Kevin Smith comes home to New Jersey — and the Quick Stop — in ‘Clerks III’

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Kevin Smith is going back to where it all began.

Almost 30 years after he made a splash with his independent film “Clerks,” the writer-director came back home for the movie’s second sequel. But he didn’t just return to his home state of New Jersey for “Clerks III,” he went back to Quick Stop, the convenience store where he worked and also filmed the movie that made him a star.

“I should feel like a failure, all these years later being back to where it all began, right?” Smith, 52, told the Daily News. “But really, it was a triumph.”

Being back in Jersey to film a full feature for the first time since his 1994 debut was a magical experience, Smith added.

“It was almost like fantasy camp,” he said. “You get to go and do the [things] you did when you were young.”

Jason Mewes, Smith’s longtime friend and co-star, called filming the movie “surreal.”

“It was nice being back in Jersey, and it was awesome to be back in the store,” he said.

While the central New Jersey store, a popular destination for “Clerks” fans, is still serving customers seven days a week, Smith is hoping to draw more than just laughs this time after going through a life-changing experience.

Smith wrote “Clerks III” — set for a limited theatrical release from Sept. 13-18 — after he suffered a near-fatal heart attack while performing onstage in February 2018.

The experience became the crux of his latest film. Instead of his own character, Silent Bob, having the heart attack, though, one of the titular clerks, Randal (played by Jeff Anderson), nearly dies at work. After he recovers, he persuades his best friend, Dante (Brian O’Halloran), to help him make a movie about their time working at the Quick Stop.

The usually self-referential Smith had the opportunity to turn it up for “Clerks III” as much of the film not only mentions plot points from the first two movies, but Randal also attempts to re-create them for his own film-within-a-film.

Randal goes from being the wisecracking sidekick in the 1994 original to the main focus of “Clerks III.” His desire to make a movie after experiencing a “widowmaker” heart attack — which, we’re told in the film, kills 80% of the people who experience them — drives the plot.

Writing out his experience with the heart attack was therapeutic for the filmmaker. Smith noted much of what Randal went through in the first act was taken from his recovery.

“The heart attack stuff was cathartic,” Smith said. “To take it and make it a feature in the movie really shrank what was the worst day of my life.”

Giving the heart attack to Randal meant he “could make jokes about it and depower that moment.”

O’Halloran said the film rewards people who have been with the franchise since the beginning.

“If you’ve been a fan since ‘94, I think it’s amazing to see these characters in different parts of their lives,” he said.

One thing that came naturally to O’Halloran, at least according to Mewes, was tears.

“I’m always impressed with how good he is at crying,” Mewes said.

Smith said he hopes that the emotional beats for “Clerks III” resonate with fans who have followed the characters for the past 30 years.

“I love making people laugh, but the older I get, I’m more interested in making people feel.”