Brian O'Halloran Talks Kevin Smith and the Clerks 'Toon

Brian O'Halloran: Actor, cult icon and owner of a really piercing gaze.

Actor Brian O’Halloran, best known to moviegoers for his character Dante Hicks in Kevin Smith's Clerks, Clerks II, and the animated TV series with the same name appeared this past weekend at Super Con, a combination comic book and animation convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

O’Halloran first began working in film when he was cast in Kevin Smith's debut film Clerks in 1994. The two became friends and O’Halloran subsequently appeared more of Smith's films, includingMall Rats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, the Clerks animated series (2000-'01), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and of course most recently in a reprise of his Dante Hicks role in 2006's Clerks II.

O’Halloran spent a few months chatting with Newsarama about being part of the Kevin Smith "ensemble", the future of Dante Hicks, and his work outside the Kevin Smith school…

Newsarama: Brian, what is it like working with an icon in the genre community like Kevin Smith?

Brian O’Halloran: You now, working with Kevin Smith, he’s such a great writer and he is in tune with the Clerks type of comedy. He can think right off the top of his head. It is really awesome working with someone that has a likening for his comedic style.

NRAMA: Was Smith open to letting you develop your own character of Dante by the time you got to Clerk’s II?

BO’H: I think we all did by then. The first one was everybody’s first, so the first one was our first opportunity and chance to make a film. We were all newbies, as we would say, a bunch of newts making a film. And Clerks II was Kevin’s eight or ninth film at the time and it was a culmination of all he had learned in all those other films. In his growth and maturity as a person, as a father, and also just questioning where he was in his life now that he was in his 30’s.

I think it is one of his best and I can’t wait to see more of it. So, yes we personally able to do more with our characters.

NRAMA: On that note, do you think there is going to be a return by Smith to the franchise beyond Clerks II?

BO’H: I don’t doubt that there might be a return to the Clerk’s franchise, and in one of the ways there might be an animated version beyond the 'toon one that we did for TV. We did the Clerks cartoon years ago and it’s an effective format that we totally enjoy using. So if we don’t do the live version of it, most likely it will be the animated version.

NRAMA: Recall for fans the events that led up to the TV animated series?

BO’H: The Clerks' toon, the animated series was so great and was so much fun. Kevin was living out in LA and he had Dave Mandel who was one of the producers of Seinfeld come on board. It was to be episodic work. And these four characters Jay, Bob, Dante, and Randal were so great to write about because they could say and do anything. Animation was a way to bring these characters into an outlandish world, situations, and scenarios that only an animated format would allow.

So first they shopped the idea around to people, and UPN was interested immediately and wanted a full season. But the higher ups at Disney (they had distributed the original Clerks under their Miramax label) had found out about the idea and they counter offered, and said ‘look we will do 6 episodes, but on a bigger network.’ With all the coaxing and they gave us a Superbowl ad and everything, they went with that (Miramax Television).

NRAMA: So what’s it like doing a voice characterization for animation and how much different is it from live action?

BO’H: It was a great experience because #1 you go into a studio with a bunch of friends and you start running dialogue left and right. I got to work with some really great people like Michael McKean (as the Creepy Old Guy) and Alec Baldwin playing Leonardo, Leonardo. I mean some really great actors came in to do the voicing stuff, which was really a lot of fun. Each day was such a great day, you would get up, clear your throat … you don’t have to do your hair, don’t have to shower [smirks] … you just get to the studio and record the dialogue and boom you got a paycheck.

NRAMA: Do you see a future of you acting in more animation?

BO’H: I would love to do more animation; it’s a genre that is expanding more and more as we see with the success of Adult Swim for the Cartoon Network. And just the Cartoon Network in general and Comedy Central and you got channels like G4 that are starting to shop around for Anime and things like that. As for the future of animation, I think it will be more of the crossover of traditional anime with more Asian anime. It’s going to be a stronger influence on American entertainment.

NRAMA: Finally Brian, you're in a new film (this one not connected with Kevin Smith) called Cluster a comedy/drama directed by Vincent Scordia. What is your role in the film?

BO’H: Cluster is a film featuring myself, Bronson Pinchot and Corey Feldman. I kind of compare it with an American Pie type of teenage sex romp. I actually play Dr. Jordan, the principal of the high school were a lot of the action takes place. We have the film over at Cannes film festival as we speak trying to get distribution.

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