Jason Mewes*

  Scott Mosier*

  Renée Humphrey*

  Bryan Johnson

  Vincent Pereira
    by Mike McCarthy*
    by Jesse Ray Boehm
    by Nolan Reese

  Brian O'Halloran*

  Ethan Suplee
    by Mike McCarthy*
    20 questions with Ethan

  Brian Lynch
    by Jesse Ray Boehm
    by Jesse Ray Boehm

  Big Helium Dog
   Brian Lynch
   Kevin Crimmins
   Vincent Pereira
   Bill Woods
   Brian Quinn
   Lorene Scafaria

* denotes feature articles by writer Mike McCarthy

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© 1998 View Askew Productions

conducted on June 24, 1998

"They call her Trish the Dish." So said Jason Lee as Brodie in Mallrats.

You laughed and found yourselves intrigued if not entirely captivated by Renee Humphrey's performance as "Little Tricia Jones," the 15-year-old high school senior and author of Bore-gasm: A Study of the Nineties' Male Sexual Prowess.

Bore-gasm, of course, being a non-fictional opus based on her own personal research!

The character was undeniably among the most amusing of the many amusing characters to appear in Kevin Smith's films and Renee's performance was a shining, deliberately hilarious one at that. In the following interview, she tells us what it was like to play Tricia and her many other sexually ambitious characters, among other things. Many other things, actually.

MM: Are you asked about Ben Affleck every other day now?

RH: No. Nobody seems to remember that he . . . invaded me.

MM: How did you come to play Tricia in Mallrats?

RH: Well, I auditioned for it, like everybody. Kevin and I had also been at Sundance. I didn't meet him, but I had a movie called Fun at Sundance the same year Kevin had Clerks there. I guess he had seen it. And I obviously had seen Clerks, so I auditioned and we were fast friends.

MM: How did you hear about the auditions?

RH: Just regularly, through my agent.

MM: What was your audition like?

RH: Hmm . . . What was the audition like? Well, God, it's going back very far here. [Laughs] Um, I remember the final audition. They had everybody come and read and sort of sent some people home and kept other people. I remember I was waiting for a long time. I have a mouth on me--like it doesn't stop even when it should sometimes. I walked into the room finally to read and they were all apologizing. They said, "Oh, we're so sorry to make you wait." And I said, "Oh, what's five hours?!" [Both laugh] I think right there Kevin decided that maybe we'd get along.

MM: He definitely has a thing for sarcasm.

RH: Yes. So, you know, I read for them and then he left the room. Then he came back in and they said, "We'll see you in Minnesota. You got the job." That was nice, to tell right away.

MM: Was it at all unnerving to play Tricia, this young sex expert?

RH: [Laughs] Not really. No. I've played a lot of sexually driven characters in my life. So it was actually kind of fun to play one who, no matter how warped it might be, was taking control of that. Of the sexuality of young girls that we all seem to want. [Both laugh] Or something like that! So, no, it was fun. It was a lot of fun. Plus, because she was so scientific about it, I just kind of felt that way myself.

MM: Also, most of the characters were sort of being made fun of, but she's almost put on a pedestal, as being the more intelligent one.

RH: Right. Right. Which I love. Which is great. [Laughs]

MM: Not so much now, but until Chasing Amy there were some critics who spoke negatively about the way Kevin wrote female characters. Did you have any opinion of that upon reading the Mallrats script and having seen Clerks?

RH: No. Male, female, Kevin's just being funny. That's how I always saw it. No, I never even heard that. I didn't realize that people said that.

MM: I didn't either, actually, until Chasing Amy came out. I spoke with Ben Affleck and he brought that up, something to the effect that some critics used to bash Kevin for the way he wrote females but that they were seeing less of that with Chasing Amy.

RH: Because she was gay? She must be strong--she's gay! [Both laugh]

MM: I don't know. Maybe because she had more development and so forth. But, obviously, he'd only made two films prior to that, so it's not as though he'd made a dozen where the male characters were in the spotlight.

