I wrote Johnny Knoxville’s first Hollywood story in the ’90s and can recall it like yesterday when I got hold of an underground VCR tape being circulated around Hollywood. A young man with movie-star looks being tasered, bitten by vile animals, shot with paintballs and enduring all kinds of punishment that somehow was laugh-out-loud funny in a Three Stooges way. It got tense when he argued with his crew over who’d fire a small-caliber handgun into the flimsy-looking bulletproof vest he was strapping on. This was back when Michael Keaton was still in Birdman ... I mean Batman mode. Luckily, the vest held up and the tape became as valuable a calling card as The Spirit Of Christmas was for South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. MTV signed a deal and the Jackass empire was born. In their latest production, Knoxville and his Dickhouse Productions cohorts were in Sundance this week for the premiere of Being Evel, a thorough and thoroughly entertaining Daniel Junge-directed feature documentary they produced and which is being shopped for distribution. The film captures a lifetime of highs and lows of a maverick daredevil — one who transformed from an outlaw and into a 20th century pop culture icon who inspired a legion of X Games athletes and, not insignificantly, the outrageous stunts and sometimes tasteless frat boy debauchery evident in Jackass and Bad Grandpa. Here, Knoxville explains why Knievel meant so much to the Dickhouse crowd and what makes certain guys risk broken bones, just to push the envelope and entertain.

Johnny-KnoxvilleDEADLINE: I always wondered. When you got shot in that videotape, was that a good bulletproof vest?
KNOXVILLE: It was as good as I could get with all the money I had to my name. My mom had given me 300 bucks for Christmas, and so I went and blew my wad on that vest that was, like $299. I called the guy and told him, “Look, is this a good vest?” “Oh yes, sir, it’s the best vest.” I say, “OK, good. Because this is what I’m going to do.” I tell him, and he says, “Can we call you back?” And then they said, “We can’t recommend you doing that.” I’m like, “Sh*t. I already said I was going to.”

DEADLINE: So why did you do it?
KNOXVILLE: Because when Evel said he was going to something, he did it.

DEADLINE: It’s clear from the documentary that Evel would not back out of a stunt, despite high winds or anything else. This stuff seems so dangerous. Was there ever a time during Jackass that somebody stopped you on the grounds that you might kill yourself?
KNOXVILLE: Couple of times. Once, we were testing bean bag projectiles, maybe it was for the pilot or the TV show. We went over to this guy’s house so he could light me on fire. And I also wanted to get hit by these bean bag projectiles.

DEADLINE: At the same time? This whole process doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
KNOXVILLE: He had some credential. I don’t know, we didn’t ask for a lot of credentials. At the time, I was always ordering s*it online. This time, my director Jeff Tremaine stepped in. I’d bought these bean bags, these little squares, that they don’t make anymore because they get flat if used as projectiles, and they go right into you.

DEADLINE: Like a ninja throwing star?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. They would just kill people. We tested one against some wood and then a watermelon and both times they just flattened out, and Jeff said, “No, I’m not filming that today.” I was like, “Wait, I said I would do it.” So he took all the cameras away. And then there was another time, I mean there’s a few times, but I can specifically remember it was for Jackass 3, and we were shooting on the side of a mountain, near Donner Pass. We wanted everyone to go down Donner Pass, in a bouncy castle.

DEADLINE: Donner Pass, where that family engaged in cannibalism?
KNOXVILLE: The Donner family, which took a wrong turn and ended up having to eat each other.

DEADLINE: That doesn’t sound like good karma.
KNOXVILLE: Yeah, there was that black cloud hanging around. Someone had died on the ski slope that day that we were shooting. That put everyone on edge, weirded everybody out. We postponed it, Jeff and I just made the call. And then we ended up not doing it at all because we ran out of time. It’s hard to do these things when there is negativity in the air. We were all the way on another mountain, but you’ve got to have a certain mindset to do these things, and you can’t have negativity.

EvelKnievelDEADLINE: Like you, I grew up watching the dashing Evel Knievel do his death-defying jumps on Wide World of Sports. Watching Evel, years later in your film, he could barely get out of a chair. You are now doing great as an actor, but only after doing some crazy sh*t inspired by him. For how long do you ache when you wake up?
KNOXVILLE: Some days are better than others, but mostly I’m good, despite the nagging injuries. I blew my back out, and that gives me probably the most trouble, but overall, after all I’ve been through, I get around really good. I think a lot about my friend Matt Hoffman, who we also made a documentary about.

