Jeff Anderson talks Kevin Smith, ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno,’ and Deacon’s big scene

Lifelong friends and roommates Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are facing hard times and a mountain of debt. When the electricity and plumbing get cut off, they seize upon the idea of making a homegrown porno movie for some quick cash, enlisting the help of their friends.

The two vow that having sex will not ruin their friendship. But as filming begins, what started out as a business proposition between friends turns into something much more.

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” marks the return of writer/director Kevin Smith to the often scatological comedic realm that he has become famous for. For Smith, the display of crude humor with a heart is a trademark.

© Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

© Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is available in stores now on DVD and Blu Ray disc.

Jeff Anderson, a Kevin Smith alum since the beginning of his career, fills the role of Deacon in the film. He has previously appeared in Smith’s movies as the wise-cracking Randall. Anderson took a few minutes to share some experiences on set, including a detailed account of the first testing of the “Shit Cannon.”

M&C: First of all, is this the first movie you’ve been in that didn’t have the standard Kevin Smith cast?

Anderson: Yeah, I mean I did a cameo in Dogma but that’s not really fair because I was only there for one day, so I guess yeah this would be sort of the first time I was in a movie with Kevin where it wasn’t sort of the same players.

M&C: Yeah, was it weird for you at all?

Anderson: You know, it is and it isn’t. It’s sort of misleading to say that it wasn’t with the same people because behind the scenes it was a lot of the same people. Dave Klein, the same cinematographer, and the camera operator, and the sounds people, all that was kind of the same people we used in Clerks II.

So it didn’t feel all that weird, you know, being there, being on the set with Kevin, because it was sort of just like shooting Clerks II with bringing in extra people.

Me, Seth, and Craig and all that. It makes for a friendly sort of set when you bring in those new people they assimilate to it really well.

M&C: Man, I got to ask this as the second question, you probably know what I’m going to ask…

Anderson: I have a feeling I know where this is going, go!

M&C: Is it somewhere in Kevin’s contracts for Kevin’s movies were it says you must be ok with getting shit on? Is that a clause?

Anderson: I believe that is somewhere in there, yes.

M&C: But did you read it carefully and you missed it, or you were fine with it?

Anderson: You know it’s kind of funny, I was reading the script, and I was surprised first of all that Kevin asked me to do the movie and then when he sent it over to me I read through it and I was like alright well I’m this character who’s sort of moves around a lot but doesn’t have a lot to do with anything so it’s going to be easy for me to do, and then when I got to the shit scene I was like, ‘oh cool!’ you know, here I am, I get to do something!

M&C: This is your big moment.

Anderson: Yeah, exactly. I get to do something! And then I didn’t think about it for a while and it wasn’t till we got to set, as soon as I came on set and was sort of meeting people, it was sort of the first thing everybody wanted to talk about. And I was like you know it was funny, I sort of didn’t pay it all that much of attention, maybe I should have because everybody seems really interested in this scene and as we were going through like shooting and stuff it was literally like one of the scenes that we shot of the movie I guess they didn’t want me leaving but as we were getting though it.

It kept being talked about. It first started there were people working on the shit behind the scenes and I was in my hotel one day early in the morning the phone rings and this guy introduces himself on the phone to me and he identifies himself as a scientist who’s working on the shit and he wants to know if I have any food allergies.

That was sort of the first time I thought about the logistics of it, WOW here we are shooting and making a movie and somewhere in this lab this white coated scientist is creating shit, wow they’re really putting effort into this it’s really going to happen, and he was like we’re creating this stuff and I just want to make sure you’re not allergic to any of it, obviously it’s going to go all over you, that was sort of the first realization I had, like “Wow, I still have to film that.”

M&C: And then when you got in and started filming everything was fine?

Anderson: Yeah I mean, working up to it was like it started out, you know I came to the set one day and there was a noticeable buzz around the set and everyone was like Oh my god they tested the shit cannon last night.  And I was like, ‘The shit cannon?!’ and they were like yeah we did a test and I was like, ‘What is the shit cannon?!’ and they sort of didn’t want to talk about it.

I don’t know if Kevin purposely kept that away from me to just sort of keep my mind off it, but I was fascinated by the idea of the shit cannon and the only feedback that I got was that they fired way too much out of the cannon, Katie’s way too small of a girl, so they had to take it down a little bit.

M&C: yeah

Anderson: But just before we filmed it, I think it was the busiest day on the set. Seth’s girlfriend was there, people that had their girlfriends and spouses in Pittsburg the whole time never really came on the set but that day everyone’s significant other was there. 

Just as they were set it up they took me out side and said “Do you want to see a test of the shit cannon? We’re going to test it before we film. You know my curiosity was peaked and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go see this!’ and they used out AD.

He volunteered to have it fired at him, and it was sort of this big long tube of PVC with valves that hooked to this giant tank and it was really kind of funny. And they fired this thing at this guy and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I don’t know what I thought was going to happen or how it was going to go, but I just didn’t pay that much attention to it.

