From DC and Marvel to Star Wars and Tarantino, Rosario Dawson is considered royalty to fans of genre storytelling. Ahead of her return to the big screen in Kevin Smith’s Clerks III, Dawson credits 2006’s Clerks II as one of a few of projects that made it all possible. After her debut appearance for Frank Miller’s Sin City in 2004, Clerks II gave Dawson another memorable introduction to genre fans at San Diego Comic-Con in 2006, where she forever endeared herself to those in attendance by singing during the film’s Hall H panel, in order to kill time for Smith, who was running late.
Dawson’s Clerks II character, Becky Scott, was visibly pregnant with Dante Hicks’ (Brian O’Halloran) child at the end of the second chapter, so fans are destined to be shocked when they learn the status of their relationship in Clerks III. Bear in mind, a very different version of Clerks III was written years earlier, but Smith’s own brush with death in 2018 prompted the filmmaker to reconceive the entire project.
“Kevin had a version of the [Clerks III] script floating around. He had written it a few years ago, but it ended up not happening, which was devastating. And then he had a widowmaker heart attack; we almost lost him,” Dawson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “He put that whole experience into this [Clerks III], and he brought Becky back in a very controversial way … But it was heartbreaking, and it also just felt really special and important and magical.”
Dawson, who’s close to wrapping season one of her upcoming Star Wars series Ahsoka, is also hoping to reprise her Marvel character, Claire Temple, on Disney+’s upcoming MCU series Daredevil: Born Again, which will consist of 18 episodes. The former night-shift nurse appeared on Marvel Television’s Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and The Defenders, which are now streaming on Disney+, as Netflix’s licensing deal expired.
“Yeah, I’d be super curious, but I’m just so stoked for everybody, though. It’s been a long time coming,” Dawson says. “I was really excited to know that all of our shows are actually part of the MCU now, with Charlie [Cox] and Vincent [D’Onofrio] coming over into these different projects now. So, yeah, 18 episodes [of Daredevil: Born Again]? I’m there! Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, they know where I am.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Dawson also addresses Clerks II’s Anakin Skywalker talk and if it’s ever been brought up to her on a Star Wars set.
Rosario Dawson, welcome back to Leonardo, New Jersey.
Thanks, I’m loving this voice. Do you do voiceover work?
No, but I’m never going to forget this introduction.
I mean, come on. You’ve even got the right setup, too. [Editor’s note: the interview was conducted over Zoom with a podcast mic.]
Thank you. Hopefully, this is being recorded.
So you could’ve easily said that you were too busy saving the galaxy or shooting one of your 16 other projects, but you managed to carve out some time to come back for Kevin Smith and co. Was your return just a matter of loyalty?
Loyalty is very important. That’s why they make so many songs about it. (Laughs.) I’ve been wanting to come back and have Becky explored as a character since we ended Clerks II with her pregnant. I was like, “Where does this story go?” And Kevin had a version of the [Clerks III] script floating around. He had written it a few years ago, but it ended up not happening, which was devastating. And then he had a widowmaker heart attack; we almost lost him. And then a year later, to the date, he commenced filming on Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which I got to be part of. So just to get back with him and the gang again was so, so special. He put that whole experience into this story, and he brought Becky back in a very controversial way, which is not shocking for Kevin, of course. But it was heartbreaking, and it also just felt really special and important and magical. I love that this character became so important over so many years that being brought up to date on the state of things could immediately have such an impact on the storytelling of this film.
The first film was so different from the second. When we were filming [Clerks II], we talked about how people could either really love or hate it because it’s so different. But this third film is such a perfect amalgamation of the two — going from black and white to color and just really mashing the two together — and it’s done again through the lens of this moment and everything we’ve gone through to get here. So it really resonates. It’s poignant. It’s emotional. I was ugly crying at the premiere, and it’s shocking because it’s still just as funny and irreverent and all of those wonderful things. It also has a lot of humanity to it. So Kevin really delivers, as he has all these years, and it’s why he’s made such an impact on this industry. Only Kevin could make such a self-referential film and get away with it.
You’re considered royalty to the Comic-Con crowd and various fandoms such as Star Wars, Marvel and DC. Do you view Clerks II and Sin City as your introduction to these genre fans?
Yeah, definitely. Maybe Kids as well. What I love so much about the comic crowd is that a lot of them are super into indie projects. They love the obscure and the general. They’re not as snobby as they could be about certain things, and it’s because they really care. And that’s what makes someone like Kevin so special. A lot of the people that I got to work with from that era of ‘90s filmmaking are just super nerdy about all of it, so that’s what I love about that world. My uncle [Gustavo Vazquez] is a comic book artist, and I like the details and the care and the passion behind the audience and the creators there. There’s appreciation and support, and that support was embedded into the third Clerks film. It’s about what it means to have people who are there for you and see you, and want you to create and be inspired and be challenged. So I just think that’s so special and so important, and it’s always existed in that community. It has grown in power and influence, and to engage with them in different ways is important. So it’s cool that I’ve had these different ways of keeping that relationship growing over the years, and I’m glad they didn’t kick me out the first time around. (Laughs.)
Didn’t you sing during Clerks II’s Comic-Con panel in order to kill time for a tardy Kevin Smith?
I did! I’m just a corny, super nerdy, around-the-way girl.
In Clerks II, there’s some Anakin Skywalker talk via Kevin Weisman’s character. Has anyone ever brought this up to you during your Star Wars travels or your lunch breaks at Manhattan Beach Studios?
When it comes to the View Askewniverse and the Star Wars universe, nothing comes up. We just don’t talk about any of that, but it’s remarkable that they’re so intertwined and connected.
So the following act is probably grounds for immediate arrest, but when you’re out and about, are people ever bold enough to quote Clerks II to you?
(Laughs.) Oh yeah! I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin started this online, but one of my favorite things are these images of Ashoka that say,” Kids know Rosario Dawson as this today, but I’ll always remember her as …” And it’s usually a frame from either Clerks II or Kids.
The original Clerks came out a year before Kids. Do you think the momentum of Clerks gave Kids a helping hand at all? They obviously have very different tones, but they both consist of raw indie filmmaking and capture a day in the life of people on the East Coast.
At that moment in time, one kept benefiting the other. There was just a massive moment happening in independent film, and those projects impacted audiences, which made it possible for more of those movies to happen. Some of them you couldn’t make today, so it’s just crazy.
I spoke to your pal Natasha Liu Bordizzo the other day, and it sounds like you guys are having the best time on Ahsoka.
Mm-hmm. It was just her birthday! We both had our birthdays on this project, and it’s like we’re having the best birthday present ever in real time. But it’s already getting sad because it’s almost over. Hopefully, we’ll get a sequel! (Dawson holds up a pair of crossed fingers.)
On the subject of Marvel’s Claire Temple, do you feel like you have unfinished business with her?
Oh yeah. For sure. You don’t even see her in that last “tell Claire to go home” moment on Luke Cage. So what is that? You know it’s terrible. So, yeah, I’d be super curious, but I’m just so stoked for everybody, though. It’s been a long time coming. I was really excited to know that all of our shows are actually part of the MCU now, with Charlie [Cox] and Vincent [D’Onofrio] coming over into these different projects now. So, yeah, 18 episodes [of Daredevil: Born Again]? I’m there! Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, they know where I am.
Clerks III opens exclusively in theaters from Sept. 13th – 18th, courtesy of Lionsgate and Fathom Events. This interview was edited for length and clarity.