Filmmaker and ubiquitous pop culture geek Kevin Smith suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 47 Sunday night. The always open and honest director posted to social media about the scare:
“After the first show this evening, I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (aka “the Widow-Maker”). If I hadn’t canceled show 2 to go to the hospital, I would’ve died tonight. But for now, I’m still above ground!” said Smith via Twitter.
We here at Monkeys Fighting Robots only wish him the best and are rooting for a speedy recovery. When creators are faced with death they all react differently, and it will be interesting to see what path Smith takes.
Smith’s first film, Clerks was his interpretation of his twenties, Clerks 2 his thirties, and Jersey Girl was about being a father. With all the nerd love Smith gets, he’s never had box office success. He’s made 12 films with an average box office gross of $18 million. The numbers are slightly skewed as his last three films; Red State, Tusk, and Yoga Hosers did not receive a wide release. If you take those out, Smith’s numbers look a little better, averaging about $22.5 million per film. All of the films have turned a profit except Jersey Girl, which only took in $25 million domestic against a bloated $35 million budget (Can we blame Jennifer Lopez and a Will Smith cameo for exploding the expense? Yes!).
In 2010, Smith decided to go outside his comfort zone and direct a film he did not write: Cop Out, aka A Couple of Dicks. This was a low point in his career as he had issues with Bruce Willis, movie critics, and the film was a disaster. Visibly, you could tell Smith was going to a dark place. In March 2010, Smith was kicked off a Southwest flight for being too fat. Having seen him at the Cop Out panel at San Diego Comic-Con International in 2009, his Hall H panel in 2010, and then his ‘An Evening with Kevin Smith’ at the Chicago Theater in the fall of 2010, it was clear his weight gain was massive and his depression was real.
I remember telling a friend after the Chicago show in 2010, we are going to lose him if something doesn’t change.
Things did change. The Comic Book Men after The Walking Dead on AMC was a hit. The podcast industry took off. Smith has started directing TV, and he lost 85 pounds.
Now Smith is at another crossroads after the heart attack. Clint Eastwood is 87-years-old and has 39 directing credits to his name. What are Smith’s next 27 films going to look like? It may have been too big of a burden to come out of the gate with Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy but Mr. Smith, you were our generation’s weird John Hughes.
Mr. Smith, you are on borrowed time now. Take as much time as you want and love your friends and family. Get back in shape, change your diet, get feeling good again. Then create like you’ve never created before. Learn a new appreciation for your craft. There are no guarantees in life, and every time you sit in the director’s chair it could be your last. Get obsessed with life and share your writing and filmmaking gifts with the world.
Work out a deal with whatever streaming service you want (I hear Netflix is hiring), and create an anthology series. Today, there is no need to reach for box office glory with big budget films going directly to your phone. Ride the new wave of creation, and get every story that’s running around in your brain on paper, and then on screen. It could be therapeutic for your new recovery, and your new lease on life could spark an entirely new creative bone in your body you never knew existed.
Whatever the case, we’re all glad that you’re still with us.