Sunday March 17, 2002 St. Regis Hotel, LA, six
journalist sit at a roundtable awaiting Johnny
Knoxville. Other actors (even the director) from the
film "Big Trouble" are available, but the consensus
among the press is that Johnny is the man we're all
here to see. Interestingly enough, Director Barry
Sonnenfeld had nothing but kind words to say of
Johnny, "He's a very talented actor ... We can always
cut to him ... I'd recommended him to other directors
... He calls me sir."
Johnny eventually arrives with a smile and a "just
woke up look" unshaven face. Wearing a 1982 Rick
Springfield T-shirt and sporting a blue circle tattoo
(with 3 stars) on his wrist, he sits with both elbows
on his thighs, leaning into the table. Smiling, he
stares into a blank spot on the table while
occasionally looking up at us. His demeanor is
pleasant and straight, his answers frank and
[Click here for
my "JACKASS the Movie" Review]
[Click here for
my "JACKASS 3D" Review]
Q: What is your real
A: PJ Clap.
Q: And when did you decide
... somehow this name wouldn't work?
A: When I had it on my letters jacket in
high school and I used to get made fun of. No, I was
just writing for magazines under Johnny Knoxville and
I thought it was a ridiculous enough name. Just for
underground mags that are probably out of business
Q: What did you
A: Participatory journalism type stuff, I
would go on a trip and write about it. I tested
self-defense equipment on myself and wrote about
Q: What other stunts have you
A: Pepper spray, stun gun, taser gun, and I
shot myself with a .38 while I was wearing a
Q: How'd that feel?
A: My adrenaline was pumping so I don't
remember the impact except that it felt like someone
hitting me in the chest with a shovel because the
vest dispersed the impact.
Q: And the mace?
A: The mace was horrible. It felt like
someone lighting a fire in your eyes and then trying
to put it out with gasoline.
Q: did you ever think 'I
gotta stop doing this'?
Q: How's the movie
A: It's going great.
Q: Can you call it
A: Yeah "Jackass, the Movie." Yeah we can.
It wouldn't be too unfunny if we had to blur it, but
yeah we can.
Q: Where did you grow
A: In Tennessee ... Knoxville! You see how
clever that is.
Q: And how old are
A: I'm 31.
Q: Did the BBQ lawsuits kill
your show on MTV ... did you have to go to
A: No. I never went to a trial and as far
as I know, I don't know any law suits that arose from
that ... but that's a question for MTV.
Q: Were you under fire for
A: We were under fire from Washington DC,
DC - Hollywood - same thing. So that did take a toll
on the show. But we did do as much as you could on
TV. And from the beginning of the show it was my
opinion that it should last a short amount of time,
because people become [disinterested] in things after
Q: So how many shows did you
end up doing?
A: 24, plus one special, lasted 10 months.
Actually we did 2 specials. They wanted us to do some
video countdown show, but we didn't think that was a
great idea so we did the worst version of that and
turned it in. (snickers)
Q: Were you organizing your
own stunts or did the producers concoct these
A: I produced the show, so it's my fault.
It's all our fault.
Q: Your brainchild?
A: It was a collective, it wasn't just
Q: What gave you incentive to
A: We were just doing skateboard videos for
ourselves and eventually word got out and ....
Q: What were some of the
daredevil stunts you used to get into as a
A: I didn't do that many stunts because I
was asthmatic and I was sick most of my childhood. I
would just kinda like sit next to my mom watchin' TV
Q: What were your
A: Uhm, TV and movies and I played baseball
and sports so I wouldn't let the asthma get the best
of me. I played sports until I graduated high
Q: And now it's gone?
A: No, I still, have... believe me people
have worse problems than me.
Q: Are you trying to use
"Jackass" as a vehicle to get into the
A: No "Jackass" has kind of evolved and so
did the movie thing.
Q: Do you think Washington
should just calm down?
A: I think parents should spend a little
more time with their kids and view what they're
watching. I have a 6-year-old little girl and we
screen everything she watches...
Q: Her name?
Q: If it was a boy? What
A: I'm so smitten with my daughter, I don't
even remember what we would have called it if it was
Q: Is your wife a
A: No, she told me she'd sue me if she ever
ended up on "Jackass."
Q: Do you let Madison
A: I let her see certain parts of the show.
Parts that are naughty or where daddy gets hurt,
she's not allowed. But, things like the Oompla Loompa
Q: Anything else you working
A: Yeah I just finished "Men in Black II"
where I play a two-headed alien.
Q: Barry Sonnenfeld says
you're a really good actor, did you study?
A: Oh, I never thought I had any talent. I
don't know. I literally was sick growing up and I
just sat around watching movies and that's all I
Q: Favorite movies?
A: "Harold and Maude," "Face in the Crowd,"
"Cool Hand Luke" "Cinema Paradiso..." I don't know,
there's so many.
Q: Who's your cinematic
A: Slim Pickens! He's so good in "Flim-Flam
Man." And "Blazing Saddles." Strother Martin, I love
too. As far as leading actors .. God, George C. Scott
Q: Tell us about your
A: My mother was a housewife. She stayed
and raised myself and my two older sisters. My father
owned a tire company and he was a professional liar
as he said. He was constantly pulling pranks and
stunts on me and everyone at the tire company.
