During a recent interview in New York, Knoxville is dressed in black jeans and a matching (if misbuttoned) dress shirt -- appropriately enough, given what movie he's plugging, but also all the more effective in calling attention to a set of sparkling, newly capped teeth. "Talk about success going to my head, right?" he says.
Creative Loafing: Your character in Men in Black II just sort of disappears before the end of the movie. What's up with that?
Johnny Knoxville: I think a scene or two might not have made it into the final cut of the picture, but that would be a question for Mr. Sonnenfeld.
Well, what was supposed to happen with your character?
Yeah, like I said, you might want to ask Mr. Sonnenfeld that. I really like the way the movie turned out. I was a huge fan of the first Men in Black. I thought it was really funny, and I think this one's even better. ... I enjoyed working with Mr. Sonnenfeld again, too [after a small role in last year's flop Big Trouble].
Gee, it almost sounds as if you're bucking for a role in Men in Black 3.
Hey, you never know. It can't hurt to stay in his good graces. For whatever reason, he's already put me in two of his movies, so who's to say?
I can't remember the last time I heard anyone refer to his director as Mr. whatever. Aren't you worried about what your fans would say if they thought the jackass they know and love was becoming just another Hollywood kiss-ass?
I can see the headlines now. That's a good one. I might have to borrow that.
What's the gist of your Jackass movie?
Oh, it's every bit as half-assed as the TV show was. Actually, we're pretty excited about it. It's coming out in October. We went for an R rating, so we could open it up a little more. It's definitely for adults, and it was neat not being weighed down by the same constraints as we were on television.
But is there a script or a plot or something? I'd read Spike Jonze was somehow involved.
No, no. There's no story or anything like that. It's a naughty, 90-minute version of the show, just one bad idea after another. We really wanted to push the boundaries. It's the show times 10, and we're really proud of it.
Are we talking franchise?
Oh, right! You mean, will there be a Jackass 2 to address all the unanswered questions from Jackass 1? God, if we wanted to try making a sequel that would top the first movie, it would probably have to be a snuff film or something like that.
What do you think appeals to people about "Jackass"?
I think everyone did those kinds of things growing up, testing their limits. There's a certain spirit on the show. We're just a group of guys hanging out and having fun. It's all in fun, just trying to make people laugh.
Had you always planned on getting into acting and making movies?
It just sort of happened. I started doing "Jackass," and then suddenly I had all these agents and managers sending me on auditions.
What about before "Jackass"?
Well, I grew up in Tennessee, and my parents wanted me to go to college, but I managed to talk them into letting me go to Atlanta to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts instead. I got accepted and moved out to California, and the folks begrudgingly agreed to help foot the bills.
So you actually trained as an actor, worked in the theater and all that?
Sure ... for all of like three weeks, and then I dropped out and went to Hollywood, where I started clubbing and making skateboard videos. Actually, I did study with an acting teacher for a number of years ... when I wasn't clubbing and making skateboard videos, that is.
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