The Hot Seat: Johnny Knoxville

A few words with the ultimate masochist.

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It's been ten years since the men of Jackass made their MTV debut. And after enduring countless stunts gone wrong, accidents gone right, crashes, falls and pretty much every other kind of self-inflicted punishment you can imagine, Johnny Knoxville, 39, and his cohorts, Steve-O and Wee-Man, are back for more. But while their new film, Jackass 3D, brings the boys to a new dimension, their stunts are as boneheaded as ever. You'll witness Knoxville riding a Jet Ski into a hedge, and scampering up a tall tree in a Santa suit, only to have it chopped down. Despite his impeccable track record of casual disregard for his own health, Knoxville reveals to us that he's actually not impervious to fear.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of Hot Seat interviews

What does MTV's retirement plan for you guys look like?
Oh man, we don't look too far into the future. Maybe we should.

This is the first of the three films that Steve-O filmed sober. He looks profoundly unhappy and terrified in some of the footage.
Well, even when he was using, he was always terrified. But what I think he was most scared of is doing this clean and the fear that he couldn't do the things he used to. But he quickly dispelled that. You can be just as rad sober as when you're getting loaded. Steve-O wanted to prove that to himself.

So it was kind of empowering getting launched into the sky, strapped into a Porta Potti?
Yeah, I guess it was in a way. He faced his fears and did it and got hilarious footage.

Your film is being released a few weeks after The Social Network. Do you ever feel like your time could've been better spent making billions on the Internet, rather than riding around on rocket skates?
I can't think of a better way to spend our time than doing what we do. People ask, why do you want to do another Jackass? We love it. And we're pretty decent at it. Nothing is as fun.

You have perfected the technique.
Yeah, by failing at everything. You do a stunt and succeed? Let's do it again.

You probably have more friends than Zuck does, anyway. The real kind, not Internet friends.
Wow, you really don't like this Mark Zuckerberg. [Laughs] You really got an ax to grind. Why don't you like him?

Because I want $7 billion so I can finally build that moat around my modest Bushwick apartment. Nothing personal.
Sure, sure. You just think he's a douche. Okay, that's fine.

When filming, do you have to be on guard all the time? Getting pranked by your fellow Jackasses isn't pretty.
Absolutely. From the time we started shooting in February to the time we wrapped in June, your head is on a swivel. It doesn't even matter if you're expecting something. Anyone can be got, because if you're looking forward for one second, anyone can hit you from behind. You don't know whether it's coming from the sky, ground, around the corner. We hit them from every angle, so there's no way to be safe.

That has to be tough psychologically.
Oh yeah. By the end, everyone is just a frazzled mess. It happens every film. Near the end, everyone just starts going haywire, because they've just been in a highly combative atmosphere for six months.

How does Wee-Man hold up under the stress?
Wee-Man is doing great. He's usually got the biggest smile on his face. Never in a bad mood. He'll get rattled too, though. But he's just generally a happy little mean bastard.

Good type of person to have around the office.
Yeah, Wee-Man is awesome.

He was probably pleased that he wasn't the one who had to dress up in a Santa suit and climb to the top of that soon-to-be-felled tree. How'd that feel?
Well, I dislocated my shoulder on that one. And I realized when I climbed up that tree, which was 40 or 50 feet off the ground, that I really wasn't that big of a fan of heights. I never realized that before.

Jackass 3D opens Fri 15.

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