RH: Yeah. And a lot of times he's writing his point of view, which happens to be male, which I think is fine.

MM: A lot of footage, including entire scenes, was cut from Mallrats prior to the theatrical release. Did any of it include you?

RH: There were scenes that were cut?

MM: There was an assassination attempt in the opening . . .

RH: Right, right, right. There was that and there was a scene that I had shot with Sven, the security guard, at the book signing in the end. I really didn't get along with him very well. And we were supposed to be lovers at the end. A kind of gag. There was this last scene where I was supposed to flirt with him and I just couldn't do it. [Laughs] How unprofessional I was, but I was 20 at the time! [Laughs] So whether that was the reason he cut it or whether it just didn't fit into the movie, I'm not sure, but I know that didn't end up in there.

MM: There's talk of a special edition laserdisc to this day.

RH: Oh really?

MM: Perhaps it will appear as one of the bonus scenes.

RH: I don't know . . .

MM: You hope not!

RH: I won't hold my breath!

MM: Did your affiliation with Mallrats seem to cause you any setbacks when it vanished from theatres so quickly?

RH: No. You know, everybody had predicted that it was going to be a hit, so that certainly would have set my career forward more quickly, had that happened, but that . . . No. And, you know, isn't it crazy--it was just ahead of its time. Look at all these high school movies out now.

MM: Yeah. I think some dimwits felt obliged to make negative comments about it for a couple years, but then Chasing Amy came out and they decided Kevin Smith was cool again. Something crazy like that.

RH: People are stupid.

MM: But have you noticed any attitude change from people since Chasing Amy came out? The attitude of people you encounter in the business? Were there people who cringed when you mentioned Mallrats that don't anymore?

RH: No, they still cringe if you say you were in Mallrats. [Laughs] And they say Kevin Smith's cool! [Laughs] But the other people, there are so many who have seen it like, you know, 90 times. But that's always been the case. From the very beginning, right when it went to the video store, it seemed to get this cult following--I usually call it cult just because it's a smaller following--so there's always been those two dynamics. One group of people all around who love it and then there's the people in the business. But the people in the business forget fairly quickly, you know. MM: Their attention spans are so short.

RH: [Laughs] Not that I'm here to bash anybody, but . . . [Laughs] I'm really not, but yeah. So, now everybody knows that Kevin's cool. Good.

MM: When Kevin held Vulgarthon, Mallrats seemed to get the best response from the audience in the theatre I was in. With Clerks, as Kevin said when I spoke to him about the event, so many people have seen it so many times that it's just not funny anymore. It's enjoyable, but you don't really bust a gut laughing. But with Mallrats, people seem to have seen it fewer times. Also, many didn't see it in the theatre with a big group of people and were seeing it in that setting for the first time. I think it's enjoyed more sitting around with a bunch of people than if you watch it at home by yourself.

RH: Absolutely. By yourself, it's kind of like, should I be laughing at this? [Laughs] But when everybody bursts out you know it's OK.

MM: Did you become friends with anybody on the set?

RH: Oh yeah. I became friends with most of them. Most everybody. I see people. I see Ethan a lot. And I see Kevin whenever he's in town. And Jason Mewes and Jason Lee and I did another movie up in Canada.

MM: Drawing Flies.

RH: Right. So, I got to know them fairly well. I'm pretty much friends with everybody. It's a small town here.

MM: Are you asked about Ben Affleck every other day now?

RH: No. Nobody seems to remember that he . . . invaded me. [Both laugh] Not really.

MM: Did you have the vaguest notion at the time that he'd become this big quote unquote star?

RH: Nah. I mean, he always played it like he was, kind of. I really liked his performance in Chasing Amy, so at the premiere I remember thinking this is probably going to do a lot of good. For all of them. And it did it. But, no, the Good Will Hunting thing, that's just amazing. And Kevin had a lot to do with helping them get that to Miramax, too.

