In “The Reboot,” a meta comedy from “Modern Family” creator Steven Levitan, Johnny Knoxville plays boring comedian Clay Barber. After several stints in prison, he’ll get a chance to redeem his role in a wholesome family sitcom if, yes, Hulu decides to reboot it 20 years later.
Unlike Clay, Knoxville is “really good” at punching out lines and is at least – according to his co-star Keegan-Michael Key – “a perfectly decent guy”. But the 51-year-old actor and stuntman admits there is “a little more” to his character. Both were labeled as bad boys and led a fast lifestyle in the eyes of the public. In the end, Knoxville has to cool down, and in the cleverly named “reboot,” Clay works to turn his life around and stay sober.
Knoxville talks about his own journey Difference, “I had to slow down. I was running hot. At 30, at 50, if you live like you lived at 30, you’re a fool. If you have the same thoughts at 50 as you did at 30, you’re not growing as a person.
“Sometimes I still have one too many… and you know what? that’s nice!” Knoxville added, leaning back with a laugh. “it is nice, my mother! Just every now and then.”
sitting with DifferenceKnoxville discusses his journey to the “reboot,” his relationship with friend and former co-star Bam Margera, and why 2022’s “Jackass Forever” may not be the end of the beloved physical comedy franchise.
What was it about playing Clay that appealed to you?
He’s such a cute character… so many demons. And he’s doing everything he can. He doesn’t always do it the best way, but he’s trying to hold it together. You like that person.
What does it get about the Hollywood “reboot”?
I have a kind of stereotype about Hollywood because I’m kind of in the business and I don’t have it. “Jackass” and [the 2013 spinoff] “Bad Grandpa” is made differently than most movies in Hollywood.
But you certainly have experience keeping up with network executives and showbiz politics.
for sure. And there are some execs with good notes. They are more rare [laughs] Unlike many executives who stay in these positions for a year or two and then move around. But “Reboot” nailed the personalities of the characters and actors… The writers’ section on the show is one of my favorite parts. I used to watch a whole show on the writers. Terrible things happen [co-star] Pink Mad Mouth – She’s so funny. You have two different generations who grew up with two different jokes and what they could say then and what they couldn’t say now. that’s true.
Both “Reboot” and “Jackass Forever” feature a group of people returning to the popular project years later, but the people and the culture have changed altogether. What is modern about “Jackass”, and what did it take to stay that way?
We are big now. Do we sweat doing what we do at our age? We all felt we should bring some young people to do it with us. And who knows what it looks like? So for a two-day challenge in December 2019, we were testing not just the youngest actor – but ourselves. After two or three hours of shooting, we all knew we were going to feel better. We don’t need to see the footage. Some people take a while to settle down, but that’s how it goes. The elders said, “Wait, are we being replaced?” They thought. No, we’re drawing the circle a little wider. It is one big family.
“Jackass Forever” was a hit with the box office and critics. Why do you think?
“Jackass” is a lot of things, but it’s mostly honest. And I think people appreciate that. All jokes are true. The pain is real. Love between men is true. The fear on the set is real. We have the truth on our side.
Also, the critics writing about “Jackass” were in middle school or high school when it first came out. And now they are in power. They grew up with us. Back when “Jackass” first came out, people had never seen anything like it before. So I don’t blame them for all the bad reviews.
The film is slated to be the final installment of the franchise. But with his reception, do you see a path forward for more “Jackass”?
We don’t know if it was or not. [the final film]. That was written somewhere and people ran with it. If we continue, we’ll push harder on the younger cast and the old guys will take a little step back, but they’ll still be a part of it. The neurologist says I can’t have any more concussions so I have to go back.
Is it true that you planned other symptoms but had to call them after the medical scare? Bull show?
Yes, I had three or four big stats planned. I don’t want to say what they were, but they were on the same level as the bull. Even if I got into the bull, I wouldn’t get out of the others. One of them had taken me out.
Was there a scariest moment you had on set?
i don’t think so. It’s one of the most disturbing issues I’ve ever had. Of course I have fear. But that’s about two or three days from the big show. When it’s time to shoot, I want to go now. I’m sitting in my car listening to music. When you are ready to go, call me and I will go. I think a bull show is more frightening to other people who have seen it. I was out for over a minute, but it wasn’t scary for me personally. When I do those things, I go somewhere else.
What helps you prepare for a big stunt?
I sit in my car and listen to music. They call me when we get ready to go.
What kind of music excites you?
My cousin Roger Alan Wade. Townes Van Zandt. Mostly sad songs make me go.
In a “I want to run into a brick wall” way. I don’t know why.
In the year In 2001, after a Connecticut teenager set himself on fire in an austerity attempt, Al Gore’s running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman, made a parody of the “Jackass” TV series and tried to get MTV to cancel it. How do you handle being blamed for something completely out of your control?
It doesn’t really seem to be about us. Lieberman seems to want to be tough on Hollywood in his campaign, which doesn’t really take a stand on anything. Of all the problems in the world, are you going to follow Hollywood? And especially us. Just take a real stand on another issue. But taking a stand is a simple matter. Some of them were. [amateur stunt accidents] The journalists thought it was “reversed events”. We don’t like it when kids get hurt. We always say, “Don’t try this at home.”
I found a letter from 10 years ago when Lieberman built his campaign. He wrote that the boy is a big fan and what they are doing has nothing to do with us. Words flowed into their mouths. “We didn’t look like ‘Jackass,'” he said. They were racing and we got burned. They were allowed to enter [by Lieberman] Like a toy. And the letter could not be more sweet. I just hate that he’s hurt. I don’t like hearing those stories when it’s just us or them spinning.
You had a very public feud with your friend and “Jackass” co-star Bam Margera, who accused you and Paramount of wrongful termination from “Jackass Forever” and later dropped the lawsuit. News broke that Margera was struggling to stay on track with his recovery, and fans were worried about his safety. Have you talked to him recently, and do you see a way forward for both of you?
I haven’t spoken to Bam in about a year and a half, give or take six months. [“Jackass” director] Jeff Tremaine, Steve-O, and I meet face-to-face with Bam and his wife to figure out how to get him help. Shortly after that we had a group zoom and that was the last time I spoke to him. I love to bam. I know a lot has happened. I just want him and his family to get well. I love the man, and I want him to get well and stay well.
Do you think there will ever be a place for him to re-enter the world of “Jackass”?
I think this will be a discussion. I just want it to get better. That is the first step. He has to take that step and keep that step, because all that’s left is fat. “Jackass” is not necessary when talking about someone’s life.
What do you see as the legacy of Jackass?
I never thought about it unless someone asked me about it in an interview. I am not the one to answer. Now it belongs to everyone. But you know “Jackass” is good by me. The toothpaste is out of the tube.