How the Jackass Forever team reunited after so long…..

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In 1997, Johnny Knoxville met with Jeff Tremaine to pitch an idea about testing self-defence equipment on himself: pepper spray, a stun gun, taser darts… and he wanted to put on a bullet proof vest and shoot himself in the chest with a .38 calibre bullet. Jeff thought it was a great idea and convinced Knoxville to film it. The footage came back so funny and so compelling, they decided to call Jeff’s childhood friend and director, Spike Jonze, and the three partnered up. Combining Knoxville’s self-defence test with a bunch of crazy footage of their friends, they made a pitch tape. And it was clear: this was something special, something that would resonate. Through their curiosity, camaraderie, and lack of fear, the idea for jackass was born. Jackass, forever defying expectations, went on for three seasons. “I didn’t think they would get past the TV series. I thought this was gonna be something we did for a few months of life, and then life would go on, and that was it,” says Chris Pontius.

Despite the gang’s continuing friendship, the likelihood of doing another jackass movie seemed to fade as they got older. Still, there were some members pushing for another one: “I’m one of the people that really pushed for this movie for the whole time. We did the last one in 2010, since 2011 I’ve been saying, ‘let’s make the next one,’” says Dave England. In that time apart, they all kept writing down ideas for a potential jackass project. “We’ve been continually writing and coming up with ideas and we never knew if there was gonna be another film but we were itching for it,” says Ehren McGhehey

“They’ve been wanting to do one since the last one. Every few years I would get emails from the cast. Sometimes lovingly nudging and sometimes a little upset, like, ‘why aren’t we doing something?’” says Knoxville. Finally, the gang got together for dinner at Steve-O’s house and raised the idea again. For the first time, Knoxville said yes. “We got together to have dinner and talk about it. We were pushing Knox to get things going on it but we hadn’t yet. Finally he said, ‘All right. Green light, it’s on,’” says Wee Man. What changed Knoxville’s mind after all that time? “I just got the urge. I’ve been writing ideas since the last one and I got so many that I started getting anxious. I had a meeting with Jeff at some restaurant in the valley and I said, ‘I’d like to do another.’ Jeff was in the middle of something and he was like, ‘Really?’” says Knoxville.

Their main fear about getting together to punish themselves again was, of course, their age. Chris Pontius, however, pointed out that they were already too old when they got started the first time around–what’s another decade or two? With the green light, the crew approached Paramount about getting the show back on the road. “They said, ‘Let’s do a test shoot to see if the guys have it again.’” says Wee Man. That test shoot, which took place in a backyard, returned them to the simplicity of the early Jackass days, only a little older and greyer. “Everybody was stoked, and we started doing bits, like, I snorted hot sauce in my nose. Chris put it in his wiener. The group was just laughing and dying,” says Wee Man. “I had forgotten how to do an intro and Jeff had to hold my hand a little in the beginning,” says Knoxville. With a little bit of guidance, however, he figured out how to say those magic words, “I’m Johnny Knoxville and welcome to jackass,” bringing everything full-circle.

After the two-day test shoot, it was clear that the magic they’d always had was still there. It just needed dusting off. It was a go from Paramount, but after just five days of shooting, the coronavirus pandemic shut down production. “I remember Spike calling me. It was my birthday and I thought, ‘Oh, Spike’s calling me, it’s my birthday.’ He’s like, ‘Hey, man. I think we’re shutting down,’” says Knoxville. They stopped the production until October 2020, by which point they’d almost forgotten what they’d shot. “When we watched the footage edited from the test, it was like I had forgotten about a lot of those bits because it was so long ago,” says Pontius. Back in the swing of things (albeit with more restrictions than a jackass set is used to), the rest of the shoot came off spectacularly. They wrapped the movie, a chaos-filled gift, in late December 2020. The world, it turns out, needs the freewheeling, no-rules world of jackass more than ever, and they’re excited to give it to everyone. “The thing that people like best about jackass is it reminds them of hanging out with their friends and having fun together. I think that’s why it’s timeless,” says Pontius.

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