DEADLINE: He is a big part of the Knievel documentary.
KNOXVILLE: He’s our generation’s Evel Knievel. He has had 75 to 100 concussions, over 26 surgeries. When he shakes your hand, he has to hold his wrist because his arm has just had so many surgeries, there’s nothing to sew anything on to. So if he doesn’t hold his wrist with his other hand, you’ll literally pull his arm off. I worry about him. Compared to him, I feel great.

DEADLINE: The movie shows how you demonstrated your affection for Knievel with a special Jackass motorcycle stunt that ended badly. Explain what happened.
KNOXVILLE: Well, I broke my pee-pee.

DEADLINE: Yeah?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah.

DEADLINE: How does one break their pee-pee?
KNOXVILLE: Well, it’s what happens when you are given instructions by Travis Pastrana on how to flip a motorcycle, and you just don’t listen when the top guy out there tells you what not to do.

DEADLINE: You broke your pee-pee because you didn’t listen to Travis Pastrana?
KNOXVILLE: Well, I didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle, either. There’s that. He had to let the clutch out for me. Each time he would let the clutch out for me, he’d say, “OK, when you get to the bottom of the ramp, just give it as much gas as possible, and start pulling back.”

DEADLINE: What could possibly go wrong?
jknoxKNOXVILLE: The thing is, I wasn’t listening. Sometimes when I’m doing a stunt, you’ll be talking to me, and I’ll go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’

DEADLINE: But you’re so wired and feeling the adrenaline you are distracted?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’m processing it like, bzzzz. So you watch the footage from that day and you can see me saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. Yeah. Yeah.” He goes, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of the motorcycle, because it’s going 20 feet in the air and it will turn into a missile.” I said, “Got it. Got it. Got it.” And then, guess who let go of the motorcycle?

DEADLINE: Johnny Knoxville?
KNOXVILLE: It came down, and the handlebar broke off in my crotch. Travis runs up, while I’m still on the ground, and he’s says, “I have never seen that happen.”

DEADLINE: You got right up, though.
KNOXVILLE: I was in a lot of pain, and I felt like I was peeing my pants, and so I looked down, and every time my heart would beat, blood would come out of there.

DEADLINE: Oh, my. Like an artery?
KNOXVILLE: Well, they didn’t know exactly what was going on. I went to the emergency, we had an EMT guy on set and I said, “Is this bad?” He goes, “Son, we have to get you to the hospital right now.” Because they didn’t know if I was bleeding internally. I’d torn my urethra, and the doctor said a few more centimeters up it would have been good night, down there.

DEADLINE: These mishaps didn’t seem to change Knievel. How did this one change the way you handle your dangerous business? Are there lingering problems from tearing your urethra which, if I may editorialize, sounds horrifying?
KNOXVILLE: I’ve had two kids since then, so it hasn’t lingered. But I did have a catheter twice a day for three years afterwards.

DEADLINE: Dare I ask?
KNOXVILLE: It’s a plastic tube, like 14 inches long, and you have to get it in there and push down until it hits the bladder.

DEADLINE: [We pause, as breakfast arrives. Was I hungry?] So is this as awful as it sounds?
KNOXVILLE: Well, when I first started doing it, it was mostly the mental aspect of the whole injury that was difficult. And it hurt. But after a while, the first catheter of the day was tough, but a couple months into it, it was nothing. Like anything else you get used to. It was like…

DEADLINE: A Redcoat, reloading his musket?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. A little tiny musket … the world’s smallest musket.

DEADLINE: This movie got me all nostalgic for Wide World Of Sports, the thrill of Victory and the agony of defeat with that ski jumper getting knocked to hell. What did Evel Knievel on that show mean to you?
KNOXVILLE: Every f*cking Saturday. The biggest show on television. Were you a fan of Knievel?

DEADLINE: Like I am a fan of what you and your pals do. He was amazing and I was fascinated, but never in a “I’ve got to get on my bike and break some bones jumping over that thing” kind of way. You?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. I think that to every kid of that generation, there was no bigger star.

jackass gngDEADLINE: You’re 43, but a lot of the Jackass guys seem younger. Was he their inspiration as well?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. Bam Margera was the youngest, but he loves Evel as well. I don’t know how much it affected each of them personally, but I know that all of the guys look up to Evel. I mean, he’s the guy. Evel was the guy for doing stunts.

