Director Kevin Smith on Selling Out and Salty Language

04/12/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. - 1 Corinthians 13:11

I'm upstairs at Kevin Smith's house, putting a fresh videotape into my camcorder. We've already shot an hour of interview footage and Smith is attempting to hold a thought in his head while I'm doing the tape swap.

"You know, you caught me at an interesting moment", he says. "I don't have anything to promote and I have a lot on my mind." Even though he's one of the most self-deprecating people you're ever likely to meet, Smith isn't exaggerating. The dude has a lot on his mind.

Thirty-eight years old and admittedly already successful on his own terms beyond his wildest dreams, Kevin Smith is at a crossroads. News leaked last week that he's on tap to direct his first major studio release - Warner Brother's upcoming Bruce Willis / Tracy Morgan starrer A Couple Of Cops. It's also the first film that Smith didn't write the script for, which has already started conjecture among his intense, talkative fan base that it might not count as a 'real' Kevin Smith movie.

That very fan base, forged on Smith's own message boards going back to the mid-1990s, is also very much on Smith's mind lately. Smith has made himself uniquely available to his fans for a long time, which has also made him available to his detractors. He read it all and often would engage, answer and sometimes argue.

Sometime right after the theatrical release last year of Smith's Seth Rogen starrer Zack And Miri Make A Porno, the back and forth with Smith lovers and haters became too much for him. He went through a 'weird period' where he stopped blogging, stopped reading the endless stream of opinion about himself, and dropped 30 pounds.

Then a few weeks ago, Smith resurfaced for a Toronto film festival devoted to his 'Askewiverse" films; the six interconnected movies with interweaving characters and plotlines that includes Smith classics like Clerks and Chasing Amy. Rewatching and discussing the films with an audience seems to have provided Smith with an odd sort of serenity about his decision to move past his comfort zone as a filmmaker and try new things.

So, when word got out last week that Smith was going to be directing what appeared to be to a buddy cop movie with Diehard's Willis and 30 Rock's Morgan, it set small, predictable choruses into motion, with questions about whether he'd sold out, given up, or had run out of ideas. Never mind that the Robb and Marc Cullen script (originally titled A Couple Of Dicks) had been on the infamous 'Black List' of great unproduced screenplays or that Smith had already started stretching last year by directing the pilot for the CW network TV show Reaper or that Smith has worked with both Willis and Morgan before.

As this short excerpt from my interview with Smith shows, even at an early stage of development, Smith is bringing his indie film education at the feet of Miramax's Bob and Harvey Weinstein to the game with him.

Warning: Kevin Smith sometimes uses curse words!

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