14 Running Facts About Chasing Amy
Chasing Amy, the third installment of writer/director Kevin Smith's legendary New Jersey series, starred future Batman Ben Affleck in his first notable lead role (with all due respect to Glory Daze) as Bluntman and Chronic comic book artist Holden McNeil. McNeil falls for another comic book artist, Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams), to the annoyance of his writing partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee). Complicating matters further is the fact that Alyssa is a lesbian. Here are 14 fascinating facts about Chasing Amy, to commemorate its 20th anniversary.
1. ONE OF KEVIN SMITH'S KEY INSPIRATIONS FOR THE MOVIE WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY LAUREN ADAMS.
The inspiration for Chasing Amy came out of Kevin Smith's two-year romantic relationship with its star, Joey Lauren Adams. "The character of Holden is the closest to me I’ve ever written (casting Ben was aesthetically wishful thinking perhaps), and Alyssa is actually my voice of reason that I’d never listen to (I knew what I was doing/feeling was immature, but you just can’t fight City Hall, sometimes)," Smith wrote about the biographical nature of Chasing Amy. He said that Chasing Amy "is me on a slab, laid out for the world to see."
Adams was aware of this. "He didn't really leave New Jersey and ... I had traveled," she said in 2016. "He saw me as more worldly. It just created these insecurities and fights and problems. A lot of the scenes, he would write and give to me, and I knew they were apologies."
2. ACTRESS GUINEVERE TURNER WAS ANOTHER INSPIRATION.
Guinevere Turner starred and co-wrote 1994's Go Fish, which The Advocate called a "sassy, sexy, irreverent lesbian movie." Turner, a lesbian, and Smith became friends, and Smith was admittedly "obsessed" with Turner's former romantic relationship with her Go Fish director Rose Troche. Turner also befriended Clerks producer and co-editor Scott Mosier. Smith wondered what would happen if the two fell in love. He urged Mosier to write a movie about that idea, and when he didn't, Smith did. When he finished his script, he gave it to Turner to proofread.
3. TURNER'S MANAGER DIDN'T WANT HER TO MAKE HER CAMEO.
Turner made a small cameo in the film, despite the advice of her manager, who was worried that his client would ruin her career if she kept playing lesbians. When Turner's manager finally saw the movie at Sundance, he said, “I’m so glad we decided you should do that movie—that’s a great movie!”
4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A PG-13 MOVIE SET IN HIGH SCHOOL.
The studio initially suggested to Smith that he make Chasing Amy as a PG-13 high school movie. Smith thought about it for a time and wrote some scenes. Ethan Suplee was going to play one of the main characters, but then Smith changed his mind. "A week later, I was like, 'No,'" Smith told The A.V. Club. "Then the movie [Mallrats] tanked, and that sealed the deal. It was just like, that's the last movie I make that doesn't have anything on its mind."
5. MIRAMAX WANTED JON STEWART, DAVID SCHWIMMER, AND DREW BARRYMORE TO STAR.
Smith wrote Holden, Banky, and Alyssa with Affleck, Lee, and Adams in mind, but the studio wanted bigger names—so they came to a compromise. Instead of Miramax footing a $2 million budgetwith the actors they wanted, Smith suggested they only pay $250,000, with his actors, and if Bob and Harvey Weinstein liked what they saw, they could buy it for distribution.
6. BEN AFFLECK WAS INVOLVED IN EVERY STEP OF THE WRITING PROCESS.
Smith referred to Mallrats as something that "turned into a $6 million casting call for Chasing Amy." It was on the set of that movie where Smith got to know Affleck, who played Shannon Hamilton. "It was really in hanging out with Ben off camera that I discovered what a charming, insightful, and funny guy he actually is," Smith said. "I saw in him leading man potential."
"He called me up and said, 'Hey, I'm writing this movie about a guy who falls in love with this woman who's gay and I want you to play the guy,'" Affleck recalled. "I said, 'Well, I'd love to.' He sent it to me as he was writing it. It was really nice to be involved from the beginning, for somebody to put that much faith in me."