DEADLINE: All of the modern extreme stunts shown in the documentary featuring guys like Pastrana and Hoffman…
KNOXVILLE: All because of Evel. He did so many things, but just the whole idea of someone going that big and laying it all on the line, that didn’t exist, before Evel. There were some stunt guys before him, like Earl “Lucky” Teter and Joie Chitwood and some guys that who did spectacular things, but Evel took it to a whole other level. He was so smart, and he was such a salesman. So sharp. It seems like the X Games made a sport out of going big and laying it all on the line, and that came right from Evel. Some guys might have jumped further than him, but no one gave a sh*t because they didn’t have his presence, his charisma, his smarts, his ability to market himself. He was the whole package. In the ‘70s, there was really no one bigger than Evel, Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley. That’s how big Evel was. In lean times, you need that hero, the guy you can look up to who can do inhumanly great things.

DEADLINE: There is something so compelling about that breed of people like Evel who can lay it on the line, whether it’s surfing or skateboarding or the things you do. Just the whole notion of “I know I’m probably going to get hurt here, but I’m doing this.” Can you say what makes you guys able to do something I’m amazed to watch but which I would never have the courage to try?
KNOXVILLE: Well, I won’t ever put myself in Evel’s category.

evel jumpDEADLINE: I wouldn’t put you in that position. But you came to Hollywood with an act nobody ever tried before, and you built a lucrative career doing physically outrageous things. There has to be a common mindset…
KNOXVILLE: Well, my father maybe said it best, when Rolling Stone interviewed him. They asked why I do the stuff I do. He says, “Well, he’s like that Dominican ball player. He ain’t going to get off that island by bunting.”

DEADLINE: Did you feel that way back when your reps circulated the tape that became Jackass?
KNOXVILLE: Here’s how I felt. I felt like my daughter was just born, and I felt like I came out here to do one thing, which I hadn’t done, and that was to act. And I felt like I needed to do something to make some money, and quick. So I just started writing these pieces for magazines. I felt like I needed to make a move, and that move was the move I made. I don’t know if I saw it as a niche. I was trying so many things. I was doing commercials, I was doing PA work. I was going to work my way up in one of these areas, but I thought, “I’ve got an aptitude for this.” I guess anyone can have the aptitude to stand there and get run over by something, so maybe the word I’m looking for is, I had the will for it.

DEADLINE: Later, I cringed watching you in one of the Jackass movies where you were body-painted to match a billboard you stood against. In a bull ring. And it was clear that the bull wasn’t fooled.
KNOXVILLE: Well, I learned that bulls don’t care about color. All they care about is movement. When he came around that sign, I may have moved a little.

JACKASS THREEDEADLINE: What does that feel like, when you know you are about to get mauled by a giant bull but you still have to make it entertaining enough to be funny and not horrifying.
KNOXVILLE: Well, you can’t be dark. It has to be funny. So, that’s why I’m covered with paint and painted into that wall. Because it can’t just be a stunt. It has to be entertaining and funny.

DEADLINE: There’s the big difference between Evel and what you do…
KNOXVILLE: You can’t compare us. Even wasn’t doing it for laughs at all. His life was completely on the line every single time.

DEADLINE: Well, he said his greatest strength was an ability to relax in a moment of crisis, because the natural tendency to tense up makes for the worst.
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. That’s what I meant earlier about postponing if there are negative things going on. Because you do tense up and it is the worst thing. You have to be positive. And Evel had the most positive mindset.

DEADLINE: Even though the rest of his life was total crazy chaos?
KNOXVILLE: Yeah.

DEADLINE: So what do you feel when you see that bull coming around the corner, not fooled by your body camouflage?
KNOXVILLE: I can tell you it’s not humor.