Q: What kinds of
A: I don't know, he would make chocolate
shakes for everyone at work and fill them with
Ex-Lax. Or stage gun fights at work between employees
but have them be blank guns. He still writes me like
naughty poems and signs them the unknown poet, but
you know its him because no one else actually does
that obviously, and he makes all his "Y's"
Q: Were you a troublemaker in
A: I talked a lot, constantly, I guess. I I
I... was a pain in the ass, that's what I'll say.
Obviously, I got in trouble in school, but I don't
think I was any worse than anyone else ... you know
everyone's a little excitable. It was funny, dad came
to school one day because I was getting in trouble
and says, 'anytime he does something out of line ...
paddle him.' So anytime after that I got paddled...
you behaved a little better.
Q: When'd you get out of
A: 2 mo's after high school I went to the
American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, but I
didn't stay there long, just because they didn't want
you to audition while you were there ... it just
wasn't for me.
Q: How'd you support
A: Job to job, waiting tables, bartending.
I umpired little league, which was the greatest job I
ever had to this day.
A: The kids were really sweet, it was in
the Latin community in the Valley. Where I grew up,
the parents were really into it and yelled at the
umpires. [But here] I would blow calls and they were
so polite. And I was like 'Oh, this is
Q: How did you break into
A: We just had this show and a few people
wanted it so it ended up on MTV.
Q: How do you get to feel so
comfortable on camera?
A: You're really not thinking about the
camera, because some imminent doom is coming your way
so the camera's the least of your worries.
Q: Do you get hurt doing
A: No, not really, just some concussions
and some breaks.
Q: What'd you break?
A: God, I've broken so many bones ... just
from childhood to now. I did my ankle like three
Q: Do you regret doing the
A: I don't regret doing the BBQ suit, I do
regret that the kid took it upon himself to imitate
what he thought was his interpretation of the stunt
which wasn't our stunt at all. From the beginning
we've always emphasized 'don't try this at home,' in
interviews and on the show and we mean it. When
someone sends a tape in, we send it back.
Q: What did you do in this
A: I affixed steaks to a suit and laid on a
Q: Did it hurt?
A: Yeah, it got hot.
Q: Did you eat the steaks
A: Yeah, unfortunately! They were the
cheapest steaks and they weren't cooked very well;
I'm surprised I don't have some kind of E. coli?
Q: Now what about "Big
Trouble?" And working with Tom Sizemore?
A: (laughs) I didn't know what to expect
going into it with Tom because. I've seen his role,
he's an intense guy. But he's actually super nice to
me and he helped me out a lot. I'm not just saying
that ... he did! So I have nothing but good things to
say about Tom Sizemore.
Q: How about playing this
sweet, but dumb guy?
A: Yeah, just working with Mr. Sonnenfeld
and everyone, this was my first, so everyone was
really supportive. And it was a lot of fun. Yeah,
you're in Miami for 3 mo's with per diem. Ensemble
movie, you're off half the time - what's not to
Q: Did the director ask you
to improvise or what?
A: His note is 'faster and funnier' ...
that's his main bit of direction.
Q: And what about the 9/11
thing? Is this movie sort of sideswiped by that
A: You know, one thing that I dislike is
when actors pontificate on things especially
something like that. And so I don't want to be
evasive, I just hate when actors get self-important
and talk about something especially of that
magnitude. I mean, this is just a movie and we're
just trying to make people laugh...
Q: What about the "Jackass
A: An hour and half long, much much
naughtier version of the show. It's going to be an
R-rating and we're going to take full advantage of
it. Only adults will be allowed in ... more mature
themes ... or immature themes (laughs).
Q: Can you tell us one of the
A: No, I don't want to give anything away.
I hate to be like that, but...
A: It's the entire cast of the TV show. And
we'll have Brad Pitt, and Shaquille O'Neal cameo, we
had them on the show. I just hate to find out too
much information about a movie.
Q: Who collaborated on the
A: There's no script. Just a lot of bad
ideas rolled into one. (snickers)
Q: How about your young guy
A: A lot of male attention. (Laughs)
Q: How do you spend your
A: Mostly with my kid.
Q: Any stunt someone
suggested you do on the show that you just refused
... like hanging yourself?
A: What? You don't think I'm hung?
Q: Does your wife ever say
... 'come on you cannot do this'?
A: She'll be happy when it's all over, we
don't talk about it. I made the mistake of telling
her what I was going to do the first stunt I ever did
and she worried for two weeks. So after that ...
Plus, after I got home she went on a big shopping
spree. So I won't make those mistakes anymore.
Q: What's the best thing
about the success coming quickly?
A: I like the life I can give my daughter.
She can travel; she's been to Paris and
Q: What was your best
vacation when you were a kid?
A: Going to Daytona beach, playing in the
sand, my dad always made me Rice Krispies with
bananas and that was good.
Q: And "Jackass" is out
A: This summer.
[Click here for
"JACKASS the Movie" Review]
[Click here for
"JACKASS 3D" Review]