KEVIN SMITH talks FRED PHELPS and RED STATE. “This is how Hitler happened”. Part 1 of Sydney Opera House talk.

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Note: Kevin Smith’s words are in: BLUE.

Note: Offensive language inside.

Film-maker Kevin Smith visited the Sydney Opera house recently (8th and 9th August 2010) and spoke at length about a variety of topics; telling long and entertaining stories. Many we have heard before on Smodcast or previous Q and A’s, but there were a few things that I had not heard him talk at length about before. So I recorded those sections on my iphone during the show for this website.


Over the next week or so I will transcribe Smith talking on a variety of topics, from Twilight: Eclipse, Comic Books, an amazing story about working with the Weinstein Brothers, and a long, long piece of life advice told to an eleven year old boy in attendance, but for now here is Smith talking about his own death, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church and his upcoming film Red State.






The report from my forties is this: I think about death all the time. I went to sleep for about two hours before the show tonight and I had a dream about resting a cell phone on Schecky’s (one of his dogs) head and because of that she died, and the very next scene we were in jail, and I was being executed for the murder of Schecky, and I was like: “God, I’m facing death and sh*t”…and then I got up and I was relieved because I’m like; “thank god, I’m not going to be dead.”

But then at the back of my head… the voice at the back of my head is like “but you’re still going to die one day”, and then I was like: oh my god that dream is kind of how I live my life – always worried for when the needle is coming for me to end my life and sh*t like that, I have so much sh*t to do and not a lot of time to do it in…and people are like: “why don’t you lose weight? That will help” and I’m like “why don’t you chill the fu*k out”.

I just don’t have the time to do it all in. It’s weird I was born in 1970, so I can do round-off math very easily, I was always thinking ‘in the year 2000, I’m going to be 30 years old…so now we are beyond that. We are in year 2010, the future of that: Buck Rogers: Fu*K Rogers. So I think about all that a lot.



When I started writing that (Red State) the wife was like; “hey man, why the fu*k are you doing another fu*king religious picture? They are just going to get pissed off at us again; throw bricks through our window like they did on Dogma.” And she was like; “you can’t, you just can’t, stop dealing with religion”.

And I was like: These people are sooo fu*king fringe.

Number 1)  It’s not based on them at all, they are kind of a jumping off point. and number 2) this isn’t a fu*king religion. The Westboro baptist church: Its 25 fu*king people. Like, it’s not a big Church that we have to be afraid of, they are not into violence as much as they are meticulous. I mean they picket and they sue people all the time. so I was like don’t worry about the family, if anything worry about our wallets. but you don’t even need to worry about that – I don’t even think that’s going to happen because if you see Red State, I don’t think there is anybody in the world that is going to go “that’s based on me!” because it’s fu*king horrible.

I mean, the thing is our villain… Our villain’s name is Aven cooper… and his family, and it’s kind of our very own fringe- extremist and conservative church if you will. And it’s a stepping point for what the whole movie is kind of about:

What happens when conservatism goes to a ridiculous degree, or something like that: where people take judgement into their own hands or something like that. So um, it is not entirely different [to Phelps], but at the same time my wife and family are concerned because they can kind of see [Phelps] in it… but I really just wanted to use it as a jumping-off point more or less.

And it kind of intrigued me; the idea of: people who are so fundamentally religious, that they will say deplorable things…I mean, Fred phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church… for those who don’t know; [Phelps] is the shining individual of the United States; Kansas particularly, who came up with the ‘God Hates‘ slogan, website and movement if you will. That is his claim to fame; that website.

Fred Phelps has a real problem with gay people; in a big bad way. So he essentially came up with this campaign where he maintains, that politically speaking; God will strike down every, quote, unquote: “queer” or “fag” as he says, for having sex with people. They have placards, and they go to funerals…like the first one they went to… it made national headlines; I cant remember his name; the kid who was killed in Wyoming…his name escapes me?…Matt Shepherd.

Matthew Shepherd was killed in Wyoming years ago. It was a hate crime, couple of dudes pulled him in a bar, he went outside with them, thought they were also gay, I don’t know, then they beat the sh*t out of him at a nearby fence, and he died.

Died in wyoming.

Two days later his parents found out that there only son was killed in a hate crime, they decided to bury him, and as they were laying him to rest, Fred phelps and his gang showed up with placards and started picketing the funeral, and the placards they had, said sh*t like: ‘Matthew Shepherd burns in Hell’ and ‘This is what you get for being Gay’ and sh*t like that.

So as these parents were having the worst moment of their lives; putting their only son into the ground, there is Fred Phelps and all these quote/unquote “Christians”, telling them with signs, and they can see, because they are very close, that there son is burning in hell. That summarizes how much of a sick, horrible, individual this man is.

You know he has his belief system, but it’s one thing to not like gays, but it’s another thing to take it to the degrees this guy has. It is just deplorable, he has taken it beyond reason, picketing dudes funerals who died in the Iraq war…He would start going to soldiers funerals and while they are being buried by the families; they are there holding these picket signs that say: “God hates America” and “This is god’s punishment: That’s what you get.”

There is always a talk, a fag talk in there…and they usually have this placard, that looks like you know; the sign in the street of a person crossing, but in a stick figure body. They have one stick figure bent over, and then there is another stick figure fu*king it from behind, and then there is this Ghostbusters ‘NO’ sign through it.