MM: How did you become involved with Drawing Flies?

RH: There was this guy Malcolm Ingram, who was writing for Film Threat, and he was on the set of Mallrats the whole time. One day I noticed that he was the only one who laughed when I made a joke. So, I thought, hmm, I like this guy. And we became friends. He had this script and he asked me to do it.

MM: Carmen Lee spoke a little bit about the horrors of filming that movie at Vulgarthon. Are there any horrific moments that come to mind for you?

RH: Oh God, yeah. One night, I think I was the last person to fall asleep. It was five in the morning and suddenly I feel something dripping on my stomach, but I'm not sure what is going on, really, because I'm asleep. And I look up and the ceiling is pouring water down onto my bed, onto me. That's not a common thing for me to wake up to! [Both laugh] My alarm goes off for some reason--I hadn't set it--and then I tried to turn my light on and the bulb burnt out. I run to the hallway and I see the walls are just covered in water. Like sheets of water are streaming down the walls. I tried to wake up Malcolm and he thinks I'm on drugs or something. He's like, "Shut up. Go back to sleep." I don't know if he said shut up, but . . . I realized he's passed out, he's not going to believe me. So I go to Martin, who seemed to be the most responsible of the clan. I knew he would wake up. I go, "Martin, the house is exploding--there's water everywhere!" And there's equipment all over the place. Some pipe had broken. Finally, everybody woke up and the next day we went to go brush our teeth and wash our faces at McDonalds. It was so funny walking in, all scroungy. There's a couple old ladies in the McDonalds bathroom and they stare at us as we wash our faces and brush our teeth. It was amusing.

MM: I remember Carmen saying something about not wanting to step foot in a McDonalds again.

RH: She did? [Laughs] That's a shame. That's funny.

MM: What was it like to go from Mallrats, which had an excessive budget for the sort of movie it was, to an ultra-low budget film like Drawing Flies?

RH: I've done so many films of varying budgets that it doesn't really phase me either way. Your troubles are different, that's all.

MM: You don't have water leaks, I'd guess, on Mallrats.

RH: Right. You don't.

MM: At least not that big.

RH: Not that big. But you have room service bills.

MM: Malcolm's making a new film. I don't recall the title, but I understand Denise Richards has been cast and it's about a bunch of people racing across the Canadian border to warn some people that a pot farm is about to be busted. Something to that effect. Will you be in it?

RH: Well, you know what, he wrote a part for me but then I'm not quite sure what happened. No, I haven't talked to him in a while.

MM: Sorry.

RH: Oh, that's OK. I'm just holding back, saying anything bad, but, you know what, actually, I don't have anything bad to say, really. He's got his movie to make and if he wants to do it that way then he should.

Renée's Works

Cadillac Ranch (1997)
Lover Girl (1997)
Drawing Flies (1996)
Mallrats (1995)
French Kiss (1995)
Cure, The (1995)
Fighting for My Daughter (1995) (TV)
Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
Fun (1994)
Jailbait (1994)

MM: How frequently are you recognized in public at this point?

RH: Oh, not that often. Every now and then.

MM: Is there a certain film or films you're most recognized from?

RH: For Fun and then Mallrats. I seem to have a lot of foreign people that keep sending me letters. From all over the world now, because of the state of the world media, but that more than people in this country. Some guy in Amsterdam is trying to put a website together for me. I'm going to get him in touch with the guy in Malaysia who's got every one of my movies on laserdisc and see what they can come up with.

MM: All actors and actresses accumulate quote unquote die-hard fans who'll see anything they're in, regardless of how big or small their role or what it's about and so forth. In your case, it reaches another extreme because there are obsessive Kevin Smith fans who'll see anything anyone from his films does. How does that impact you?

RH: Good. I want people to see what I do, so that I can keep doing it, so for whatever the reason.

