Back in 2018, Kevin Smith seemed to suggest that there wouldn't be a Clerks 3 at all, because he couldn't get the complete cast together.
At a “Fatman on Batman” Q&A (via CB), he revealed thatJeff Anderson, who played video store clerk Randal and who has mostly turned away from acting since Clerks 2 (and even before that, the majority of his roles were just Randal) and Zack & Miri Make A Porno. That, apparently killed Clerks 3 in its tracks:
“You need four people to make a Clerks movie. For a while, one of the clerks did not want to be involved. I wrote the script, he dug the script, he was just like, ‘Yeah, don’t wanna do it.’ It took me years to get him to a place where, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do this.’ And then it looked like we were moving forward. We had loot for it. $8 million. That was the budget... One of the four main characters did not want to be involved. It quickly spiraled out of control in a big, bad way, and wound up not happening and probably could never happen after the stream of events that hit a wall, and sometimes that’s a wall you can’t get over… So, yeah, sadly, that gets put to the side.”
At the time Smith said he couldn't do it without Anderson, no matter how much he wanted to make a threequel, but Randal's role was just too big and the only way to move forward with it was to have Anderson change his mind.
Now it seems something has changed, because Smith told his Jay & Silent Bob Reboot panel audience at Comic Con that Clerks 3 will be going ahead. Just not as it once would have. He said that while he was proud of the script, it wouldn't be the one they're going to adapt:
"When I wrote Clerks III, I wrote it during a weirder darker point in my life, and it's kind of like the King Lear of our movies. I love it, it's one of my favorite scripts, but it's dark. It's bleak, and it's not what Dante and Randal deserve. We're never going to make that version of Clerks III, but I'm going to write a different ClerksIII and we're going to make that f****** film, I promise. And in a world where we got to bring Ben [Affleck] back, I'll be able to bring Jeff [Anderson] back."
That's a hell of a bold statement, but he has a point. Smith managed to get Affleck back for Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, which is a fairly astonishing feat given the role and his profile now, so Anderson might just be tempted to return. Here's hoping, because he's very important to that old Clerks magic.
And to Smith's credit, he says he owes Anderson and Brian O'Halloran one last movie (despite the latter turning up in Jay & Silent Bob Reboot). Let's hope he gets his way.