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Jackass: The Interview
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*

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Johnny Knoxville tests his mettle against an angry anaconda -- for the sake of getting footage.

GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)

Stepping into Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine’s posh suite at the Clift Hotel, one might expect to find shattered TVs, chairs reduced to so much kindling or, at the very least, a broken bottle or two. After all, Knoxville is the same guy who, in 2002’s Jackass: The Movie, played high-speed bumper cars with golf carts, entered his rental car in a demolition derby and fought former IBA super heavyweight champion Butterbean in the middle of a Los Angeles boutique. Wherever he goes, mayhem follows.

Yet, save for a few bottles of artesian water from Norway (chic!) and a lavish candy display, the room is immaculate. Knoxville is politely posing for a series of photographs, while Tremaine, decked out in a hot-pink sweater jacket, is conversing in hushed tones with an onlooker. Then, without warning, someone punches Tremaine in the groin.

Yeah. That’s more like it.

It’s been four years since Knoxville and Tremaine, who directed Jackass for MTV and the big screen, teamed up with fellow cast members like Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O and Jason “Wee Man” Acuņa to create a feature-length highlight reel of painfully stupid human tricks. During the layoff, Knoxville scored lead roles in modest hits including Dukes of Hazzard and The Ringer, while Tremaine produced made-for-TV spin-offs (Wildboyz, Murderball). Now they’re back for another helping of abuse in the creatively titled Jackass: Number Two. The only question: Why?

“We’re idiots,” Tremaine says. “We really didn’t intend to do a sequel, because we thought we ended it on a perfect note the first time. I went on to do Wildboyz with Chris and Steve-O, and we were traveling around the world. Johnny came with us to Russia, and he was so willing to kill himself for the camera. I told him to save it for the screen, you know? Let’s get the band back together. It took us a little while, but here we are.”

Fair enough, but why would Knoxville, now an established star, kill himself for the camera when he could be sipping tequila in his trailer, letting some poor stuntman take all the lumps?

“It’s not about killing yourself,” he says after a pregnant pause. “It’s about getting footage. I can only do two things – I can stand in one spot or hold onto something. That’s the limit of my abilities. And I’ve had all kinds of breaks, sprains and concussions, and a thousand punctures in my leg from dealing with an angry anaconda. But I still love doing this.”

Dealing with an angry anaconda is just one of the high-risk stunts Knoxville attempts in Number Two, which features filthier antics than even its predecessor. In another, he endures the wrath of a charging bull, taking a cue from one of his small-screen idols.

“We were watching Tom and Jerry,” Tremaine explains. “Tom’s running through the house, chased by a bull. He stops, puts on a blindfold and pops a cigarette into his mouth, and bam! The bull smokes him. Johnny turns to me and says, ‘Let’s do that.’ And I’m like, ‘OK. You do it.’”

Even so, Knoxville’s days as a human battering may be numbered, even with all the painkillers afforded him by the job. Is there is a long-term future for Jackass on the big screen?

“We’re the ones who said there wouldn’t be a second film,” he says after a moment’s hesitation. “We’re the last ones to ask.”

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