But to actually watch it go, the only thing I could think was, now that I’ve seen how it works I’m not supposed to know it’s going to happen so I have to sort of try and keep my eyes open and that’s the thing that was scaring me, I do not want to ruin a take by actually closing my eyes before it actually hits me.

M&C: Yeah you had your eyes, you had your mouth open, and you got a face full that was really messed up.

Anderson: Yeah it was kind of fucked up. To Kevin’s credit and to the crew’s credit, I’m glad it happened in one take, yeah, it wasn’t one of these things that went on and on.

M&C: Growing up on the north are you into hockey? I know you were introduced in the movie playing hockey and in Clerks you played hockey on the roof, Are you big into that in reality?

Anderson: Not really big into hockey, no.  I’m more of a basketball guy myself. Growing up I know my family had season tickets to the Devils, when the Devils first came to New Jersey, I remember going to the hockey games but for me it was more about the fights than anything else.

M&C: But you do know how to skate though?

Anderson: I do not know how to skate, which is always an issue, every one of Kevin’s movies I’m like “Damn, hockey again?”  I should just learn how to skate but that’s not bad because Seth is from Canada and Seth couldn’t skate.

M&C: oh, yeah

Anderson: So I didn’t feel too bad about it, Kevin I guess always makes me the goalie so I don’t have a lot of skating to do I just have to plant myself there.

M&C: Zach and Miri to me kind of seems like Jersey Girl as far as it’s a little bit different than Kevin’s other movies and that it’s kind of bigger scale, broader story. Do you guys still feel like you’re dicking around, like friends dicking around or it’s evolved out of that?

Anderson: You know, it always still feels like that to me like I didn’t work on Jersey Girl and I’d imagine that had a little different feel to it and even this one kind of did, but like I said using the same crew that we used in Clerks II and when you come to the set you sort of see the same faces so it always feels like you’re dicking around. Just in the parking lot the trailers have gotten bigger.

M&C: Sure.

Anderson: That’s always the biggest thing, it’s always amazing to me the amount of trailers and the amount of trucks and everything else, but doing this, Zach and Miri, like the actual movie and those guys making the porno has a lot of the elements that we did on the actual Clerks like the hockey stick as a boom that’s what we really did for Clerks.

So it was kind of weird being here, yes the scale was bigger, but when you’re on set it’s almost like being on set of Clerks. So even though the scale grows and you walk around and you see the trucks, you’re staying at nice hotels, when you get to set it always feels like you’re going back to the same set. So yes it feels bigger but no it doesn’t, if that’s an answer.

M&C: yeah, yeah that’s definitely an answer, I haven’t gone to the north, like I’ve never gone to Pittsburg  before so I didn’t realize so much was on location, Was it cool for you guys to be on location or did that cause any problems?

Anderson: It’s always fun to be on location because you get a little break from the reality of your life and you hang out at the hotel you’re eating good meals and everything else so it’s always fun to be on location, but Pittsburg was a little challenging.

The weather there because the film was supposed to take place in the winter and you know it would snow there and that would sort of screw up the schedule because they needed snow for certain scenes so it got a little tricky you get phone calls, like many times I would have the day off and at six in the morning the phone would ring, just because it would either snow overnight or it wouldn’t snow overnight it was a little challenging just with the schedule wise.

M&C: Did you and Kevin ever talk about having any similarities between Deacon and Randall? It’s you obviously, so it’s going to be a little similar to Randall, but you probably don’t want to be that character all the time.

Anderson: Yeah, actually I got into that with Kevin he gave me the script and obviously I read the script you know my first scene, I’m a goalie, yelling at the referee, you know that’s me, that’s my voice I can’t make it be any different.

And before we started shooting, Kevin had Seth over in his office and invited me over to his office and wanted to just sit and read with Seth. And that was the first scene that came up and we were just sitting in his office and I’m screaming at it and then after the scene I was like, ‘Kev this just feels weird to me are you sure you want me in this movie? People are going to be, dude that’s the guy from Clerks!’ And Kevin was like; it’s more likely that they’re going to say that’s the guy from any one of Seth’s movies. 

I’m like, “I know, but this voice sounds the same.” It was something I had trouble with; you can’t change your inflection. It didn’t read similar to me and Kevin said, “Dude, that’s what you do. We can’t help it you’re going to be like that guy no matter what so…”

Jeff Anderson as Randal in Clerks II

Jeff Anderson as Randal in Clerks II

M&C: What do you have going on next?

Anderson: You know, I don’t know. I’m sort of in this weird place where I don’t have an agent I don’t have anything, I don’t pursue acting, I have been offered from time to time a bunch of things I usually turn it down but there is a film in May/June that I’m debating doing but I haven’t come to a decision yet.

M&C: Alright, well good deal.

Anderson: Oh well thank you.

M&C: Have a good day!

Anderson: Thanks.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is now available at Amazon. It is available for pre-order at AmazonUK for a March 23rd release. Visit the DVD database for more information.

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