I don’t know about you, but every time I think of Johnny Knoxville, I wince as my mind flashes back to one of his many death-defying stunts.
Watch Johnny is his infamous alligator bite stunt below:
The 46-year-old star became a household name (typically associated with moronic behavior) when he appeared in MTV’s black comedy reality show Jackass during the height of the channel’s fame in the early noughties.
This notoriety would go on to see him star in several movies such as Men In Black II and The Dukes of Hazzard.
But just as we were beginning to view Knoxville as an actor rather than a mindless stunt performer, he vanished without a trace.
Born in Tennessee, Knoxville first had a taste for fame after being inspired by his cousin who was a local singer-songwriter. After moving to California in search of a big break, he was left disappointed after only securing a few commercials and work as an extra.
Desperate to make it big, he tried a different approach. This time he wrote and pitched multiple article ideas to magazines. It was his idea to test self-defense equipment on himself for skateboarding magazine Big Brother that propelled him into the world of daredevil stunts.
From here, Knoxville birthed Jackass with the help of some friends. The show was ultimately picked up by MTV, but before this happened, Knoxville and his team rejected an offer from Saturday Night Live to perform their stunts on the show on a weekly basis.
The show attracted a lot of attention, but not all of it was positive. The danger that it promoted was a concern to many parents, who were uncomfortable with their children being inspired by the debauched behavior it depicted.
Despite many onscreen warnings that the stunts should never be imitated, Jackass has been blamed for many injuries and even deaths.
This controversy inspired Knoxville to hunt for a new career which wouldn’t completely blacken his name. So he turned his focus to acting. However, the majority of the movies he featured in bombed at the box office, taking his reputation with them.
This ultimately saw Knoxville phased out of the entertainment industry. To try and stay relevant, he began to bolster his acting credits by lending his voice to characters in Family Guy, Spongebob SquarePants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
To contribute to Knoxville’s fall from grace, the stunt star has also been the center of several controversial incidents.
The most notable of which occurred in 2009 when staff at LAX airport discovered a grenade in his carry-on bag. It was later determined to be a prop for a commercial, but, even so, the bad press surrounding the incident saw Knoxville’s name tarnished even further.
In addition, the father of three has also suffered several severe injuries as a result of his extreme pranks. Whilst on The Howard Stern Show in 2009, Knoxville revealed that he’d previously torn his urethra during a stunt. As a result, he had to wear a catheter.
But nothing could compare to the pain he experienced in 2011 when his close friend and Jackass co-star, Ryan Dunn, died in a car accident.
The 34-year-old stunt star perished, along with Jackass production assistant Zachary Hartwell, after the Porsche 911 they were traveling in hit a tree at extreme speed, before promptly bursting into furious flames.
A toxicology report found that Dunn, who’d been driving at the time, was twice over the Pennsylvania state’s maximum legal drink drive limit.
Knoxville was understandably devastated.
“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m just very sad because I lost my brother and my world got about 134 percent less funny,” he said in a statement released shortly after the incident. “I don’t know what to say right now so I will close with I love you, Ryan. I have a lot of emotions swirling, but I want you to know I love you so very much.”
However, despite all of this turmoil, Knoxville is starting to rise from the ashes and start fresh.
In 2013, his movie Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, in which he dressed-up to very convincingly play a dirty old man, smashed the box office after raking in $151.8 million – which is seriously impressive considering the movie’s $15 million budget. It was even nominated for an Oscar in the hair and makeup category but ultimately lost to Dallas Buyers Club.
This success saw Knoxville sign an exclusive deal with the prestigious Paramount Pictures, who he will continue to produce movies for through his production company, Hello Junior.
“I am over the damn moon about continuing an amazing partnership with Paramount Pictures,” he said. “I have many more movies to make and bones to break. I am glad I will be doing it for Paramount.”
So could this mean that we will be seeing a lot more of Knoxville? Is his career about to be born-again? Watch this space!