Knoxville gets his inner geezer on
THERE is one moment in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa that a drunken Johnny Knoxville, at a club with male strippers and chasing people ‘‘like I was Godzilla’’, fell out of character. To transform into 86-year-old Irving Zisman, Knoxville had to spend three hours in the make-up chair, and a further two hours if he had to wear a fake chest and back. ‘‘And one time I went through five hours of make-up for the strip club and I didn’t even take my shirt off, because by that time I was so hammered I forgot that I had my front and back on,’’ he says. ‘‘In that scene I did fall out of character because I’d been there drinking for an hour before the dancers went on and by the time I did my little dance on the red carpet in the club, I was no longer an 86-year-old man. I was a drunk Johnny Knoxville in makeup, chasing everyone like I was Godzilla.’’ In Bad Grandpa, Knoxville’s octogenarian character, who first appeared during the final season of Jackass on MTV, gets his own film. Unlike the Jackass films, this has a loose story, and follows Irving and his eight-yearold grandson (Jackson Nicoll) on a prank-filled roadtrip to deliver the boy to his father. Some of those pranks, including the stripper scene, have Knoxville (pictured) close to being decked by unsuspecting members of the public, whose reactions are all filmed using hidden cameras. But Knoxville says he was never worried. ‘‘I’m good at getting people to that brink of punching me and then calming them down, and then making them angry again . . . I feel pretty in control,’’ he says. ‘‘Well, it’s a prick gift.’’ So far that gift has seen Bad Grandpa rake in more than $US100 million worldwide. Knoxville says studio Paramount Pictures actually suggested they make the movie eight years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Knoxville finally sat down with co-writers Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine (who also directed). After a year of solid writing, they took the screenplay to Paramount and the rest is history. As for casting, they found Knoxville’s young co-star in a Nickelodeon film of all places. Knoxville appeared with Nicoll in the 2012 movie Fun Size and ‘‘instantly fell in love with him’’. ‘‘I guess it was a Nickelodeon film – I don’t know,’’ he says. ‘‘It was a film in Cleveland, that I’m sure of. And he was seven. He just said the worst things to me and hit me in the zipper constantly. . . I love him.’’ So does Knoxville, who famously broke his penis in a motorcycle stunt in 2007 and used a catheter for three and a half years afterwards, wear anything to protect himself now? ‘‘I thought maybe – not for Jackson because he’s little – but to get a spiked cup, so the guys don’t see when they hit me,’’ he says. ‘‘But no, I didn’t wear a cup. I needed to.’’
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is screening now.