MM: Is it at all freaky to be part of something that people obsess over so much?

RH: No. I mean, if you break it down enough, you could find reasons to be freaked out about it, but if you get involved in this business you have to know that's part of it.

MM: You gave a very strong performance in Fun. How did you approach that character?

RH: First of all, I was pretty young. I was like 18, playing a 15 year old. I knew girls with similar predicaments. I just sort of combined all of the people that I had known who have had difficult childhoods or abusive lives so far. I somehow connected with her. And she was very intelligent and I wanted to explore that, too, how a young girl who's so smart and so fucked deals with her anger.

MM: Was that a disturbing film to make?

RH: Yeah. Yeah, it was. Again, I was so young. Not that things don't resonate when you're young, but they don't quite as much, it seems to me. It was disturbing but also so quick. I mean, we shot it in seven days. I didn't have time to be disturbed because I had to know all my lines. I had to know where I was coming from. And I had to be in her skin.

MM: I heard a rumor that the director sped up the color scenes in the editing process to make the characters appear more manic. Is that true?

RH: Only in the sped up part. There's a whole montage sequence that is clearly sped up. I don't believe that's true except in that section. I don't think so. I seem to remember it as what we did. Unless it's so slight . . . I don't actually know that much about how film works.

MM: You had a scene with Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress. Were you nervous about that?

RH: I was a little nervous. They were so cool though. They kind of alleviated most of the stress, Denzel and Carl Franklin, the director. It was fun. I was more nervous with French Kiss. Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. To see them all staring at me. I was like, "What am I doing here?! I'm only 19! I can't handle this!" [Laughs]

MM: You did those relatively close together, didn't you?

RH: One in February of '94 and the other was in October.

MM: And The Cure was around that point, right?

RH: Yeah, that summer.

MM: How long were you on the set of that one?

RH: The Cure? Oh, a week.

MM: You worked with Brad Renfro in that. Were you shocked to hear that he'd been arrested recently?

RH: I'm shocked right now! I didn't know! What happened?

MM: He was arrested for alleged cocaine and marijuana possession.

RH: You know what though, they throw a kid from wherever he was from--not a very culturally sophisticated place, as I recall--into Hollywood land at age 12--what do you expect? No, I'm not shocked at all. I'm saddened, because I think he's really cool, but, um, it seems to be the way it goes.

MM: Yeah. There are always stories. But I guess in that case there was an actual arrest.

RH: That's too bad. I mean, fortunately, he's a kid and it will all get erased. But the arrest, whatever, it's just too bad that's going on in his life.

MM: There's a film you did that played a festival or two last year called Lover Girl. I haven't heard much about it apart from the fact that you're in it along with Sandra Bernhard, Kristy Swanson and Tara Subkoff. And that it has something to do with a massage parlor. What's the basic plot?

RH: Well, in keeping in theme with my career, it's a group of prostitutes. [Both laugh] Massage parlor girls that . . . To me, the idea was trying to comment on this sort of exploitation movies. B exploitation films. It's a story where the young girl comes looking for her sister and ends up working as a hooker. Basically, without any exploitation. Whether or not that was successful is a choice people can make for themselves.

MM: It played at the Toronto Film Festival, right?

RH: Yeah.

MM: How did that go?

RH: I heard it went well. I was not there.

MM: According to Internet Movie Database, it's now playing in Portugal.

RH: Really?

MM: Yeah. Are there any plans for release here?

RH: I saw Tara the other day and she said she thought it was going to be on HBO.

MM: Allison Anders was an executive producer, correct?

RH: Yes.

MM: Was she present on the set?

RH: No, she was not.

MM: Was it more of a financing sort of thing?

RH: She was there after it was made. I saw it when it went to the L.A. Independent Film Festival. She was there to introduce and everything. She seemed to be very pleased with it.

MM: Do you have any other films in the can awaiting release?

RH: I'm doing something right now called Sex Monster.

