First 'Clerks III' trailer reveals a meta plot twist and a Ben Affleck cameo in Kevin Smith's long-awaited sequel

Turns out, they are supposed to be here that day. On Sept. 13, Kevin Smith returns to the convenience store where it all began with the release of Clerks III — the trilogy-capper to his signature semi-autobiographical series that kicked off in 1994. The just-released first trailer for the film reveals how the filmmaker's own life will once again bleed over into the lives of his New Jersey cash-register jockeys. And you'd better believe there's a Ben Affleck cameo. (Watch the trailer above.)

It has taken Smith roughly a decade to get to this moment. The director first revealed that he was working on a very different — and much darker — version of Clerks III back in 2013. But that iteration fell by the wayside after Smith survived a high-profile heart attack in 2018. That near-death experience inspired a Page 1 rewrite of the film, which now finds perpetually sarcastic Quick Stop clerk Randall (Jeff Anderson) surviving a cardiac episode and deciding to finally act on his feature filmmaking ambitions ... much to the chagrin of his long-suffering friend Dante (Brian O'Halloran). "I'm living on borrowed time," Randall says. "No more watching movies — I'm gonna make a movie!"

from l to r: Trevor Fehrman, Brian O'Halloran, Rosario Dawson and Jeff Anderson in Clerks III. (Photo: Lionsgate)
From left: Trevor Fehrman, Brian O'Halloran, Rosario Dawson and Jeff Anderson in Clerks III. (Photo: Lionsgate)

Following Smith's own "write what you know" spirit, Randall decides to make a movie about being a clerk, which means that Clerks III is a meta-commentary on the making of the original Clerks, with callbacks and cameos galore. Besides Affleck — who plays one of the New Jersey locals auditioning for Randall's version of Clerks — the movie's role call of famous faces includes Fred Armisen, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Justin Long. It goes without saying that heterosexual life partners Jay and Silent Bob, played by Jason Mewes and Smith, are on hand as well.

"Jay and Silent Bob are like C-3PO and R2-D2," noted Death Star critic Randall says in one of the trailer's many Star Wars riffs. "They've been here since the first movie, which was the last time they were cool. But they've been with the franchise so long, they still give them cameos and put them on the lunchboxes."

Ben Affleck makes a cameo in Clerks III for his old friend, Kevin Smith. (Photo: Lionsgate/YouTube)
Ben Affleck makes a cameo in Clerks III for his old friend Kevin Smith. (Photo: Lionsgate/YouTube)

Smith is partnering with Fathom Events to bring Clerks III to more than 700 theaters on Sept. 13 and 15, and those screenings will be accompanied by an exclusive behind the scenes video. The director will also be touring with the film throughout the fall with Clerks III: The Convenience Tour, which has stops in Colorado, Pennsylvania and New York among other far-flung locations.

On Twitter, Smith's passionate fanbase are ready to return to New Jersey's most famous Quick Stop.

Clerks III premieres Sept. 13 in theaters; visit Fathom Events for showtime and ticket information.