Johnny Knoxville: My 6 Favorite ‘Jackass’ Pranks, From 'Terror Taxi' to 'Bad Grandpa'
We love pushing things as far as we can go. These pranks usually start out with a simple idea, but then, when we get everyone together and start shooting, we try out different things and the idea just gets bigger and bigger. Then it gets crazy.
Here are some my favorite Jackass pranks.
Toy Car Up the Butt, Jackass: The Movie
This is definitely number one. It was magical. It’s such a crazy idea that could fall apart at any second, too. A lot of our ideas are like that, which makes it so unbelievable when we pull it off. Steve-O was initially supposed to do this bit, but he told his Dad about it and his Dad was so angry that he’d even consider doing it, that Steve-O decided he couldn’t do it. His Dad wasn’t super pissed, he was just disappointed in him, and it just broke Steve-O’s part. And then Ryan Dunn, in typical Ryan Dunn fashion, was just like, “Ah, well, that’s too good of an idea not to get done. I’ll do it.” He really took one for the team that day. We went to a bunch of x-ray places to get the image of the toy car in Ryan’s butt, and we ended up using the footage from the second x-ray place we went to. The reaction of that x-ray technician lady pulling it out, and the doctor, was so good: “Maybe you stuck it up your ass!” It was just pure gold.
Terror Taxi, Jackass Number Two
Someone suggested we make a beard out of pubes, so it really started as an excuse for us to get Ehren to wear a pube beard, and then it just started building and building. Then, we decided that Jay Chandrasekhar would play the cab driver, and then Spike [Jonze] came in and said, “Yeah, and when you get [Ehren] out of the car, you should slap him! Slap him a lot!” [Laughs] And then we decided to put him in the trunk, pull a gun on him, and have fake gunshots. In-sane. It just kept building, and building, and building, and also came close to falling apart every other second. We couldn’t get too close to the airport, and the cops were on our tail. This one’s tough to beat.
The High Five, Jackass 3D
This one really worked. I said, “Well, wouldn’t it be funny if we built a six-foot giant hand, spring-load it, and when people came around the corner, smoke ‘em with it!” I just thought it would be kinda cartoon-funny, but nobody was really that high on shooting it, but I wanted to, so we shot it. Luckily, it surprised everyone. It’s so ridiculous. When Bam walks in and it just shellacks him and takes him right off his feet? Amazing. And then, we just figured we’d add all these things to the slapping hand—flour so we could antique them, etc. Then, we came up with the idea of having Ehren walk in with a tray of tomato soups—which is ridiculous, like why would he carry in a tray of tomato soups? [Laughs] It’s just so funny when you’re shooting these stunts, because they just build and build the whole time.
The Electric Stool, Jackass Number Two
I suggested we get a card-throwing expert in and have him throw cards at Wee-Man’s ass. On paper, it’s kind of eh. But sometimes, when you have a simple idea and get everyone in the room and shoot it, something great comes out of it. The day before they shot it, the card-throwing guy said, “Hey, I have an electric stool… can I bring that?” And we were like, “Sure!” So, Wee-Man is sitting on a regular stool and the guy is throwing cards at his ass, and every time the card hits his ass, he gets an electric shock, so he thinks it’s the card the whole time! He never catches on. It’s amazing. Then, ol’ Sherlock Holmes thinks he’s figured it out and goes, “Oh, I get it! There’s a card-throwing machine in there!” [Laughs] Everyone just didn’t even know what to say and was dying. And Lance Bangs had a convulsion of laughter.
Bad Grandpa, Jackass Number Two
This went really great. We tested an actor-kid who was 12, and we went out to shoot the prank, and I’m in my three hours of make-up as Irving Zisman, and we walked up the hot dog stand and the kid goes, “I’m too scared… I can’t do it.” So we walked back to the car. And then my daughter, who was 12 at the time, had this little friend of hers that I knew, and he’s like “the cool kid” that all the girls loved. So I went, “Let’s call Slater.” The kid is fearless and really smart, and we got a great bit with him. So, we’re sharing a [fake] cigarette and drinking together at this hot dog stand on Vine and Selma, and this guy watching us got really hot. I’m pretty good at reading people and good at getting them to that boiling point, and then taking them down again, but this guy was going to punch me. I have no doubt. And I didn’t want to get punched in front of a kid!
The Beauty Pageant, Bad Grandpa
It’s one of the best things I’ve ever shot. The kid, Jackson Nicoll, worked on the dance routines for two months, and he had to nail the stripper-dance, the gown portion, and had to pull off passing as a little girl. Not only did he pull it off but he was in contention to win the pageant if we’d let it go on! God, that was fun to shoot. We’re very proud of that.
As told to Marlow Stern.