We Were Definitely Supposed to Be There Today: Clerks Come to GalaxyCon Richmond

by | Mar 20, 2020 | MAGAZINES & BOOKS

Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson of Clerks were in town for GalaxyCon, and RVA Mag’s Ash Griffith was on hand to ask the question on everyone’s mind: Will there be a Clerks 3? They talked about a bunch of other stuff too.

Of all the weekends to be at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, we were definitely supposed to be there during the weekend of GalaxyCon. While the unofficial theme for the weekend was reunion, as celebrities and creators from many franchises flocked to the convention for the weekend, one reunion in particular was the most anticipated for fans of Kevin Smith’s iconic View Askewniverse film series.

Dante Hicks and Randal Graves of Clerks, aka the film that started it all, made their grand long awaited debut together. Actors Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson (who played Dante and Randal, respectively) were available during the weekend to not only meet fans and take pictures, but also for a very special question and answer panel that Saturday night.

Clerks has been an iconic film in the indie comedy lexicon for a long time. As a matter of fact, it is coming up on 26 years. Last year the film that changed Smith and his friends’ lives forever not only turned 25 years old, it was also inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

“Filmmaker Christopher Downie, who made a biopic about Kevin called ‘Shooting Clerks,’ actually led that effort,” said O’Halloran. “He went on the fanboards of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and mentioned ‘Hey, [the National Film Registry] is taking suggestions,’ and since we are old enough to qualify, he went on this grassroots effort and the fans rallied behind him. We were really the number one [suggested film] of the inductees that year. We are incredibly flattered.”

Rest easy, brigadier, that when we are all underground in our bunker, at least we will have Clerks to keep us entertained in the after days. You can only watch Titanic but so many times.

O’Halloran himself does conventions relatively regularly, but also used to attend them as an ordinary fan when he was younger. While he is always excited to meet the fans of his work, as a fan one of the things that he loves about attending conventions is getting to meet creators from works that he loves as well.

“I like meeting the fans because they keep me sharp, they keep me on my toes about what they loved and what they didn’t love and things like that,” said O’Halloran. “But I also love coming to cons because I get to meet the other casts. I’m very fortunate to have a table to meet fans and stuff, but I used to go to cons as a younger man, and the fact that I get to meet some really great people is awesome. You’ve got people like Barry Bostwick, Brian Blessed, Michael Rooker, and Sean Gunn. I mean, those are the types of things that are really neat.”

Specifically, he praised GalaxyCon itself for their ability to bring in people of a variety of fandoms under one roof, allowing access to a variety of people that otherwise you may not have been able to meet at the same time.

“What’s great about GalaxyCon specifically is they really are good at programming,” said O’Halloran. “They know how to program quite a few guests in a variety of genres, from classic sci-fi kind of shows to the newest web series people are going crazy for. They have tons of programming [including] all kinds of interesting topics of panels, a video game room,  table gaming rooms… They have really taken the time to think about how to take care of the fans.”

One thing that is difficult to miss regardless of whether or not you are a fan of Smith’s work is his tendency to work with a similar rotating cast through his films. While this is, of course, not something unique to his work — directors like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton tend to do this as well — it’s a tactic that works for a reason.

“It’s the familiarity of working together,” said O’Halloran. “It’s that kind of camaraderie. I always tell people, my family never sent me to summer camp, but I assume it would be like going to summer camp. Kids from all different schools, making different projects, and then after four weeks you go home and tell everyone how much fun you had. Kevin is a very chill and low key director on set, [Jason] Mewes is a hilarious riot of fun, and then we all go home. And instead of bracelets we made a film.”

Anderson himself is very new to the convention circuit. In fact, his appearance at GalaxyCon Richmond was his second of all time, the first being at Astronomicon in Michigan a week or two prior. The fact that Clerks is coming up on its 26th anniversary, and how quickly time has gone by, was just as much of a shock for him as it was O’Halloran. 

When asked how it feels to carry Randal with him for so long, his immediate reaction was pure nostalgia. 

“Every time stuff like that comes up, it brings me right back to shooting it,” said Anderson. “We were in this crappy store in Jersey doing this stuff, and reading these filthy words. I never thought anyone would see this movie. I literally thought nobody was going to watch it except for us that were in the movie.”

Of all the places to show the film when it was first released, Anderson recalled the stark contrast of showing it at The MoMA in New York. Imagine a room full of well-dressed people sitting down to watch Randal Graves discuss Dante’s current panic attack over learning that his girlfriend had given 37 blow jobs before meeting him. What kind of hors d’oeuvres do you serve for that exactly? 

With his first convention appearance under his belt, Anderson admitted that he was still a little nervous about his second appearance at at GalaxyCon Richmond. 

“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I know these things go on, and I know Jason and Brian and all these guys do it, and they always talk very highly about it, but I just never worked up the courage to do it.  I have to say I had the best time [at Astronomicon], and I’m really looking forward to GalaxyCon.”

