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Walking Tall - Johnny Knoxville Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. So Johnny. You're known from your Jackass days for stunts like crashing into walls, shooting yourself with a gun, putting live leeches on your face and swimming in shit - all the while revelling in the deep discomfort. The question is, why?
A.
Call it dim-witted optimism. Man, I've done some very naughty things.

Q. In your latest movie, Walking Tall, you and The Rock become sheriffs who bust up bad guys. Were the Walking Tall stunts harder than the Jackass stunts?
A.
Oh this was a lot easier! On Jackass, we did it for real. In Walking Tall, it was all make-believe. But it was a little difficult in its own way. In the past, I've had to fail doing stunts. In this, I had to actually succeed. The stuntmen walked me through and showed me how to do it.

Q. So until this point in your life, you could say your aim was always to fail?
A.
Yeah, that's been the idea so far in my life.

Q. There's a scene in Walking Tall where you get smash tackled into the ground in a football match. Did that hurt?
A.
I got the wind knocked out of me a couple of times but it wasn't too bad compared to going to the hospital or anything.

Q. So no broken bones this time around?
A.
No, no. It was all gravy, compared to my earlier work. It's all uphill from there, man!

Q. Are you any good at sports generally?
A.
I'm good at jumping into bushes. I played baseball and football growing up. I was decent at baseball, alright at football. I like sports but I am kind of unco-ordinated.

Q. Working on Walking Tall must have been boring for you, then...
A.
No, it's fun, but a different kind of fun. It wasn't boring. But it wasn't travelling around the world with my mates. It was still fun. I mean, I get to hang out in Vancouver for the Summer. Come on!

Q. So did they send the stuntman home?
A.
No, because I need a stuntman. During rehearsal, they walked me through everything and showed me how to do it. Without them, I would have looked even worse than I did.

Q. What was it like working with The Rock?
A.
He was a cool guy. I'd heard he was nice but when I showed up he was easy going, funny, seems like a guy you grew up with. There's no pretense bullshit about him, he's cool.

Q. Did you get him to show you some wrestling moves?
A.
I'm not much of a wrestler. He was a big boy. We didn't get to talk much wrestling. But we got to hang out in Vancouver for the summer. Men grappling was the least of our concerns.

Q. In one Walking Tall scene, you destroy a truck with a chainsaw and sledgehammer. That must have been fun...
A.
Yeah, man. That was fun. I would turn up on set and say, "Right, what are we doing today?" That's because I don't read the script. And they hand me a chainsaw and say, "Destroy this truck." I'm like, "Sure thing. I can do that." And I did.

Q. Do you have more fun with Jackass or making movies?
A.
Well, compared to digging ditches, they're all great, man. Digging ditches is what I'm qualified to be doing. But Jackass was great. It was just me and my friends. I don't think anything will ever eclipse the fun of Jackass for me. But making movies is a whole different type of fun.

Q. How did a small-town kid from Tennessee grow up to be an internationally-recognised star? How did Jackass come about?
A.
About two months after graduating high school, I moved from Knoxville to go to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena, California. I dropped out after two weeks and then knocked around Hollywood for about five or six years.
Then my then-girlfriend got pregnant, so I went, ‘Oh - now I gotta do something’. So I started writing for some skateboarding magazines. I was working on a story for Big Brother magazine, about self-defence equipment. I was testing the devices on myself and the magazine's editor, Jeff Tremaine, convinced me to start filming my articles.
Soon my antics were being put in skateboard videos and it kinda took off. It turned into a TV show, which turned into a movie. Then I got other offers for movies.

Q. Do you sometimes sit back in bewilderment at how it all came off?
A.
Yeah. I try to not think about it too much. I try to pretend it's all normal. But it's pretty incredible, how everything came together.

Q. What is the worst injury you have had?
A.
I went to the hospital four times for the show, three times for the movie. Mostly it wasn't too bad. It was just sprains or concussions. I don't remember having breaks on the show, but I have broken a lot of bones in my life just because I am really clumsy. I was kind of lucky in terms of Jackass.