7. MIRAMAX WANTED SMITH TO "OPEN UP A BIT."
In the original draft of the script, Holden confronts Alyssa about her threesome heterosexual past over dinner in an apartment. Miramax sent a note suggesting to Smith to "open it up a bit." So instead, the confrontation took place at a hockey rink.
8. IT WAS SHOT IN 20 DAYS.
According to Jason Lee, there were four five-day weeks of rehearsal, followed by four five-day weeks of shooting. Lee said it was "one of the smoothest" productions he had ever been a part of.
9. ONE MEMORABLE SCENE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR MALLRATS.
To Smith, Chasing Amy's "Jaws scene," in which Alyssa and Banky compare sex scars, represented "everything that is great about independent film: edgy and smart content that a studio would ax early on in the development stage (and I know whereof I speak—there was a version of this scene in [Mallrats], and the studio made me take it out)."
Another scene—in which Holden and Alyssa talk about true love while playing darts—had originally been written as a conversation between Dante and Randal in Clerks, but Smith lost the notebook he wrote it in and had forgotten about it until finding the notebook again.
10. ALYSSA HAS TWO SISTERS WHO APPEARED IN THE OTHER NEW JERSEY MOVIES.
One of Alyssa Jones' sisters, according to Smith's View Askew Productions' official synopsis of Chasing Amy, is Heather Jones (Kimberly Loughran), the woman in Clerks who asks Rick Derris (Ernest O'Donnell) for a ride to the beach from the Quick Stop. Alyssa's youngest sister is Tricia Jones (Renee Humphrey), the 15-year-old sex book author in Mallrats. Tricia had sex with Affleck's character Shannon Hamilton in the movie. Alyssa, in Chasing Amy, says she had sex with Shannon Hamilton when she was in college.
11. JASON LEE NEEDED SOME TIME TO CHANNEL BANKY.
"There's a moment in Chasing Amy where I do the thing where I bring my fingers together to Ben Affleck, and we shot it kind of early on," Lee told IGN in 2000. "I was basically asking him with my gesture, 'Are you and her going to hook up? What's the deal?' But I don't say anything. I wasn't finding it for some reason, and Kevin pulled me aside and said, 'This movie is more than Mallrats. It's going to require more thinking, and I want you to feel what's going on a little bit more than you had to do with Brodie in Mallrats. This is that kind of acting as well as dialogue acting.' And I thought, 'Wow. OK.' So then I went back in and found that moment through that, by relating to it and doing whatever you do as an actor to find those moments."
12. JASON MEWES WAS REALLY EATING SUGAR WHILE SILENT BOB MADE HIS SPEECH.
"There was a scene cut out of Clerks," Jason Mewes (Jay) explained. "Remember Kevin [Smith] bought a box of sugar? Well, he bought a box of sugar then I was eating sugar in Clerks. But they cut that out. So, I was like, 'I'm just sitting there doing nothing. What should I do?' He was like, 'I don't know.' I was like, 'How about the sugar?' And he was like, 'Yeah, do the sugar. It'll make up for when we did it in Clerks.' So then I did that." That scene needed "11 or 12" takes, in Mewes' estimation. "Yeah, I ate lots of sugar."
Affleck shrugged it off when a reporter said the sugar eating distracted him from the important scene. "Gave him something to do in the scene, I guess. It is kind of nasty. I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of refined sugar.'"
13. AFFLECK WASN'T READY TO SHOW IT TO ALL OF HIS FAMILY.
"It may alienate some people," Affleck believed. "My mother's best friend said she felt generationally challenged. This is not a movie I would particularly want my grandparents to see. The irony is that nobody has sex on camera and nobody gets killed. You have a movie with people talking the entire time. Yet, there's definitely a segment of the population that will find it just ... bothersome."
14. SMITH WAS MOST SURPRISED BY JOEY LAUREN ADAMS' PERFORMANCE.
"I mean, God, I know the girl personally very, very well, and in the two years we've been dating I've never, ever heard her be emotionally vocal," Smith told The A.V. Club. "The girl doesn't yell. If we fight, she doesn't yell. So when I watch that scene outside the hockey rink, and she's launching into her tirade, that is such a performance, because that's not her."