Much like O’Halloran, Anderson was most excited for two things – meeting the fans and meeting the cast of things he’s a fan of, such as AMC’s The Walking Dead

“Meeting people and hearing their perspective of the movie and hearing about their favorite parts, or the first time they saw it is really kind of fun,” said Anderson. “[Also] I wanna do everything Walking Dead. Actually, Michael Rooker who did [Mallrats with Kevin Smith], which I was not in, but he and I are represented by the same person, so I’m looking forward to meeting him.”

Of all of the memories he has of filming with the View Askew team, his favorites surround filming Clerks 2, mostly because he started to feel a little more comfortable in front of the camera. Anderson admits that he is generally more comfortable writing and directing, but for fans who have seen both films — and Randal’s small appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — it’s clear that Anderson made strides in the popular sequel.

“I had a harder time with the original Clerks, because I wasn’t an actor and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing,” said Anderson. “Being in front of the camera was all new and scary to me. Doing Clerks 2 is definitely a little brighter – I felt more comfortable, and we had an amazing time while filming it.”

He laughed while fondly remembering Rosario Dawson bringing back a haul from Target to decorate her room at the Days Inn where they stayed during filming, and playing poker until the late hours of the night. He remembers it feeling like a little community.

In regard to the question that was undoubtedly going to circle around the convention – is Clerks 3 finally a go? Anderson says the answer is a hard yes.

“I’d say it’s going to happen,” laughed Anderson. “I wouldn’t be going to these cons if Clerks 3 wasn’t going to happen, because I’d probably get beat up by the fans. I agreed to do Clerks 3 before going on this con tour. I shouldn’t say it’s most definitely going to happen because things happen, but from where I sit it’s a definite go.”

The seating for the Q&A panel was already starting to fill while the previous panel on the lineup was still in session, would-be audience members quietly sneaking in and grabbing what empty seats they could. The panel room quickly filled once the previous panel was over, excited fans already lining up behind the microphone to ask O’Halloran and Anderson their pressing questions.

Most audience members asked about their favorite memories while filming, many of which happened to center around the filming of Clerks 2. O’Halloran laughed as he recalled asking “the handler [of the donkey during the filming of Clerks 2] what the donkey’s name was, and he said Asphalt. I remember asking, like the road, or…?” [One hopes the pun was intended -ed.]

Other questions included what it was like to work with Smith and most of the other actors who reoccur in the View Askewniverse films. Naturally Clerks 3 was brought up once again, and both O’Halloran and Anderson confirmed that it is a go, and just waiting on Smith to finish up a draft of the script for the cast to look at.

The Q&A also featured a surprise sneak-attack appearance by Jason Mewes, who O’Halloran had earlier picked on for not being in the Clerks Q&A panel. Mewes dropped by just to say hello to the audience, and apparently to pay back O’Halloran. No better time than during a Q&A of course. Other questions dealt with the short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series; I even took a turn to inquire if Anderson believed Randal still held a vendetta against Bea Arthur and the other Golden Girls.

“Absolutely,” Anderson laughed. 

So many questions are in the air, as to what further ground could be covered in a new Clerks sequel that sees the bromance of Dante and Randal exploring life as adults in their forties. Did Dante hire anyone else at the Quick Stop? Has RST finally moved to a streaming service? Will Randal ever get a girlfriend (or a cat)?

Who knows, but regardless, here is to 37 26 more years of laughs and inspiring future filmmakers and storytellers around the world. We’re so glad that you weren’t even supposed to be here today.

Photos by Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash Griffith

Ash is a writer and improviser from Richmond. She has a BA in English from VCU and an associates in Theater. When she isn't writing or screaming on a stage, she can usually be found wherever the coffee is. Bill Murray is her favorite person along with her black cat, Bruce.

more in art

Dispatch From Cuba 2015

I wanted to give a bit of context for this piece. I was introduced to Bill one afternoon at the local watering hole by a mutual friend. Bill, a talented and experienced writer, shared some of his work with me, and I was interested to read more. When I asked if he had...

Richmond Named No. 1 ‘America’s Best Town To Visit’

CNN just crowned Richmond as the No. 1 best town to visit in the U.S. this year. CNN travel editors explored the country, searching for cities full of things to do, loads of personality, and not typically swarming with tourists. Richmond topped the list for several...

Milk River Arts: A Sanctuary of Creativity for Disabled Artists

After the death of his father and his retirement from the military, Aly Costanzo felt lost. That changed when his sister found Milk River Arts. “It gave me a purpose,” Costanzo said. “I really had no purpose. My sister found (founder Sally Kemp) for me, and Sally...

‘VASK8R’ | Starting Over at the Local Roller Rink

The rules are simple: don't get in anyone’s way and try to look good while doing it. The warehouse off Williamsburg Blvd mimics many of the same buildings near the Richmond International Airport. But on Wednesday night, when many of the local businesses have locked...