It all started with Philip John Clapp, Jr’s pitch to magazines for a video series of testing self-defense equipment on himself. Clapp’s insane idea was picked up by Jerry Tremaine’s skateboarding magazine Big Brother, and thus the makings of the Johnny Knoxville legacy were born. Clapp, using the stage name Johnny Knoxville, started with Big Brother’s “Number Two” video and eventually fleshed found himself a star of the Jackass series in 2000.
Over the course of his career, Knoxville suffered a slew of injuries, but it was always hard to gauge just how many and how severe they were. To clear things up, the Jackass star sat down for a Vanity Fair piece to detail many of the more serious injuries he’s ever suffered, starting with his early days of being pepper sprayed and tasered.
The ten-minute-long video chronicles the actor, comedian, and stunt performer’s lengthy career of putting himself in the line of danger for entertainment. As Knoxville admits, “Pepper spray is still one of the most painful things I ever endured in my life,” and that’s coming from a man that’s broken bones and cracked his head open.
As he gets further into his stunt performance career, Knoxville discusses the roller jump across the Los Angeles River, filmed for the pilot of Jackass. He describes attempting to jump over a five-foot section of the river only to wind up with a broken ankle. That pilot led to three seasons of injury-laden television, five Jackass movies, and Knoxville’s latest endeavor, Action Point.
Before getting to 2018’s Action Point and the host of injuries he sustained during filming, however, Knoxville talks about his one-on-one against heavyweight boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch, during which he cracked his skull on a concrete floor. In the video, as he’s being tended to, he hilariously asks how Butterbean was.
Of all the cringe-worthy moments in the Vanity Fair video, the worst came during Jackass Presents: Mat Hoffman’s Tribute to Evel Knievel. During an attempt to back-flip a motorcycle, Knoxville’s bike landed on his pelvis. As he explains, “Every time my heart would beat, blood would shoot out the end of my penis.”
Despite every cringe-worthy injury he’s sustained, Knoxville, now 47-years-old, is still willing to put himself through hell for the audience. Action Point may have a plot, characters, and a supporting cast, but Knoxville is still center-stage, continuously putting himself in harm’s way for the entertainment of his fans and the sake of the box office.
As for the future of Jackass, though Jason “Wee Man” Acuna was sure it wouldn’t happen, in a piece with Entertainment Weekly, Knoxville states, “It’s possible, for sure. It’s not like we’re saying no.”