Jason Mewes was born to a heroin addicted mother and an
unknown father in Highlands, New Jersey, and was raised by his
aunt through most of his childhood while his mother spent time
in jail. When his mother was out of jail, she would usually
steal credit cards from neighbor's mail boxes in order to fuel
her habit. Using stolen money, she bought Mewes one of the few
Christmas gifts he remembers receiving: a bike. During a brief
period when she acted as a drug dealer, she would send a young
Mewes out on his bike to unwittingly deliver drugs to people she
didn't trust enough to deliver them herself. Jason also has a
fear of small spaces which came from his mother locking him and
his sister in the closet when she wanted to go to parties.
Despite this upbringing, Jason Mewes grew up to be a fairly level-headed, if occasionally offbeat, child, and graduated from high school. He also became the stuff of legend in his hometown of Highlands with rumors that he broke a window at a local pharmacy, or that he had s-- with a dog (neither of which were true).
When Kevin Smith returned to New Jersey to make his new film Chasing Amy starring Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams (and based on his relationship with the latter), he didn't need Jason as much as the two previous films, mainly because the Jay and Silent Bob characters were restricted to one 10-minute scene (in which Smith's Silent Bob character shares much of the dialogue) which was shot over the course of a night. Mewes had memorized all his dialogue and pulled it off without a hitch, while Smith struggled with the large monologue he had written for himself. Unknown to many was that this was the point where Jason's use of cocaine and heroin was beginning.
Chasing Amy was released to stellar reviews and even some awards, and the $12 million gross of the $250,000 film paved the way for Kevin to make Dogma, a script which utilized the Jay and Silent Bob characters more than any previous film. Between the making of the two films, Kevin and Jason attended an AIDS benefit hosted by Harvey Weinstein, the chairman of Miramax. Upon learning that Mewes' mother was HIV positive, he promised to get her to the best doctors in New York, a promise he kept. Soon after this, Kevin opened up his own comic book store, called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Mewes asked if he could work at the store full time and Kevin thought it was a good idea, giving him the run of the place. A few months after the opening of the store, Smith came in several times to find a customer waiting for Jason to return. At times Mewes seemed ill and frequently fell asleep. During the recording of the Chasing Amy laserdisc commentary, Kevin confronted Mewes and asked him about his drug use. After much denial, Mewes finally admited that he was using heroin.
Smith moved Jason out of his mother's house and into his own Red Bank apartment. The night before Mewes started a methadone program, he was so ill from withdrawals, he tearfully begged Kevin for money to buy heroin, which he did. Smith says Mewes still refers to that day as "the day you shook hands with the devil." Mewes then began the methadone program and started to successfully kick his heroin habit and spent more and more time with Kevin, frequently going on trips to find Star Wars dolls at Toys-R-Us to take his mind off things. Mewes started to show even more signs that he was becoming healthy again. After finding out that respected English actor Alan Rickman was going to star in Dogma, Mewes proceeded to memorize not only his lines, but the entire screenplay as well so he "wouldn't piss off that Rickman dude."
While making Dogma, Kevin and producer friend Scott Mosier instructed Jason's new girlfriend, Stephanie, to watch the seven-months-clean Jason for any signs that he had started to use drugs again. To their knowledge, Mewes was clean throughout the shooting of Dogma but they later found out that Stephanie had actually become Mewes' connection for heroin while they were filming in Pittsburgh. Due to the fact that Stephanie was getting paid, and Mewes was getting his biggest paycheck yet, they were able to quietly keep themselves equipped with drugs and not suffer from withdrawal symptoms, while keeping it hidden from the cast and crew. Ironically, Mewes' Dogma performance is considered by many to be one of his best, despite being a heroin addict throughout the shoot. He would even frequently fall asleep while they were filming scenes but Smith, still somewhat naïve on the subject of drug abuse, didn't realize this was a sign that Jason had begun using again.
By this point, Smith had fallen in love with and married Jennifer Schwalbach and she had become pregnant with their daughter and moved into a new house. Jason and Stephanie opted to stay with Jason's mother until Kevin later found out that Mewes had once again slipped into heroin usage. He moved Jason and Stephanie into his own house and decided to get them off heroin, cold turkey. Mewes got into an extremely bad state and took to crying and screaming at Kevin; at one point, he even bashed his head against the wall so much that he drew blood. On another day, when Kevin and Jennifer were having a party in their house, Mewes disappeared to the bathroom for over an hour. Kevin later found out that he was smoking cocaine in the bathroom but, at the time, Jason denied everything so Kevin threw him out of the house, while Stephanie stayed. Mewes would call multiple times every day until Kevin finally gave in and let him stay there again, with even stricter rules than before. Shortly after, when Stephanie's parents called trying to find her, Kevin broke it to them that she had become a drug addict and her parents came to take her away. Realizing what his life had become, Mewes promised Kevin that he would defeat his heroin habit.
