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August 2005
Dukes of Hazzard: An Interview with Johnny Knoxville

Dukes of Hazzard: An Interview with Johnny Knoxville

By Wilson Morales

Johnny Knoxville came into the film business through his "Jackass" fame. Known for his obnoxious pranks and stunts, he developed quite a following. His transition into the film business has been smooth, first with the Jackass film, and then with subsequent smaller roles and films. Although he appeared in "Men in Black II", he wasn't the main star. In what is his biggest role to date, Knoxville landed the role of Luke Duke for the film version of the TV series, "The Dukes of Hazzard." In speaking with blackfilm.com, Knoxville talks about his role and the jokes he played on the set.

Does Willie Nelson smoke pot?

Johnny Knoxville: The strongest pot you'll ever want to smoke.

Did you imbibe?

JK: Fortunately and unfortunately. I do not know what he puts in that. I mean, it's a real commitment. Hope you don't mind the room spinning for the next four hours.

Is this film a parody of the series?

JK: No, it's not a parody. It's not like a Starsky and Hutch parody. We strived for a more Smokey and the Bandit tone. So we're not parodying the TV show at all.

Ever smuggle anything across state lines?

JK: Up to this point, I haven't violated the Mann act. Steve-O, it was a funny story, he got caught smuggling weed and hash from Norway into Sweden. He got a bunch of weed and hash and rolling papers and put it in a condom. He swallowed it at an airport in Norway and flew over into Sweden just so he could get to Sweden, let it pass through his body and say it's the best shit he ever smoked. And the authorities went online and read his plan, his devious plan and promptly went to his hotel room and arrested him in Sweden. $30,000 in lawyer fees later, he's like, "Dude, no six publicists could have gotten me that much publicity for that amount of money. It's awesome."

What was the most revolting thing you've done on Jackass?

JK: That was pretty disgusting, but I witnessed some things on Jackass no man should have to witness. There's ladies at the table so I really don't want to into it.

Is Jackass a typecast, people expect you to be wacky and gross?

JK: No, it hasn't been a problem so far. I'm proud of Jackass. It's what got me here and just something that me and all my friends did that kind of took off. I don't want to outrun it at all. But that said, I want to do other things and I've been very lucky to do other things.

Will you be doing another show with Mark Zupan?

JK: No, we - by the way, Murderball is wonderful - we're doing a special with the guys from Murderball, some of the athletes. It was definitely in the vein of Jackass but it was just getting together with those guys. In the documentary, they were very funny when they were all hanging out together, doing the kind of stuff that we did and everyone does when you're six guys in a room hanging out. So we thought it'd be good to get together and just do some things with them. We had fun.

When is it airing?

JK: I think it's airing pretty soon. It'll be on MTV.

Are there restrictions on what dangerous things you can do now? Shoving things up?

JK: No, I can do that. Yeah, when you're doing things, on everyone's contract you can't.

Did you want to drive the General Lee?

JK: No, I didn't. That was Seann's thing. I didn't even do it when we were practicing with Bobby Orr doing the stunt driving. I just subconsciously didn't even think about it.

Ever get hurt in the window?

JK: Couple of shinners. I remember showing up on set and seeing that for the first time and the windows are really narrow. But the stunt guys worked with me and showed me how to do it.

How was working with Jessica Simpson?

JK: She was so on point. I remember after the first take that she did, she goes, "That was my first take in a film." You never would have known it. She was completely composed, hitting her mark, knew all her lines. Maybe I need to take some notes from her.

Did you see her evolution from family girl?

JK: Well, I saw the video. She was pretty free spirited in the video and there are some moments in the film where she seemed pretty free spirited. So yeah, she just- - it's not a tough gig. Most people would have wilted under the pressure but she did great.

Were you on the safe?

JK: Yeah, I was on it most of the night, but when it got around last call, I just begged Dan Branton, "Dan, please, get me out of here by last call." Yeah, that was fun. We shot that first, flying about 75 feet in the air.

Sean Penn is a fan? Are you friends?

JK: That was I think when I met Sean that time, his son Hopper Jack was a big van of Viva La Bam. I think I'd met him before, so that was Bam's- - he came down for Bam's show. Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Sean Penn's.

Will you be back on Bam?

JK: I did one episode that one season and I just got back from Russia with the wild boys. Before that I went to Argentina with them.

What did you do in Russia with horse cum?

JK: Yeah, that was unbelievable. We were at a horse insemination facility doing a little bit on how horsies are made. So we helped- - we were extracting the semen from the horsie and the stud horse comes out and there's the philly in the middle of the field, her feet are tethered down. He tries to do what horsies do to make other horsies and we're standing there, it's almost like a leather shotgun case. It's like a faux horsie thing. So when he goes to mount in, there's a gaucho there, and Argentine cowboy who steals the horsie's penis and puts it in the fake one. So we extract that stuff and I have it and I'm like, "Pontius, will you check this out and see how it is?" And then there was a dialogue between the star and the director. "Jeff, if I do this, do I get a bad night? Can I be bad one night?" "No, you were bad last night. You already had your bad night." That goes back and forth and Jeff's like, "You can have half a bad night." This goes on five or ten minutes. "Jeff, will you just shut up? He's going to do it. You've got a bad night." And bottoms up.