DEADLINE: The bull looks unamused, almost as though he realizes that a joke is being played on him.
KNOXVILLE: Exactly, and he’s saying, “Oh that’s funny, huh? OK, suck on this.” So I know I’m going to take a hit. And I’m trying to think. I’m just trying to anticipate one step further than the hit. I’m trying to think, when he comes at me in a second, what position I want to be in for the hit, because if you’re not in the right position you’re going to end up under him. See, right before bulls hit you, they lower their head, every time. I found out, through years of getting run over by them, that if you jump right before they hit you, they’ll launch you up into the air, which is probably almost just as bad as getting under them, because, as you can see, I came down on my neck.

bullstuntDEADLINE: It is muddy. That help?
KNOXVILLE: Well, yeah, the earth is dug up, but when you go up eight feet in the air and come down on your neck, it doesn’t much matter. I got good bullfighters to jump in and distract the bull in case he was to camp out on top of me.

DEADLINE: That doesn’t sound like a good place to be.
KNOXVILLE: Yeah. That’s trouble. And this is off subject a little bit, but I have this tape of Mexican bull riding, where they put these spurs on their boots and from the side they spur into the bull and then see how long they can hold on. The bull fighters, they just take capes and throw them at the bull and run. And if the bull camps out on you, guys run at the bull, throw a tablecloth at it and then taking off running. But sometimes, the bull will just camp out and won’t get off. There’s no way to make messing with a bull safe. They make it really hairy.

DEADLINE: While you were researching Being Evel, did you stop at any point and think, “Wait a minute, when Evel completes a stunt, he breathes a sigh of relief for not getting hurt, and gets paid. If I do a stunt right, I’ve got to do it again because that’s not going to be funny.”
KNOXVILLE: Oh. Yeah. We’re not trying to make those stunts. Ours are designed to fail. And if, as you said, we ever do it correctly, we go again. Evel had to carefully design his to succeed because if not, he could have died each time out. That almost happened to us a couple of times where the outcome was really terrible. But Evel’s stakes were so much higher, each and every time. Maybe three or four times in each of our movies did I feel the high stakes, where the result could be forever bad. Evel faced death each time he jumped. You hear in the movie, his son Robbie saying, ‘I used to think you’d die every time you would jump.’ Can you imagine being a kid, watching your dad work, and thinking he was going to die every time he did it?

DEADLINE: Why were you so drawn to Evel Knievel that you’d put so much time into telling his life story? You didn’t sugarcoat. There’s the story of Evel taking an aluminum baseball bat to a friend who wrote a book about him that he initially blessed; or, when he took on the Hell’s Angels.
KNOXVILLE: We weren’t trying to do a documentary on the worst things he ever did, but we wanted it to be balanced, talk about his faults as a person, along with being one of the biggest icons of the 20th century, and a true American original. Right out of that tough ass mining town in Montana, and just bringing himself up from the bootstraps, and completely re-invented himself as a good guy who inspired a whole generation. He’s the guy. He’s the man.

DEADLINE: When you watched his jumps on Wide World Of Sports, was there a good chance you were coming home later with some ding on your body or your bike?
KNOXVILLE: I would try stuff, but I wasn’t the kid in the neighborhood trying the gnarliest, the biggest stuff. I played football, baseball, basketball, and my father didn’t want me to be injured and miss any of that. I remember one day I skateboarded down my hill, I was about ten, I had the Tony Alva skateboard, I lived on a tiny hill, and I got the speed wobbles and broke my ankle. Dad was so angry. He was scared, and he ran down the hill, he grabbed my Tony Alva skateboard and just threw it into the woods. He’s yelling, I’m screaming for my mom. So, yeah, he definitely inspired me, but as an adult you have a more complete view of him as a daredevil and as a person. And some of the things are tough to swallow, but when I think about Evel Knievel, I still feel like that kid.

