If they ever kick me out of the movies I’ll just go and podcast for the rest of my life. If they kick me out of that I’ll go and do TV for awhile. I get to jump from thing to thing. I diversified my portfolio awhile ago so if people get tired of me in one place I can just give them something more appetizing somewhere else.
Even just doing this press tour with my kid it’s like I have to text her and ask if she’s ready. I never imagined I’d be texting my kid that. I get to spend time with her I’d probably never thought I’d get to spend time with her in my life. This way she gets to see who I really and not just someone’s parent. It’s really sweet that now me and my kid are in a movie. We’re thick as thieves.
Ron : Harley Quinn, do you share your dad’s fascination with Canada?
Harley Quinn : (giggling) I think it’s an interesting fascination. I never really found that many people that are that fascinated with a place. I can totally understand why. It’s awesome along with the food. I know this might sound cliche but I really love the animals. I just think the animals Canada is known for are pretty cute.
Ron : Yoga Hosers is your first starring role in a film.
Harley Quinn : Yeah. My first time on film was when I was in a stroller in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I played baby Silent Bob. I was too young to remember it though. The first time iI remember being on camera was in Clerks 2 for like a second. Then I had a scene that was in Tusk with my friend Lily-Rose Depp. That was the first time I truly acted until now.
Ron : So how was your experience on Yoga Hosers?
Harley Quinn : It was an incredible experience. Very few actors get to say their first movie was spent along side their friends and their family and were practically handed a script that was written for you. I was so lucky to have had that happen so smoothly and i got to choose the majority of the cast which is also wild. The whole thing was like a dream. It is so rare and I was so privileged. It was the most amazing thing that could have happened to me.
Ron : That’s very rare for an actor to choose the cast.
Harley Quinn : Yeah it is very rare. My dad was like “Okay so who’s hot in the teen world right now?” So I was like “uh… Austin Butler from the Carrie Diaries and Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf.” We were watching those shows all the time and really admired their work on those shows and they’re not bad looking men so we went with them. My family watched Veep so getting Tony Hale was awesome. Natasha Lyonne from Orange is the New Black which is another show I’ve been watching for awhile. So yeah it was very rare for me to be able to have a say in the cast. It was such a fun thing to do because we go to choose people we look up to and admire. Just to watch them do what they are so good at and learn from them was such an amazing experience for me to have.
Ron : How close are you and Lily-Rose in real life to the characters you play in this film?
Harley Quinn : I’d say we’re not at all like the characters, however the relationship is similar. We’ve been best friends since we were in kindergarten. So yeah we hang out, laugh and do things together except what the Colleens do which is fight little Bratzis who look like my father.
Since we are not at all like the characters we play we had to go out and find the most annoying habits of teenage girls and put that together. For me I just built an entirely different person because I didn’t want to be playing myself at all. I often compare my character Colleen to Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls but with a lot of annoying teen girl aspects.
Ron : Was acting something you always wanted to do or was there something else?
Harley Quinn : I really didn’t want to act at all. I had a bad experience with a drama teacher and it turned me off of it. Then I found music and played bass guitar for four years. I was dead set on being a bassist in a rock band. Lindsey Way of My Self Indulgence was my ultimate role model and I wanted to be just like her until I filmed that scene in Tusk.
It was supposed to be just a fun thing with my dad directing me, but he really loved it and I caught the acting bug I guess you could say. I loved it so much I started doing it at school again. I got an agent and I’ve been going out on auditions ever since. After I graduate from high school I just really plan to go at it.
Ron : Which of your father’s films is your favourite?
Harley Quinn : I’ve only ever seen two of them which is Mallrats and Tusk. (giggling) I was told a long time ago by family members not to watch my dad’s films because I would be extremely disturbed. I’m 17 now so I kind of know what my dad’s movies are about and I’m sure I’ll get around to watching them one day.
Ron : Since you didn’t plan on acting are there any role models for you in the acting world?
Harley Quinn : There are so many. Definitely watching Margot Robbie’s performance in The Wolf of Wall Street totally changed my life. Just watching the way she fully immersed herself in that role she got every part down. She’s from Australia so she has an Australian accent but she got that cheap New York accent down so well. Watching that movie on the big screen I didn’t know you could transform yourself that much into a character. Since then I’ve pretty much watched every piece of work she’s done.
Beside her I’d probably say the entire cast of Saturday Night Live. I’ve been watching that show since I was super young and that’s what I’ve learned from aside from coaches and my dad. The acting I do is totally based on the performances I’ve seen on Saturday Night Live. It’s where I’ve learned to have good comedic timing. So I owe every single part of my acting to that show.
Ron : It must be weird that you admire Margot Robbie so much and now she’s playing a character based on your name.
Harley Quinn : Yeah it’s pretty weird. I obviously cannot wait to see Suicide Squad.
Ron : Well since you say that I have a little present for you. (I then hand Harley a poster of the film Suicide Squad.)
Harley Quinn : Oh wow! That’s so awesome! I’m going to hang that up on my wall. Thank you so much, that’s so kind.