How Kevin Smith and Harley Quinn Smith Became the Coolest Father-Daughter Duo in Hollywood

In an exclusive interview with E! News, director Kevin Smith and actress and podcaster Harley Quinn Smith opened up about their unique bond and working together.

By Tierney Bricker, Spencer Lubitz Jun 20, 2021 4:00 PMTags
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Most 21-year-olds would rather be out with their friends, hitting up a club or doing almost anything other than co-host a podcast with their father. Then again, most young adults don't call Kevin Smith dad.

The director, known for cult films such as Clerks, Mallrats and Jay & Silent Bob, is undeniably cool. But his daughter Harley Quinn Smith might be even cooler...just ask her dad, who couldn't help but gush over the recent success of her Freeform series Cruel Summer.

"She's amazing," Kevin told E! News in a recent Zoom interview alongside Harley. "When the show became real buzzy and everybody's talking about it, my Twitter feed stopped being about me and started being about her."

But, being a parent, the filmmaker was admittedly excited about the show's success for another, slightly more selfish, reason.

"Cruel Summer was a great gift in this house because suddenly she had financial autonomy and stuff and now we're in a world where I'm like, 'Can I have some money?" he joked. "Because she makes more than I do!"

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"I'm very happy for her," the proud dad continued. "I mean to see somebody get financial independence is great, but also to see her get creatively inspired when the show ended, she was just crying. So when you see your kids swept up in the arts like that means everything, especially being an artsy fartsy kid myself."

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Like father, like daughter it seems as Harley has followed in Kevin's footsteps, carving out a unique career as an actress, musician and podcast host. She also, incidentally, got her start appearing in her dad's movies—including Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II and Yoga Hosers—before becoming his collaborator.

The duo are currently co-writing a series and though they remained tight-lipped when it came to to the details of the project, they were more than happy to discuss working together.


"It's such a cool gift to be able to work with somebody you're related to," Harley said. "We have pretty similar minds, so it's kind of like you're shooting with another version of yourself. It's so much fun and we're working on another thing together now which has been, in my opinion, the most fun yet, and I can't wait for us to be able to share with the world what that is."

Kevin reflected on the rare journey of going from asking his daughter to audition for his movies to writing and pitching a project with her. 

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"We've been writing together which is so much fun because that's make pretend, right? Like I used to make pretend with her when she was a kid," he explained. "Now she's an adult and you rarely get to do that. But in this way we can, because it's the same thing, you sit around go, 'What if they did this, what if this happened, what if this happened,?' So you get to play again, which is a rare gift for a parent now. I thought those days were long behind me, You know she's acted with me, but writing with her it's been this whole incredible different experience than that I've absolutely adored because it is like getting to play all over again."

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And the shift in their working relationship has been smooth, with Harley saying, "It's crazy because he'll say something and I'll finish a sentence and then he'll be like, 'Yes! Or I'll say something that he's thinking and he'll be like, 'high-five!' And that's it, we're just good creative partners because we have the same brain."

In case it wasn't clear by now, Kevin and Harley get along, playing off each other more like friends than a father and daughter.

"Somebody asked me about being an only child the other day and I was like, 'Well honestly, my dad really took the place of being my sibling,'" Harley shared. "He played video games with me, took me to arcades to get enough tickets to win a bubblegum dispensary machine. We would just always do fun stuff together and we still do so. He's just like my friend, my pal."

For Kevin, that's how he always envisioned he'd be as a father, saying he "rolled a tear" when Harley once told him he felt more like a "really rich cool older brother."

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After meeting when she interviewed him for USA Today, Kevin married Jennifer Schwalbach Smith in 1999 and the couple welcomed Harley later that same year. (Yes, she's named after the iconic DC Comics character.) 

"I never felt like truly comfortable being somebody's father, particularly because like me and Jen we became parents, young, like we were still in our 20s, but like still kids," Kevin admitted. "I've worked in the make-believe business, so I never had to grow up. I've been making film since I was 22. So, suddenly somebody's like, 'Here, here's your kid, you're responsible now.' Everything I've done in my life is to avoid responsibility, there's no way I'm prepared for this. So I never really fancied myself like the person that could be a dad, the same way when I was like did Q&A at film festivals."

Paul Butterfield/Getty Images/E! Illustration

When Harley was young, her mom "hung the moon," but Kevin knew his time would come to become "the favorite parent" after their daughter eventually learned what he did for a living.

"And that day came to pass," he said. "Suddenly, she was like, 'You make things? I like making things!' And suddenly we had a lot more in common."

That's not to say Harley wasn't ever embarrassed by her dad's movies, especially 2009's Zack and Miri Make a Porno

"It's not really kosher to have your dad make a film with the word 'porno' in it, so it was complicated for a while until I got older," Harley said. "But as a kid, my friends will come over to my house and be like, 'Why does your house smell so weird?' and I'd be like, 'it's like a candle,' and it would just be, like, so much weed. So, I was pretty embarrassed for a while but then, once I got older, then I was like, 'Oh, you're cool, I guess.'"

Kevin then joked, "Once she became a stoner, it was all OK."

But a passion for storytelling and marijuana aren't the only interests the pair share, as both Kevin and Harley are vegans—though their journeys to that lifestyle were vastly different. 

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After starting out as a vegetarian, Harley, an activist for animal rights, adopted veganism four years ago. But it took a serious health scare—a massive heart attack in 2018—for Kevin to go plant-based at his daughter's demand. 

"The truth is that I did not give my dad an option to not go vegan after his had his heart attack," she explained. "A lot of the time, animal fats can clog your arteries, and so that's one of the leading causes of heart attacks. Knowing this, I was like, 'I'm not risking anything ever again, you have literally no choice.'"

What started off as a two-month trial to appease his daughter became an entirely new lifestyle for Kevin, who went on to lose 51 pounds. But the heart attack had just as much of an impact on Harley.

"I've had a very blessed life, but almost losing your dad, like three minutes away from dying, is traumatizing," she explained. "It's an insanely traumatizing thing to have happen to you. It was the worst f--king thing that could ever happen to me."

But three years later, Kevin is healthier than ever and the duo have started a podcast called Vegan Abbatoir, about veganism, though Kevin doesn't exactly like to use the V-label. 

"The internet I guess is very triggered about veganism,' he explained.  "I've switched to the term plant-based just to take the heat off and stuff."

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Still, it's factoring into their Father's Day celebration, with the Smith family ordering a special vegan BBQ box from one of their favorite restaurants, Veggie Grill.

"We've been looking forward to this for a while," Harley said.

"We saw the ad and we're like, 'Oh my god, we need an occasion!" Kevin added. "Which is so weird because generally we're, like, 'It's Tuesday, let's over-order!' For some reason we're like, 'That is Father's Day.'"

Or, as it appears to be in their household, Best Friends Day.