DEADLINE: Much of his live was lived as an outlaw. Is that part of the daredevil mindset? Evel started his life on the wrong side of the law. Even when he wrapped himself in the American flag, he still cheated on his wife. He was nasty to the press, especially in his attempt to jump Snake River Canyon.
KNOXVILLE: I don’t know about the mindset. There’s a reason there is eight of us on Jackass. Often, we’re like, ‘You want to do it? I don’t want to do it. He’ll do it.’ I am a guy who limps home to his family, and so is Matt Hoffman, I think people have different personalities whether it’s Bam or Steve-O. He’s calmed down, but he can still deliver on the stunts. You can’t really change someone’s spirit, really. People can change habits and impulses and fix things about themselves, but they have a certain spirit that they can’t change. Matt Hoffman, when he isn’t doing the stunts, he’s the sweetest person you’ve ever met, so gentle and the ultimate family man. Totally different from Evel in that way, but not in this way. When we were doing the documentary on him, he had been told that after so many surgeries and a bad car wreck that he can’t land on his shoulder again, ever, or his arm is going to be done. Useless. Right before we were going to release the doc we were doing a demo at one of our screenings, with a big ramp. I hear that Matt was riding again after a long time and I called him, I said, ‘Buddy, you know I love you. I hear you’re riding again. You know what’s at stake. You don’t have to do this, you don’t have to ride to promote this movie. But he’s all excited. ‘Oh, no, it’s great. Everything’s fine. I just built this new bike out of bamboo, it’s got no brakes on it, and I’ve been riding that on the big ramp.’ I knew at that point, I’m not going to reach him, so I said, ‘Okay, I love you. Be careful.’ His family is important to him, but this is his whole life. And so, yeah, he’s got a bamboo bike with no brakes so he can keep riding. I’m going to talk sense to this fu*king guy? But you can do that kind of thing and still be a very respectable family man, even if Evel didn’t make that choice.

evDEADLINE: How much of it was the need to raise the stakes? One beautiful blonde wasn’t enough. He needed three in one night.
KNOXVILLE: Why did he live like that? His wife at home was just beautiful. Ego had to come into play and self worth. I don’t want to dime store psychoanalyze. He grew up, his parents weren’t around. It’s tough growing up in the toughest ass mining town in America, basically like growing up in the Old West, without parents. His grandparents were around, but they were older. There’s this story his cousin, Congressman Pat Williams tells about how he hit Evel and almost knocked him out. Evel just gets up, and runs full speed into a cabinet. Gets up again and says, ‘See, no can can hurt me.’ He’s like four or five. That to me says more than almost anything in the movie that he was born that way and growing up without parents doesn’t help calm that. We could have done a whole documentary on Evel’s life before he started jumping.

DEADLINE: Share a story.
ev hockeyKNOXVILLE: He was so smart from a salesman aspect. Like when he got the Czechoslovakia National Hockey Team to come to Butte, Montana for a game when he was like 19 or 20. It’s like, what the f*ck? That whole story is mind bending. He played, but he left in the second period. With all the money from the hat he passed around, and all the receipts from the game. The US Olympic committee had to help get the Czechoslovakian team out of Butte, Montana because they had no money because Evel ran away with it all, and didn’t get caught. And then he did well as an insurance salesman, but it would have bit him in the ass because he was selling policies to people in mental institutions. There was disappointing stuff to hear about your hero. He ran a racket, selling protection to bars and they just knew if they didn’t pay, they were going to get robbed. By Evel. I don’t think they pressed it because they all loved him. One time a bar got robbed, and the owner knew it was Evel. He talked to Evel when he came in for a drink, about what it cost the bar owner. A day later that money was back in the register. Most of the time, that didn’t happen. Evel kept the money he took.

DEADLINE: Have you and your Jackass mates gotten to the point where you question the need to staple your nutsack to the side of your leg?
KNOXVILLE: That’s a question you’ll have to ask Steve-O. That wasn’t my big thing.

DEADLINE: What’s your signature?
KNOXVILLE: My contribution to Jackass stunt-wise would be the testing of gravity through blunt force trauma. And proving that gravity wins every time. Every time I go through it, I go, ‘Goddam that Isaac Newton was right.’

DEADLINE: You haven’t shut the door on another Jackass movie?
KNOXVILLE: No. I’m open to it. We’re just terrible planners. And more Bad Grandpa. I love that kid, Jackson Nicoll, whose parents send me the funniest pictures of him. One was him sitting at a table with four adults, he’s getting this facial with a pie, by the people he’d just beaten in a pie eating contest. So much fire in him. He knew he was brought on the movie to act up, and he didn’t disappoint. Even between takes he gave us total hell. You had to cover yourself all the time or he’d get you. And when I brought my kids to the set he couldn’t have been sweeter. But we’d rattle his cage every chance we got. I’m open to that idea, and we’re working on a couple others. One I’m really excited about is called Action Park.