My friend Malcolm Ingram, [film-maker] the dude I talked about earlier. Is gay as the day is long, but very butch about it. Malcolm isn’t swishy, you could never tell he was gay. Most people are like; ‘Malcolm’s gay?!” he comes off as a real butch dude, talks real: ‘Fu*K Baha!”; ‘lets go out and get a beer man!’, ‘Did you see fu*king Avatar? Avatar sucked dude!’. Very fu*king opinionated. He never really comes across..unless he gets really drunk, then he can be a bit of a queen or something, but generally speaking he is kind of butch. Even when he is like “I’m going to suck a dick!’ you are like “just please don’t hit me”.

Malcolm, for [his documentary] Small Town Gay Bar, went to kansas and interviewed Fred Phelps; because Fred Phelps has some kind of tangential involvement with the bar that Malcolm depicted in his documentary. So he spoke to Malcolm and Malcolm put him in the documentary, and it is some of the most fascinating sh*t…because [Phelps] believes everything he says, and he’s not just saying it to be confrontational. He believes in his heart of hearts, that God and Jesus hate us all so much and can’t wait to kill us. You might might be like “I think you are thinking of Darth Vader dude!’

So I was like; Malcolm, how did that interview go? and he said “Well it was pretty weird, we talked for a few hours” and I was like “Get outta here! Can I see the footage?” and he said “Yeah”. He sent me a disc of the raw footage, and I watched it by myself in a dark room, and I don’t mind telling you that it was so unsettling that I had to turn the lights on and sh*t.

I went and brought a few of the dogs in, because he just sits there and talks so calmly, and patricianly, and he is well educated: as a lawyer and sh*t, and he’s calm, rational, everything he was saying wasn’t with slobbering at the mouth. The sh*t he is saying is so fu*king backwards, so filled with hate, you sit there and go ‘This is how Hitler happened’ this guy can sit there and talk, this guy can sit there and snake charm, he doesn’t sound like a maniac, he just lays his points out.

Malcolm talked to the Phelps family as well. Zack Knutson, the guy; the guy in Clerks 2;  the guy who s the mule; he shoots a lot of the documentaries for us;  like he shot the Clerks: Snowball documentary, the fat doco on the clerks disc. The Clerks 2 documentary. The one on the Chasing Amy disc: Tracing Amy. And so for Red State , since I was going to go up to kansas to do a show a few months back, to Zack, I was like ‘hey man, we found out that we are going to get picketed.

All of a sudden there was a notice online that the Phelps family, the Westboro Baptist Church, were going to come and picket my performance. And the reason the gave was that they call me a ‘fag enabler’ and I was like ‘I like that man, I help fags get laid, you know, I enable that sh*t… I’m your pusher man”.

So they labelled me a fag enabler and set out to let me know that I was going to hell; and because of that they are going to be outside the theater picketing me. So Zack was like: “Dude we want to go and shoot footage”, and I said why bother man? I don’t think those pickets are that interesting, I think they are kind of tame and sh*t. But he’s like ‘We’re going out anyway”.

He went out and taped an interview with, I think, Megan Phelps, and afterwards I asked him “how was it?”. And he said ‘It was really sad; they were all just so sweet and really really nice when they talk to you, but they…they just have these talking points, and they will get to them.”

He is going: “We didn’t even talk about you” I was like ‘Really?’ and he was like “yeah, and they know who you are, but their big issue wasn’t with you, they just used you to get outside and talk to the press.” I was like “what do they want to talk to the press about?” and he said “Easter”. I was like “Easter?” and he was like “Yeah, they don’t believe in the Easter Bunny either”. I said “Really?” and he said “Yeah they are really mad about it you know” and I was like “But only kids believe in the Easter bunny” and he was like “But dude, it’s Fred Phelps”.

So yeah, they are a weird bunch and sh*t like that, and it just kept rolling over and over in my mind, I live in a very Gay community; my brother is Gay, married to a guy for 13 years at this point, like I said, he is as gay as the day is long. Me, I always felt that I was one c*ck in the mouth short of being gay myself. So the movie isn’t about [Phelps], but it is inspired from him and those people: That other side. The fu*kfu*king people that want to stop you from being yourself just because they don’t like you, or for some such sh*t.

I don’t know, it just got to me. I saw it as some big problem which got me to writing Red State. It is the meanest, nastiest thing I have ever written in my life. I mean there are a couple of titters in it ,or something like that, but it is just dark and mean and ugly, and nobody…there is not even a like-able character in the bunch…and nobody wins. So it’s kind of like a commentary on America I guess: A little snapshot of this tiny corner of america, that if we are not careful about will infect the entire land, so that’s kind of what I want to do, I wanted to go after it and I needed a guy to play Aven Cooper, who is the main bad guy, the reverend if you will, and I wrote the role of Aven Cooper for a guy named Michael Parks.



From here Smith went on to tell a story about how playing From Dusk Till Dawn in his living room nearly got him arrested by the police. Which I won’t bother typing up as you can see it told almost the same on a recording from the San Diego Comic Con earlier this year, which I have embedded here if you are interested:


continued on in:

Come back to in a few days and you will find some more Kevin Smith at the Sydney Opera House.

For more on Phelps you can visit at:

5 comments on “KEVIN SMITH talks FRED PHELPS and RED STATE. “This is how Hitler happened”. Part 1 of Sydney Opera House talk.
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