MM: Sex Monster?

RH: Just to keep it going. [Both laugh] It's with Mariel Hemmingway, Kevin Pollack, Stephen Baldwin and this guy Mike Binder, who wrote it and is directing and staring in it. He did Indian Summer and Crossing the Bridge and Blankman. It's a comedy. Very, very, very funny. At least the crew is rolling every day. I play an airhead bisexual hairstylist who falls in love with Mariel Hemmingway. The concept is basically a married couple, Mike and Mariel, and Mike is obsessed with the idea of having a threesome. She doesn't really want to, but finally she says OK and they decide on me to be the one to be with them. And she discovers that she really likes girls and starts sleeping with every one she can. That's the basic story. I'm having a really, really good time. I've played a lot of smart girls, and a lot of girls where it really didn't matter if they were smart or stupid, but this girl is particularly stupid and it's a lot of fun for me.

MM: Does the film have a distributor yet or will it go the festival route first?

RH: You know, I'm not sure. I know it's kind of like a love project for Mike and he didn't want to get into making distribution deals or whatever before he's got it in the can. I'm pretty sure that there is not a deal, but I don't know if he plans to have it go to festivals or not.

MM: Anything lined up for after Sex Monster?

RH: Nope. Not yet.

MM: Looking at scripts and so forth?

RH: Yeah. I've got some cool things in the oven. If that's the right expression. I'm not sure.

MM: Do you find that you get a lot of these promiscuous character scripts because of the roles you've done?

RH: You know what? No. I just get hired for them. I have not been typed. It seems to me, that I've played so many different kinds of people that I really don't get one particular kind of role sent to me. I just seem to get hired for sort of strange nymphomaniacs. [Laughs] And I don't really want to look into that. I'll just keep working. No, I've played sweet girls, too. Just not as many. I think I enjoy characters that are extreme in some capacity and extreme sexuality seems to go with that.

MM: I remember reading an interview where an actress said the best characters to play are drug addicts because you get to show the most range.

RH: I think that's entirely dependent on the writing. You can write a wholly three dimensional character who never leaves his house and see all sides of the person, whether they're on drugs or not. Sure, drugs help that just because then the people are very unstable, but I certainly don't think that as a rule, that drug addicts have more range.

MM: Are you proudest of certain films on your resume or certain scenes that were really difficult to pull off?

RH: I'm just proud I'm still alive. [Laughs] I don't know how to answer that, really. I'm just proud to, like, still be doing this. As far as different works, time will tell. I'll be proud when I have a body of work and a place in the world that I've been reaching for. Then I'll think about stuff like that. Right now, I don't really know.

MM: Who, if any, are your favorite actresses? Is there anyone who really inspires you?

RH: I dig Gena Rowlands a lot. I really like the young actresses right now. I like Christina Ricci and I like Natalie Portman. Who else do I like? I'm surprised that I gave you three. I usually can never answer the favorite question, but right now those are who pop to mind.

MM: When did you decide you wanted to be an actress?

RH: I started doing theatre in Northern California when I was six years old. I asked my mom to get me an agent when I was eight. So, kind of in the very beginning.

MM: Wow. And did you actually get an agent when you were eight?

RH: I did. I got an agency called Top Models. We didn't stay there for very long. Then we went and got an agency in the city. In the San Francisco area, it's mostly print work and commercials. That's what I did.

MM: What was your first film role?

RH: Jailbait.

MM: With C. Thomas Howell, right?

RH: Yup.

MM: I saw that one years ago. Vaguely remember it.

RH: Yeah. It's a classic.

MM: How do you kill time on movie sets?

RH: I read. I play cards. And I write poems if someone pisses me off. [Both laugh] So I don't have to make a scene.

MM: Any desire to write screenplays?

RH: I have dabbled in them. Perhaps one day. I work closely with a lot of writers, helping them with characters and stuff. I have written something on my own, but . . . Yeah, maybe one day. Maybe a novel.

