Today is the day that Johnny Knoxville and his rag-tag crew of degenerates return to the big screen in their latest sequel, Jackass 3D. The film is a follow up to 2006′s Jackass Number Two and the 2007 straight to DVD release Jackass 2.5. We recently had the opportunity to sit down and shoot the breeze with Knoxville and co-star Bam Margera to find out why the hell they keep doing this to themselves. Is it an adrenaline addiction? Do they love pain? Do they feel like they’re too old for this? All those questions and more got answered in our interview. Take a look…
It’s been 10 years since the debut of Jackass the TV series, do you guys think you’re getting too old for this?
Johnny Knoxville: No, I’m more willing to do stunts now than when I first started the TV show. It’s just fun, man. I do get obsessed with constantly thinking of ideas, all day long but that’s just how it is.
Bam Margera: Knoxville actually had to have an intervention from [Jeff] Tremaine and Spike Jonze to stop doing stunts because they had too many already.
JK: They lured me to the office for one reason, and then they all got me in a big room and were like, “We’re out of time…you have to stop.”
When you first started Jackass there wasn’t a YouTube, or anything like that, and now there’s all this stuff you can see on the Internet. Do you feel like you have to one-up those guys, or be ahead of what’s going on?
JK: That doesn’t enter our minds. We just do things to make ourselves laugh. There’s some funny stuff out there, but we’re not in competition with anybody. We just love doing what we do, and we end up one-upping ourselves. It takes a little more to make us laugh than it did five or six years ago because we’ve been there and done that. It’s about what’s next. Going into this movie, we didn’t think, “We have to top this.” We just have to be funny. It’s such a competition to get footage. If Bam gets something great, then we all have to get something great.
Do you think there’s more to Jackass than just pee and poo? Is there any artistry to it?
BM: I’m on a lot of airplanes, so I just sip on red wine thinking of stupid ideas and when I think of it, I wanna make it happen. I’ll be like, “Okay, Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear in a boxing match. Maybe I can get Mike Tyson to bite off my ear.”
JK: We asked.
BM: Paramount was like, ‘You’re really willing to do that?’ I was like, ‘Hell, yeah! You know the street cred I’d have from a missing ear?’ People will say, ‘How did that happen?’ And I’d get to say, ‘Mike Tyson.’
You’ve had some pretty harsh criticism because of what you do. Do you pay attention to people’s opinions of you?
JK: Well, we always bet on ourselves. If the movie doesn’t do good, we don’t do good. I don’t care what other people think. We don’t want people not to like it, but people have their opinions. We’re psyched that we have a lot of people that do like it, and we understand that people don’t like it, but if you don’t like it, that’s fine.
BM: We showed the movie to an old folks’ home of 70-year-old ladies, and they loved it. And then, we showed it to a bunch of gay bikers [the Bears] and they loved it.
JK: Yeah. We asked the old ladies, ‘Is there anything you’d like to change?,’ and they were like, ‘We’d like to see more penis in the movie.’ They were awesome! It was really fun. And, we went to a bar in Silver Lake with the Bears and showed it to them. We had a ball.
Who comes up with most of the ideas for the stunts and how do you guys choose which ones you’ll do?
BM: Sometimes it’s a mixture of everybody. If they come up with an idea, they submit it to Paramount, then we have a stack of ideas, and people look at them and figure out what they would like to do. If it’s involving a bull, it’ll be Knoxville because it definitely won’t be me. Most of the ideas are two pages long and really descriptive, and then there will be one that is one sentence that says, ‘Shit shoe: find a shoe, and then shit in it.’
JK: The cast and crew all come up with ideas. Sometimes they’re just crude pictures drawn on a napkin, and sometimes we’ll get together and pitch ideas. Bam likes to fax hilarious pictures, that’s how he submits most of his ideas, and they’re really funny. The ideas all come to the office and we compile them, and then we send them to Paramount, just to go through all the legal stuff. Paramount leaves us alone, so we get the ideas and decide what to shoot or not.
Is it getting harder and harder to come up with ideas now?
JK: No, it was easier to write bits for this idea than any of the others. We have a stack of bits that we couldn’t even get to. Everyone just got real excited.
Johnny, in one of the scenes in the movie you get trampled by a buffalo. Did you get seriously injured?
JK: With the buffalo, no. It badly hurt, but I didn’t get injured. With the bull, I got a pretty bad concussion, but I got lucky on that one because I landed on the back of my neck. Thank god the bull kicked me in the head, at the last second, and altered my course just a little. Because of that, I’m sitting here today, talking.
Do you guys get a feeling of paranoia when you’re on set because you’re always pranking each other?
BM: Constantly. That’s the worst part about it. You’re never safe on set. When they would change angles with the 3D Phantom cameras, we’d have 2 hours to kill and that’s when things would happen like, ‘All right, I have to take a leak. I might as well take a leak on my bro! And, hopefully, I’ll get beat up by him!’ You’re just always turning around and looking over your shoulder. We even have a masseuse on set, for if you hurt your neck, so that they can give you a massage, but you can’t do it because you’ll get stun-gunned, punched in the face, or peed on. You’re doomed all around.
How difficult is it to keep Spike Jonze involved with these things?
JK: Luckily, Spike wasn’t directing a movie while we were doing this one. With the first two, he was always directing a movie. But, on this one, he was around more than ever. He loves it. It’s like a vacation for him because he’s a great filmmaker and then he works with us.
It’s a well known fact that Bam hates snakes, yet you continue to taunt him with them. Do you put them in the film just to make him cry?
JK: Yes. He loudly proclaimed one day, ‘You know what I hate? I really hate snakes.’ We were like, ‘Got it.’
BM: That was the worst decision on my part. I realized the hard way that you don’t tell people from Jackass what you’re terrified of because that’s just a new skit for them to film. But, I deserved it. Out of the course of the whole movie, I definitely peed and punched the entire cast and crew, so I knew that I had something terrible coming my way.
Jackass 3D opens in theaters nationwide on October 15th.