Q. But was there one particular stunt where you thought, "What the hell am I thinking?"
A.
Any time I worked with guns or bulls, I pretty much thought, "What the hell am I doing?" I rode a bull called Mr. Mean, which none of the cowboys would get on. Sitting on his back in the shoot before they unleashed us was one of the loneliest moments of my life. He was bucking and snorting. I got a sprained elbow out of that, but luckily he didn't get me too bad.
The thing I did for Big Brother, I was testing self defence equipment on myself and someone else was supposed to shoot me with a .38 in a vest, which I just bought off the internet. I didn't have much money at the time so I had to buy the cheapest vest they had. When we got out there my friend refused to shoot me, so I had to shoot myself. I haven't messed with guns that much and I was preying the vest would work. It did and I am here.

Q. We know you have thousands of female admirers. What's the weirdest offer you've received from a female fan?
A.
I have had girls come up to me and punch me in the mouth and say, "I love your show". Or they'll burn me with cigarettes or lighters. I have cigarette burns all up my arm.
Look. Some will say, "Can I ask you a question? Are you looking for a little pussy tonight?" I'm like, "A little?" It's weird. Most times they come up and say hello but other times you get the extreme version of that.

Q. That's what you get for being a star, Johnny.
A.
It's what I deserve.

Q. That's what you get for dragging down American culture.
A.
And international culture.

Q. Were you amazed at the success of Jackass?
A.
We didn't think it could be a TV show much less a hit TV show. We were confused as anybody. And it was really successful in a lot of countries. I travel abroad a lot and I get recognised all over, from Singapore to Tokyo, to somewhere in Europe.

Q. Who is the most famous person you've got to meet as a result of your Jackass fame?
A.
Me and the Jackass boys met Brad Pitt. He couldn't have been any nicer or any cooler. He hung out with us in our van for half a day and he was just like one of the guys. He was up for doing whatever and finally, at the end of the day, he gets out of the van and leaves. All the guys are sitting there and everyone looks at one another and is like, "Yeah, I'd do him." Even we had to admit how good looking he was. He was a cool guy.

Q. So you obviously like a drink. What is your alcoholic drink of choice?
A.
What have you got? I like scotch but if they don't have scotch, tequila's good. If they are out of that I'll drink vodka and if they are out of that, gin's real good. I will drink whatever you got. Anything that's too thin to eat.

Q. Will there ever be more Jackass?
A
. No, we are done. We let the movie be the exclamation on the show. Bam and Steve Owen and Pontius have shows on MTV which are amazing. I'm really proud of the guys.

Q. What kind of parts do you want to take in your film career?
A.
I want to stick with comedies and I want to do some more action. I am getting ready to do this small part in this film called Lords of Dogtown. I want to be able to do a number of things. I am producing a movie at Paramount right now which I am starring in. I want to do my own material.

Q. And you've been working with the Farrelly Brothers recently, who are the kings of gross-out comedy...
A
. Yeah, I did a movie with them in Austin, Texas called The Ringer, which is one of the coolest things I ever did, if not the hardest. I get hard up for dough and my uncle, Brian Cox, who gets in debt to some bookies, convinces me to rig a challenge in the Special Olympics.
On the surface that sounds like it would be mean spirited, but it's not because mean stuff happens to me. We cast real competitors in the roles and they are amazing. And they have such a great perspective on things and they are so positive and each one of them is unique. I am going out bowling with one of the guys tomorrow night, he is in town. He likes blonde girls. We're going to try to find him a blonde girl. He's in the right spot, here in Hollywood.

Q. You're obviously a wild, funny man who loves life. But what really pisses you off in life?
A. Every night around 2am when they yell, "Closing time!" Last call gets me angry every time. Last call always makes me angry or cry, depending on what mood I am in. I am nothing if not sensitive.

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