“Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to jackass.”
And so begins another episode of the MTV cult-hit, jackass.
A show based on random stunts and pranks helped propel Johnny Knoxville and his crew of 10 members to worldwide fame and fortune.
And tomorrow, the band of misfits hit Hollywood in the aptly titled, jackass: the movie.
During a conference call interview last week, jackass host Knoxville, 31, discussed fractures, concussions and pains received on the way to stardom.
While Knoxville may now be a household name, jackass: the movie is certainly not for the whole family. The film features shots “not shown on TV” and other risque material.
“It’s a naughty 90-minute version of the show,” Knoxville said. “It’s all the stuff we couldn’t show on TV. The boys really stepped it up.”
The movie initially received an NC-17 rating after it was given to the Movie Picture Association of America. However, after a couple revisions, the movie was bumped down to an R rating.
“The MPAA sent us a list of things that were objectionable,” Knoxville said. “It initially got an NC-17 a few times. We didn’t have to take out any bits, we just couldn’t linger on things.”
As the show rose in popularity, being able to pull stunts was getting harder and harder.
But Knoxville said he was able to avoid distractions if he went into certain areas.
“We’re pretty cognizant of who watches or doesn’t,” Knoxville said. “Very rarely did we lose footage because we got recognized. We would go to areas where we know areas of a lot of elderly people.”
There was a scary moment in the movie when Knoxville injured himself during a golf cart bit, he said.
Another injury was incurred when Butter Bean, a heavyweight boxer who played a role in the movie, gave Knoxville a good beating.
“I went to the emergency room three times during filming, and I got a concussion from (crashing the golf cart),” Knoxville said. “Butter Bean gave me a concussion and stitches, and I got vertigo from all the repeated blows to the head.”
These injuries, however, were not new to the daredevil actor, who was doing stunts even before the show premiered.
It all started in the mid-1990s when Knoxville had the idea to get shot with pepper spray, a taser and a .38 stun gun and write about it. Jeff Tremaine, editor of Big Brother magazine, hired him and soon after, Knoxville was videotaping these stunts for stories and Big Brother videos.
Quickly becoming a hit, there would soon be a battle between Comedy Central and MTV for a TV show. He was even offered a spot on Saturday Night Live but turned it down.
“We were doing the pilot for jackass, and our cast and crew has already been hired,” Knoxville said. “Saturday Night Live came in the 11th hour and said, ‘Look, we’ll give you five minutes on the show every week to do what you do.'”
Knoxville turned down the gig and gambled that the show would take off. After three seasons of ratings MTV had never before seen, he was right. From there, movie opportunities soon came rolling in.
Knoxville has appeared in a half-dozen films, including Big Trouble, Coyote Ugly and, earlier this summer, Men In Black II, in which he played a two-headed alien.
“Will Smith couldn’t have been any nicer,” Knoxville said. “He’s a generally good guy. I only got to work with Tommy Lee Jones one day, and he was very nice. No nonsense but nice.”
But for all his movie experience, he said his work on jackass is the most rewarding. He does it all for fun. That’s the major reason jackass went from an idea to a reality.
“We were doing it to make ourselves laugh, and that’s basically why we still do it,” Knoxville said. “Hopefully, we can elicit some chuckles from the audience members, too.”
Contact Thomas Carrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org