In Jackass Forever, we see Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee-Man, Dave England, and the rest of their crew reunite for another audacious comedy movie. It’s funnier, more sentimental, and absolutely bigger than any of their previous films.
From a kaiju-inspired preamble to a blowout paintball sneak attack, Jackass Forever is the usual faces doing what they do best, alongside some newbies who are put through their paces. More than a slightly gauche set of stunts and avant-garde comedic routines, Forever makes it clear just how much more Jackass has always been than merely some dudes who’ll do anything when there’s good footage to be had.
Knoxville himself sat down with us to chat about the home media release. He discusses who gets to do what dangerous activity, that incredible opening scene, his favourite memories of Ryan Dunn, and his latent WWE career, where he participated in WrestleMania of all things. That’d be surprising if it was anyone other than the bandleader of Jackass. Anyway, we’re The Digital Fix, and this is our interview with Johnny Knoxville.
The Digital Fix: I loved the movie from start to finish, and one of the things that really struck me was the totally audacious opening to the film. Can you tell me about how that all came together?
Johnny Knoxville: That was everyone working their ass off, really. We always wanted to do a monster movie opening, right like a Japanese monster movie opening, and I had an idea where I wanted to puppeteer Pontius’s penis in a hula skirt, like a hula girl.
I was going to puppeteer or we were going to hire a puppeteer, and my friend Derek Fraida said you should combine those ideas. I took that to Jeff, and then Spike, and they both jumped in with all their ideas. It was just a group effort.
In Jackass Forever, you trade some stunts from earlier seasons and movies, like Ehren does the cup test instead of you. Can you explain how you pick who does what?
Well, initially, it was supposed to be me. But I had a hernia surgery right before we started shooting, so I couldn’t do it. So then it’s like, who gives a terrified hilarious reaction?
Well, we should do it to Ehren. Yeah, we have people in mind when we select certain stunts or pranks because we know everyone’s speciality. So there is a method to the madness, a little bit.
Congratulations on your Royal Rumble appearance, and commiserations it didn’t work out for you. I’m just wondering –
It’s not over! What’s your question?
Will we see you again in WWE?
Well, I just want to show you the back of my sweater, and there’s a reason I’m wearing it. [sweater has ‘Johnny Knoxville WWE World Champion’ on the back]. I will be world champion, WWE World Champion one day, and that low down and dirty Sami Zayn has got it coming.
He cowardly kicked me out of the ring when I wasn’t looking at the Royal Rumble, and he crashed our premiere. How dare he? Right, he was soundly thrown off the carpet. He’s stalking me, and he’s going to get it.
[Johnny Knoxville defeated Sami Zayn by pinfall on night two of WWE WrestleMania 2022]
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There’s a little bit of a lovely tribute at the end of Jackass Forever in the credits to Ryan Dunn. What are your favourite Ryan Dunn memories?
He was just so sweet. He was so funny, and he was always so good to my daughter. You know, I remember one night we’re all hanging out. And he comes over and he’s bought this remote control helicopter for her.
We run out on our balcony, and she loves seeing Ryan. And he flies it for about two minutes. And he flies into a tree and it explodes and that was as long as that lasted. But it was a really fun two minutes.
One last question for you. When I was a teenager, despite your boilerplate warning, my friends and I went out with a camcorder and made our own version of Jackass. We called it dumb-shit because it was us doing dumb-shit. How do you see the kind of influence of Jackass manifests in the media landscape these days?
I don’t know, I kind of stay out of it. But, you know, obviously, there’s a lot of people doing what we do, or their version of it. That’s fine, because it is kind of their imitation of what we do but it also has nothing to do with us, and it’s fine that they do it. Go nuts. Just don’t be mean to people.
Jackass Forever is available on digital, Blu-ray and DVD now