ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — Even those who aren’t familiar with all of Kevin Smith’s films might be familiar with his near death experience last year.

In February of 2018, the then-48-year-old filmmaker suffered a massive, near-fatal heart attack. After being treated for a completely blocked artery, he went vegan and lost more than 50 pounds, some of them as a Weight Watchers ambassador.

Now healthy, Smith tells ABC Audio the health scare inspired him to work on his latest film, Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, which centers on the titular characters played by Jason Mewes and Smith, respectively, trying to stop a reboot of their 2001 movie Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.

Once again, Smith’s famous friends have cameos, including his Dogma stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

For Reboot, which opens Tuesday, Smith tells us he wasn’t shy about courting the sympathy vote to get what he wanted: “Oh my God, I play the heart attack like a fiddle, man…It gets casting credit. ‘Casting credit by the heart attack.‘”

He jokes that casting Reboot came down to,Me texting a bunch of people going like…’You do remember I almost died last year don’t you?’ And they’re like, ‘All right, I’m coming I’m coming.’”

Smith further explains: “[O]n Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back…we had, like, 22 cameos…This time we got, like, 44. So we got everybody back from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and then we got new people. So Ben and Matt return. Shannon Elizabeth is back. And then on the new front we’ve got Chris Hemsworth, [rappers] Method [Man] and Red[man], Val Kilmer, Melissa Benoist.  Everybody I’ve ever met or remotely spoken to in the last 25 years I reached out to and dragged them in.”

Jay & Silent Bob Reboot opens today.

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