DEADLINE: What’s that?
grandpaKNOXVILLE: Bad Grandpa was like a narrative movie with pranks. This is a narrative movie with stunts, more of a narrative than Bad Grandpa, but you know all the stunts will be designed by me, and I’ll be doing them for real, and we have a script we’re really happy with. The goal is a big, fun ‘80s type comedy. It’s about this park in New Jersey, it actually existed. I don’t know if we’ll call it this, but there was this park called Action Park and it was like as if us, instead of doing Jackass, decided to open a theme park. It has that same spirit, like all the safety was left up to the people who walked in.

DEADLINE: No wonder it’s not there anymore.
KNOXVILLE: The design of the rides was built about as cleverly as we build things. I mean most of the kids were like early 20s or teens, and I suspect they were not sober a lot. The stories about Action Park are well documented. In our movie, we have this theme park where I’m the designer of the rides. That one seems closest. Right now I’m doing one in New Orleans, Elvis & Nixon, with Michael Shannon playing Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon. I play Sonny West, Elvis’s security guard, who goes with Elvis to the White House. Two of the best actors of their generation. I’m still writing ideas for Jackass. I have not put all that behind me.

steveoDEADLINE: There were some stunts in Bad Grandpa, like you being catapulted through a glass window…
KNOXVILLE: We had so many stunts added on to the end of the film, because we wanted to get all of the footage and then send me off to stunt land, but the by the time we got around to them, the movie and the relationship between me and the kid was so good we felt the stunts would hurt it. I’ve got plans for some big stunts. I’ve written 60 ideas for if we ever do another Jackass, probably more than that. I get ideas all the time, write them down. We haven’t made a decision to. I’ll do a movie with Jackie Chan in China for three months. It’s called Skiptrace. Jackie’s a big hero of mine too, for doing all that stuff for real.

DEADLINE: Considering you made that early tape hoping to get attention as an actor, making movies with Spacey, Shannon and Chan sounds like you’re getting there. Is there a knack for having a reliable niche like Jackass without it marginalizing the way they regard you as an actor?
KNOXVILLE: The biggest limitation on my acting was, I had to do work harder at the movies I was going to do. Early in my career I made a lot of bad choices for projects. I wasn’t choosy enough. I had to really step back and think. Do I want to be that guy who never says no and makes poor choices, or take this very seriously and make a plan. That was on me. I refocused, in a lot of areas of my life, and I’m in a much better place. I’m ready.

DEADLINE: Was there a movie you didn’t get that you’d have killed for?
KNOXVILLE: At the time, I really wanted to play Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. But though I may have wanted to, looking back I wasn’t capable because I wasn’t focused enough. I was all over the place. That’s the only one that really jumps in my mind like, “I wish I could have done that.” I identified with and was inspired by the man, and I felt I knew where he was coming from. But I just wasn’t disciplined enough then. Things happen for a reason. I am disciplined enough, now. Hey, you need to answer that phone?

DEADLINE: [I look down. It’s Peter Bart, the former Variety editor with whom I write a Sunday column for Deadline. It goes to voicemail]
KNOXVILLE: Why are you laughing?

DEADLINE: I am remembering when the first Jackass movie came out. Peter, who Variety editor, once ran Paramount in its heyday with Bob Evans. He was embarrassed and offended and wrote this was a stain that could never be removed from Paramount’s legacy and I remember wondering if I should tell him how hard I had laughed through the entire movie.
cartKNOXVILLE: I remember there was a certain executive at Paramount, when we made the first movie, who felt the same way. We always made our first screening very long because we test out bits to see which work and which don’t. After they saw the first screening, the person was so upset and was just completely taken aback. We felt like lone wolves. But Paramount has been a great partner for us and they stood by us the whole time and let us make the things we wanted to. They never once visited the set on Jackass and what studio can you say that about?

DEADLINE: Well, what notes are they going to provide. Use a red and not a black bowling ball to drop on that guy’s nuts?
gatorKNOXVILLE: That’s true, but even on that first movie, they really backed us. Sherry Lansing was great on that first movie, which cost $6 million and I think we made $22-23 million our first weekend. Nobody died.

DEADLINE: You keep saying that you’re not worthy to be compared to Evel Knievel, but you’ve got to take a bit of credit; you created a commercially viable niche from whole cloth, just like Evel.
KNOXVILLE: Like my dad said, you’re not getting off that island by bunting.