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Kevin Smith is a filmmaker and actor who suffered a serious heart attack in 2018
In 2022, Kevin checked himself into a mental health facility after his suppressed trauma overwhelmed him
Kevin said his heart attack was ‘the greatest gift’, as it gave him a new outlook on life
Kevin Smith skyrocketed to fame after he and his film school friend, Scott Mosier, wrote, directed, produced, and acted in a very successful low-budget indie film called Clerks, which debuted in 1994. Since then, Kevin has helmed several notable projects, like 2004’s Jersey Girl starring Ben Affleck and several episodes of Supergirl. He has also appeared in several hit series, such as The Big Bang Theory and The Mindy Project. And while from the outside Kevin looked like he was a glowing Hollywood success story, Kevin was quietly — and unknowingly — suffering on the inside.
Kevin bumped shoulders with death in 2018 when he suffered a heart attack with an incredibly low survival rate. A few years later, he admitted himself into a mental hospital for having suicidal thoughts that stemmed from childhood trauma, which he did not realize at the time. Read on to learn about Kevin Smith’s health journey — both physical and mental —and where he stands today.
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Kevin Smith is a filmmaker, actor, and podcaster (Photo: Billy Bennight/AdMedia / SplashNews.com)
Kevin Smith Diagnosed With A ‘Widowmaker’ Heart Attack
On Feb. 25, 2018, Kevin, now 52, suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack between two of his California shows. His doctors told him that if he had not reported to the hospital, he would have died, according to his April 2018 interview with TODAY. He was rushed into surgery to have a stent placed in his heart, and Kevin — who was awake during the surgery — recalled feeling “instantly better.” He explained, “It made sense, none of the blood was going through there for who knows how long. I had 100 percent blockage, so I wasn’t getting proper oxygen. So now I feel great.”
What Is A “Widowmaker” Heart Attack?
“Widowmaker” heart attacks occur when there is a blockage in the biggest artery that leads into the heart. “That means blood can’t move through your left anterior descending (LAD) artery, which provides 50% of your heart muscle’s blood supply,” Cleveland Clinic states on its website. “Immediate treatment is crucial for a chance at survival.”
Kevin Smith Suffers Mental Health Break
In Jan. 2022, the SModcast podcast host revealed that he spent one month in Arizona’s Sierra Tucson treatment center for intensive therapy after he felt he suffered a “complete break from reality”. During the April 2023 interview with PEOPLE, Kevin admitted to having suicidal thoughts at the time he sought help. “At that moment, I wouldn’t have been averse to not being around any longer. I called a friend and said, ‘I’m in a weird, dark place. I need to go somewhere and get help,’” he recalled.
Kevin explained that his mental health reached a breaking point after suppressing what he discovered was sexual abuse as a kid. He told his therapist that he was just 6 years old when an older boy forced him to perform sexual acts with a young girl, which he shrugged off as just “playing doctor in an alleyway.” The therapist explained what he experienced was sexual abuse.
The filmmaker was traumatized three years later when his fourth teacher made fun of his weight in front of the entire classroom. “I felt disgusting, like I didn’t matter,” he remembered in his chat with PEOPLE. “That’s when ‘the other guy’ started to appear,” he said, describing his alter ego that was really used to mask his personal feelings. “I decided to be entertaining and make people love me before they noticed I was fat.”
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In his early 20s, Kevin further masked his emotional trauma by focusing solely on work. “I was already a self-loathing mess [when I became famous]. ‘The other guy’ became my favorite piece of clothing to wear. I’d just let him take over,” he said.
Because he downplayed his trauma his whole life, Comic Book Men producer admitted it was difficult for him to feel like his issues were worth talking about. “In the beginning, it was tough to share when somebody’s talking about watching their friend get killed and I’m like, ‘Well, my fourth-grade teacher told me I was fat,’” he said. “But I learned that there’s no differentiation [between levels of trauma] to the human nervous system. Internally, trauma is trauma.”
How Long Was Kevin Smith Sick?
It is hard to tell how long Kevin’s artery was under such stress. People can live with an artery that is 100% blocked for months or even years, according to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. People may feel symptoms such as chest pains or tightness and shortness of breath and not think it’s the result of something more serious. As for his mental health, Kevin explained that he suppressed his emotional damage from his entire childhood and young adult life, resulting in an urgent need for help in his early 50s.
How Is Kevin Smith Doing Today?
Kevin Smith is seemingly doing better than ever following his heart attack and mental health scare. After his stent insertion, Kevin began losing weight and has been very proud of it. Just two weeks after his heart attack, he gushed about his 20-pound weight loss. “This is the weight I was when I met my wife,” he told TODAY. “This is a good weight to be at. Last time I weighed this little, I scored big time.” He said his goal was to lose 50 pounds.
The New Jersey native has documented his health journey on Instagram, and in Oct. 2022, he celebrated the five-year anniversary of the beginning of his weight loss journey. “Nearly five years ago, weighing in at close to 300 lbs, I had a massive heart attack. On Thursday, I ran up a hill in my hometown that I never ran up when I was a kid, while weighing my adult lowest of 195,” he wrote alongside a selfie, as seen below.
“I know some folks are like ‘Would you stop talking about the heart attack already?’ If I do, I run the risk of getting complacent again – or worse,” Kevin continued. “So with apologies to those who hear me as a broken record, I’ll continue to remind myself that I was lucky enough to survive the deadliest heart attack there is and I’m living on borrowed time. And so maybe use this post as a polite reminder, Kids: Pretty Please, with sugar on it…Get your f******heart checked.”
In Sept. 2022, Kevin said his heart attack was an unexpected awakening. “That heart attack was the greatest gift I ever had. Not only did it save my life, make me go vegan and go healthier and stuff, but it gave me the spine for Clerks III,” he told PEOPLE.
As for his mental health, the Muppets Mayhem actor is preparing to release a video about his journey. “I’m terrified to see everyone’s reaction to [all of this],” he confessed to PEOPLE. “But I know there’s somebody out there who doesn’t know this stuff — like I didn’t — who could get something out of this.” He also mentioned he gave up weed and cut back his social media usage, which he touched on in the caption of a Feb. 2023 Instagram post.
“5 years ago, I had a heart attack. Happy to be alive today, of course – but also sad for those I’ve hurt and the damage I’ve done since surviving. … As much as I want to, I cannot change the past,” he wrote in a lengthy message. “All I can do is make it better for today. So that’s what I’ll endeavor to do. Every day. Until the Reaper returns. Today marks my 5th week without weed. I feel less numb and more present than I have in 10 years,” he continued, adding that there is “no judgment” toward his weed-friendly pals.
Kevin also announced he weighs 180 lbs., the lowest on the scale he has ever seen as an adult. “Change is possible,” he continued. “If you’re green, you’re growing. If you’re ripe, you’re rotting. And I’m done being rotten. Every day is a school day. And I’m willing to learn.”
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