MM: What are you reading right now?

RH: I am right now reading Lolita and Dylan Thomas--that's poetry.

MM: Are there any particular directors whom you'd really like to work with?

RH: Milos Forman. So much. That would be great. Who else? Well, Kubrick, of course.

MM: That would be a major time commitment!

RH: [Laughs] Yeah. For the last 10 years of my life! Who else? Steven Soderbergh. I didn't see Out of Sight. I just really like sex, lies and videotape. I'm sure there's many others. Scorsese. The geniuses, that's who I want to work with. I don't know if all these people fall into that category, but most of them do.

MM: Is there a certain sort of role you're looking for? A dream part?

RH: No, I have a few. I have one project I've been trying to get made for a long time that is the closest it's come to that for me in a while. It's an emotional film. It's marketable. It's maybe more cerebral, I don't know. It's suspenseful. It just doesn't seem to be getting financed.They've had a lot of things fall through, but I've been with it for a long time and one of these days I'm going to get it made. So, I actually have that character in my lap right now. Is there another thing? Not really. I sing and dance. I grew up in musical theatre. I'd love to have to open that up inside me again. I'd love to do something where I have to sing and dance.

MM: Perhaps Woody Allen will do another musical.

RH: Yeah, but I'd rather be like a lounge singer. And then do another movie about being a jazz dancer or something. A ballet dancer and have a body double, because I'm not much of a ballerina anymore.

MM: Did you take ballet as a child?

RH: Yeah.

MM: The horror genre is obviously doing extremely well again. Would you do a horror film?

RH: I hate the horror genre, personally. And it's for like silly reasons, maybe. I'm afraid of those things and I don't want to put it out into the universe because I think that, you know, mutilation is bad. [Laughs] So, no, I don't really want to do that.

MM: Gus Van Sant's remaking Psycho--

RH: --That's a little different. I mean, if Gus Van Sant called me up and said he wanted me to play a part in that, I would be lying if I told you I would say no. But Psycho was a really good movie--what's he going to do better?

MM: If you could play any character in a remake of any film, is there a certain character you'd really like to do?

RH: Francis. Jessica Lange did Francis. Francis Farmer. That's the one that pops in my head. Or Gena Rowlands character in Opening Night. Those two would be pretty cool.

MM: What do you think about this current trend where filmmakers are recruiting young actresses from TV shows?

RH: You know, whatever. [Laughs] I think it's a sort of empty, mindless trend that will continue on its empty, mindless way. I am not a big fan of television at all. I think it's responsible for the homogenization of the universe and I find that upsetting. But, you know, it's there and if people are doing it there's obviously a demand for them. Good for them.

MM: You did a made-for-TV movie in 1995, right? Fighting for My Daughter?

RH: It just played again, which was strange. Two weeks ago.

MM: What was that experience like?

RH: It was interesting. The girl was entering blindly into a very dark world. I moved out of my house when I was 16 and I was sort of proud of the fact that I never went anywhere blindly. I always knew what was going on, which, of course, wasn't the case, but I was convinced that it was. At that time, to play a character who's sort of leaving home and entering this world totally blindly and not trying to pretend like she knew any better was kind of difficult for me. To sort of give up the loose hold I had on my strength at the time. It was an emotional thing.

MM: Have you done any other television?

RH: I've done episodic. I did an Afterschool Special. I did The Wonder Years. I did In The Heat of the Night. The Commish. Empty Nest. Yeah, I've done my share. Just really realized that it wasn't . . . Apart from my views on television as a whole, the work wasn't enjoyable. I like making films for some reason.

MM: There's more of a permanency.

RH: Right. And less of a permanency in your life, because you go however many weeks and then it's over. But the feeling is just different, for me.

Write to Renee!

Renee Humphrey
c/o Paul Kohner, Inc.
9300 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 555
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Interviews Askew