Kevin Smith Calls Heart Attack ‘The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me'

The "Clerks" actor and director opens up on surgery, weight loss and staying positive after his near-death experience

What to Know

  • "Clerks" star and director Kevin Smith said on "Today" his doctor saved his life after a heart attack.
  • “I was afraid of dying, that’s my biggest fear ever,” he said. “My second biggest fear was anyone seeing me naked."
  • Smith said he's now a Weight Watchers ambassador along with Oprah Winfrey and DJ Khaled.

Just about two months after suffering a massive heart attack, actor and director Kevin Smith shared details about his journey back to health on "Today."

“Honestly, the heart attack was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Smith said, adding that his doctor saved his life.

The “Clerks” star and filmmaker suffered a heart attack Feb. 25 right after a standup comedy show in Glendale, California. The heart attack, called a "widowmaker" because of its low survival rate, was caused by total blockage of his left anterior descending artery (LAD), landing him in the hospital for surgery.

Smith's doctor used a stent to open up his vein.

“Suddenly I breathed — I felt a world better,” Smith recalled. 

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“None of the blood was going through there for who knows how long. I had 100 percent blockage for years so I wasn’t getting proper oxygen. So now I feel great,” the New Jersey native said.

Despite his precarious condition, Smith says the doctors found him to be quite lively during the operation, saying he would constantly ask questions and would sing an occasional song.

“So the dude went in there and they keep you awake while it’s going on, they don’t knock you out, so I was talking the whole operation,” he said. “He told me later on, ’You’re very chatty.’”

Smith told "Today" hosts Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin he sang the words to the teen drama series “Degrassi's” theme song because it’s “very hopeful.” “Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through,” he sang to the anchors.

Although Smith came across as a fun and positive patient, he said he still had his fears — death and nudity.

“I was afraid of dying, that’s my biggest fear ever,” the 47-year-old said. “My second biggest fear was anyone seeing me naked. And in the hospital your chances of dying and being seen naked go up real huge.”

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I was trying to do a killer standup special this evening but I might’ve gone too far. After the first show, I felt kinda nauseous. I threw up a little but it didn’t seem to help. Then I started sweating buckets and my chest felt heavy. Turns out I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life at the #glendale hospital told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (also known as “the Widow-Maker” because when it goes, you’re a goner). If I hadn’t canceled the second show to go to the hospital, the Doc said I would’ve died tonight. For now, I’m still above ground! But this is what I learned about myself during this crisis: death was always the thing I was most terrified of in life. When the time came, I never imagined I’d ever be able to die with dignity - I assumed I’d die screaming, like my Dad (who lost his life to a massive heart attack). But even as they cut into my groin to slip a stent into the lethal Widow-Maker, I was filled with a sense of calm. I’ve had a great life: loved by parents who raised me to become the individual I am. I’ve had a weird, wonderful career in all sorts of media, amazing friends, the best wife in the world and an incredible daughter who made me a Dad. But as I stared into the infinite, I realized I was relatively content. Yes, I’d miss life as it moved on without me - and I was bummed we weren’t gonna get to make #jayandsilentbobreboot before I shuffled loose the mortal coil. But generally speaking, I was okay with the end, if this was gonna be it. I’ve gotten to do so many cool things and I’ve had so many adventures - how could I be shitty about finally paying the tab. But the good folks at the Glendale hospital had other plans and the expertise to mend me. Total strangers saved my life tonight (as well as my friends @jordanmonsanto & @iamemilydawn, who called the ambulance). This is all a part of my mythology now and I’m sure I’ll be facing some lifestyle changes (maybe it’s time to go Vegan). But the point of this post is to tell you that I faced my greatest fear tonight... and it wasn’t as bad as I’ve always imagined it’d be. I don’t want my life to end but if it ends, I can’t complain. It was such a gift. #KevinSmith

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Smith is now focusing on losing weight in order to maintain his health. His doctor recommended he lose 50 pounds and he says he has so far dropped 32 pounds. He credits vegetable-based diets and Weight Watchers to his success. He also read Penn Jillette’s book “Presto” for weight-loss inspiration.

“I joined Weight Watchers and they made me an ambassador. So it’s me, Oprah and DJ Khaled. I’m in pretty good company,” Smith said.

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