'Clerks' Sequel Is Right Up Dawson's Creek

The script for "Clerks II" arrived in Rosario Dawson's hands with a level of secrecy usually reserved for M. Night Shyalaman-style twist-heavy projects.

"My agent, my manager had to go to the office to read it because they couldn't get a copy," recalls Dawson of the level of precaution taken to keep the "Clerks II" script off the Internet. "So, this messenger came over with the script and was like, 'OK, I'll be back in three hours.' So, I'm like speed-reading it and trying to get it all, and I'm cracking up hysterical. There's a Bollywood moment, a donkey show -- there is pretty much everything in there. I was excited I was going to be in the movie."

One person who was just excited to have Dawson on board was "Clerks II" writer/director Kevin Smith. Although most of the cast was drawn from Smith's 1994 indie hit, studio execs told him that the $5 million budget would come easier with a recognizable female star in the newly added role of Becky, a fast food manager whose relationship to original clerk Dante (Brian O'Halloran) deepens as the film progresses. After well-received turns in "Sin City," "25th Hour" and "Rent," Dawson was on the list of viable actresses.

"To be in a position where he's grateful for me to be a part of it is so odd for me," she says, obviously just a bit humbled. "Because I'm so grateful to be a part of it myself. So, I think It's something I'm proud of that I've worked hard enough to be in this position. But, it's also something I think is really funny, because he as well as on the first day realized, this doesn't fall to far from the tree as far as much as I think it does. I think for a lot of other people, at least my friends and family who watch this movie, will see that this character is a lot closer to my personality and this movie is than anything I've done before."

Indeed, Dawson is strikingly chatty and intelligent, which shouldn't be surprising, given that at only 27, she's been in the industry for well over a decade (since 1995's "Kids") and she's already shifted her career to include production duties through her Trybe shingle.

"I've seen too many things where the product was not important and nobody cared or was passionate about it and everyone was just dialing it in," Dawson says of the complacency that led her into producing. "This is not one where this is happening. These people are friends with each other, this is a family, this is something that's really important and they are actually making really good stuff."

Although it's a pretty low-brow comedy on its surface, Dawson makes a pretty convincing case that "Clerks II" is quite socially progressive.

"It breaks the barrier between things that are untouchable or not, because, between friends there are no untouchable subjects and you can go there," she says. "And I think people they are also going to be in that experience, but I also think they are going to step back and go,'Whoa.' And it's better than never touching on those subjects at all and always being sweet and perfect all the time and pretending that everything will be perfect in the world."

"Clerks II" opens wide on Friday, July 21.