Once again, shortly after, Jason Mewes started using heroin
again and Kevin kicked him out. Jason lived with his mother
after this and found himself hooked on a new drug: Oxycontin.
After travelling to both France and England for Dogma-related
events, Kevin moved Jason back into his house in order to quit
the drugs cold turkey. After a month, Mewes was still in pain
but recovering and went with Kevin to L.A. for an awards show.
One night, Mewes managed to take Kevin's ATM card, after telling
him he was going to use it to withdraw money and his taxi fare,
and withdrew $1,100 from it by early morning. He spent most of
the night trying to get drugs to no avail and eventually
returned to his hotel room and trashed it. That day, Kevin and
Scott Mosier put Jason in an L.A.-based rehab center, which he
escaped from. Eventually he was found and put back in once
again, and not allowed to take phone calls for a week. When
Kevin finally spoke to him again, Mewes said the place felt more
like a psychiatric ward, so he was moved to another rehab in
L.A. where he proceeded to get clean.
During this time, Kevin and Jennifer returned to Jersey so Jen could give birth to their daughter, Harley Quinn Smith. A month later, they returned to L.A. where Mewes was now substantially cleaned up and much better to be around. He recorded tracks for the first few episodes of Clerks: The Animated Series and then later returned to New Jersey, where he became a model citizen, refusing all the drugs that were offered to him, and steering clear of his mother's Oxycontin. His one request for the New York premiere of Dogma was that his ex-girlfriend Stephanie be allowed to attend. Kevin agreed but Mewes didn't return for the post-film Q&A or the party, and it was later found out that he had retreated to his hotel room with Stephanie where they had shot up heroin, after being clean for only four months. The next time Smith saw Mewes was at baby Harley's christening, where Jason stayed for only a short while before leaving.
In order to try and get Jason Mewes to quit drugs, Smith told him that he was writing a screenplay for a Jay and Silent Bob feature where Jason would be the lead star, and get a large paycheck. The condition was that Jason get off heroin and Oxycontin. Jason agreed and checked into another rehab clinic.
Seeing him again a month later, Kevin found Jason Mewes much healthier and happier after spending time in a rehab (along with, ironically, friend Ben Affleck). However, when he was at Kevin's house on Thanksgiving of that year, it became clear that Jason had begun using drugs again after someone offered him cocaine at a Q&A in Colorado. He stayed downstairs at Kevin's house and kept saying to Kevin's daughter Harley that he would play with her when she asked, only to disappear again. Angered at Mewes' attitude towards their daughter, Kevin's wife Jennifer told Kevin that she wanted Jason out of the house.
Despite writing a role for him as Arthur Brickan in his new film Jersey Girl, it became clear to Kevin that Jason wouldn't be able to act in the film. He had dropped out of two rehabs that Ben Affleck had paid for, and a bench warrant for his arrest had been issued for him in New Jersey. On the advice of a doctor, Smith began to use a "tough love" technique on his friend, not letting him in his house or letting him see Harley anymore. By this point, Mewes had taken to occasionally living on the streets and had dropped out of the Betty Ford Clinic after only two days. He would occasionally come and see Kevin, who was editing Jersey Girl at the time, and borrow money from him, which he said was for cigarettes but was actually to fuel his continuing drug habit. After a scare when it was said that Mewes had died, he finally checked into another rehab and began to clean himself up again. The no-frills rehab seemed to click and, finally, Jason Mewes began to clean up his life. In late October 2003, Smith and company held a party for fans to celebrate Mewes cleaning up.
After struggling with opiate addiction his entire adult life, in 2003 Mewes finally managed to get clean and stay that way. Coincidentally or not, 2003 was also the year buprenorphine was first introduced to the U.S. market for this purpose, providing opiate addicted patients with a revolutionary new tool to assist in their recovery.
While he is mostly known for acting in films, Jason Mewes also has worked in television. He voiced the role of Jay in the short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series. He, along with Smith, have made appearances on Degrassi: The Next Generation. He appeared in two episodes of a three-part story arc in which he and Smith film a new addition to Smith's New Jersey films entitled Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh? at Degrassi Junior High. They appear again on Degrassi, at the premiere of Jay and Silent Bob go Canadian, Eh? in Canada. Mewes, Smith, and Degrassi star Stacie Mistysyn made the cover of Canadian TV Guide. In 1998 he starred as "Gary Lamb - Ground Activist" in a series of Nike commercials directed by Smith.
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