What stunts did you do for the film?

JK: As much as they'd let me. A couple of times the producer would step in and go, "If you break your arm doing this, we gotta go down for four weeks." So I'm up for whatever though.

Have you broken as much as Jackie Chan?

JK: No, no, no. That guy has broken everything. Burt has broken a lot of bones.

And you?

JK: I've had a number of concussions and sprains, stitches. God, I've been dog bit, stabbed, any number of things. I'm doing all right now.

How do you make Sean Penn laugh?

JK: I've hung out with him a couple times. He's got a good sense of humor. I don't know the secret.

What's your best Burt Reynolds story?

JK: He tells so many good ones, but usually there's a myriad of famous people involved. They're not ones to retell. Nothing bad, but just it seems really weird.

Any experiences with him?

JK: Oh yeah, he would come on the set, a very sweet guy. He hugs you, hugged Seann, and we'd kind of hang around until he decided he wanted to start. And we knew the stories were going to happen. We were just waiting for the stories. It's like waiting for Higgy in the Iceman Cometh. We're just waiting for the stories. Enrich our lives, Burt. And they would. It was great, great moments with Burt.

Is Willie as laid back as he seems?

JK: Boy, I'm surprised he's still standing he's so laid back.

How scary was the gang scene?

JK: No, that was fun. Everyone was just- - this whole film was great. We shot a version in Louisiana and we shot a version here and I think they added a joke or something so we shot it again. It was good to see everybody again.

Will there be an unrated cut?

JK: I think it'll be R. It won't be unrated. We would do a take and get the PG-13 takes and then Jay would go, "Okay, let's do an R rated version." A lot of times that was already written, but sometimes we would come up with something.

What's going on with Jackass 2?

JK: I always said never and I don't know. It's awful fun going and shooting with the wild Boys and Bam. I don't know. I find myself jotting stuff down every now and then.

Do the guys make fun of you for being a movie star?

JK: Oh yeah, they get in their digs but I get mine back.

In touch with Spike Jonze, maybe a film?

JK: Yeah Spike and I and Jeff just had dinner. Jeff, the director of Jackass. We were just together last week having dinner. He's a friend of mine, I'd love to work with him. There's one thing that might happen but we'll see.

How long do you have to know somebody before punching in balls?

The guy from Inside Edition or Xtra I knew about five minutes. The director had said something to him and he was like, "Oh man, we used to play [UNINTELLIGIBLE] back in college." He was really acting like- - he was sitting there covered, basically just asking for it. So upon leaving, I went for him and just barely missed. He was laughing and then about five minute later, I'm walking down the hall four floors downŠ. [tape flip] ..

How often do people come up and hit you?

JK: Sometimes that happens. When girls do it, it's a little uncomfortable. There's no retaliation. Put a cigarette out on your arm or a lighter, you're like oh, or punch you in the chin. But when guys do it, it's pretty much on.

Were there things you were forbidden to do on Jackass?

JK: Yeah, there were some things. We would probably edit ourselves more than MTV did for the movie, trying to avoid imitatable stuff. I never like pulling pranks on women and kids. Kind of like Al Pacino in Scarface. They're getting ready to blow up, he's like, "No kids."

The paper cut?

JK: I didn't like that. I never rewatched that.

What's coming up?

JK: Well, I got two films coming up. Did we talk about "Daltry Calhoun"? It comes out in October. It's a Miramax film that Quentin Tarantino executive produced. It's a script by Catrina Holden Bronson. She directed as well. It's a great script and I saw the movie and I love it. It's a drama. There are some funny things in it as well. I play a father who basically the mother is dying and I haven't seen the kid since it's been born. I've been trying to find him. The mother's dying and she brings the kid back for me to raise.

Did you cry?

JK: I did when I saw it.

In the movie?

JK: Yeah, yeah.

How do you?

JK: Well, just within the story, I'm a father. You put yourself - - it doesn't take a lot when it comes to your kid.

How hard a sell?

JK: Well, I mean, I cry for a couple seconds. It's not like, "Come see Johnny Knoxville bawling."

But to let you do the drama?

JK: I've been really, really lucky. I've been able to do a number of things. I just hoe I can be able to continue to do that. After that, The Ringer is coming out, the Farrelly Brothers comedy, December 23rd.

First movie you remember seeing that left an impression?

JK: I remember having favorite movies as a kid growing up, but the first oneŠ my father loved all the old westerns and I remember watching a lot of the old- - my mom loved John Wayne, so watching John Wayne films or Cool Hand Luke. Our family ate dinner around the TV watching TV shows and old films. That's kind of how we bonded, one of the ways we bonded as a family.


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