According to studio estimates on Sunday afternoon, Jackass: The Movie grossed $22.7 million over the weekend, bottle rocketing it to number one on the nation’s box office charts and easily procuring its entire, skim $15 million budget. Johnny Knoxville, recently knighted a “megastar” by Time magazine, and the business -savvy brain behind this lucrative Operation: Danger, agreed to meet with Life & Art in the Gaucho Room of the swank Loews Miami Beach Hotel last Thursday to discuss all things Knoxville and Jackass.
When Sven Barth (UM Skateboard Club President) and I were escorted to the interview location (by two publicists and two jackass security guards), we came upon Knoxville, sitting slouched on a plush couch, wearing his (now signature) cut-off Dickies work pants, black Chuck Taylor All Stars, a blue hoody, and brown-tinted shades. Unlike Steve-O, Knoxville’s demeanor was serious and he worded his answers with a businessman’s discretion. Maybe he had been partying too hard with Wee Man and Preston at B.E.D and Club Deuce Bar & Grill the night before – maybe he had formed a similar prognosis about us. Overall, you can’t judge a person by a 30 minute chat, but in conclusion, we were left guessing whether he would stick to his guns (doubtful), pull a Jim Carrey and become a “serious, dramatic actor,” or worse, market himself as an aficionado of Wal-Mart rebellion.
Q: When you were in Japan filming for the movie, did MTV attempt to bug you every second to see how things were going?
JNX: Nah, Paramount and MTV Films were great on this, they pretty much let us go off. No one from MTV or Paramount was ever around.
Q: Will you ever go back to your real name P.J. Clapp or are you trying to avoid it?
JNX: No, I mean, it’s my name. I’m Johnny Knoxville.
Q: Is Johnny Knoxville as good a name as Winona Ryder?
JNX: I prefer Irving Schimmel (?) to those two names.
Q: What is the best cure for a hangover?
JNX: Each glass of booze you drink, drink a glass of water with it, and then take an Advil before you go to bed.
Q: After listening to so much punk rock, do you ever question being part of a mass marketing machine like MTV?
JNX: It was obviously cooler when we were doing skateboard videos, but when you make a decision to go with a big production company network, you do sacrifice that, but it’s seen by more people.
Q: What would you say your favorite bands are?
JNX: The Ramones, the Replacements, the Misfits, the Clash and I love Johnny Cash and David Bowie too.
Q: Since you have been rather successful, how important would you say a college education is?
JNX: That’s a personal preference. Obviously, you don’t need it to shoot yourself in the chest. I would go back every now and then, so who knows, I might do so.
Q: Do you see a big difference in being raised in Tennessee, and then going out to Hollywood or staying at a place like this in South Beach? When we were walking up to the hotel, these two fat security guards pretty much interrogated us…
JNX: Yeah, when I stay at hotels, and the security guards don’t recognize me, they ask me what I’m doing in the hotel and ask to see a room key.
Q: When you guys were doing Jackass, did you ever watch any of the videos that kids would send in (emulating their stunts, hence the heavy disclaimers)?
JNX: We never even saw the envelopes.
Q: When you working at Big Brother Skateboarding, did you ever meet Larry Flynt (the owner)?
JNX: Yeah, at this party in an airplane hanger I walked up to him, shook his hand and said “Nice to meet you,” but he was looking the other way, so he was pretty happy to meet me.
Q: How do Hustler parties compare to ones at the Playboy Mansion?
JNX: Playboy parties are more upscale, while the Hustler parties are more down ‘n’ dirty.
Q: What did you honestly think of Men in Black II?
JNX: Uhhhhhh. Ahhhhhmm. Yeah, it was fun. It was good.
Q: Are there any plans for a Jackass videogame? Would the objective be to have Steve-O coughing up a goldfish?
JNX: There are plans, yeah, but we’re just started to sit down with people. We should have made it a long time ago, but we don’t know what we’re doing.
Q: How often do you get propositions from girls?
JNX: I’m married, so…the boys do really good. Steve-O tries to see how long he can go without taking a bath and still get a girl, and it’s a long time. He fuckiing stinks. He reeks of perspiration, weed…and ass. Steve-O jumped into some really fucked water with a dead kitten in it, and got an infection, and I ended up getting it because I drank after him.
Q: Is the NC-17 DVD for the Jackass movie still coming out?
JNX: No, [Paramount] won’t allow it. We kept the film to 90 minutes, so there’s a lot of good bits that didn’t make it in.
Q: So the movie is what you can’t see on television, and the DVD is what you can’t see in the movie?
JNX: Noooooo. The movie is in the same tone as the movie.
Q: Was it always your dream to become a movie star?
JNX: No, I was more interested in writing a novel (he never finished it), but I love what I’m doing.
Hunter Stephenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.