The story of the Jackass franchise begins in the late 1990s, when Johnny Knoxville moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of being a writer and actor. Among the ideas Knoxville had at this time in his life was writing articles for which he had to test self-defense equipment on himself, as a tribute to his favorite journalist Hunter S. Tompson, who did a similar type of journalism.
After some time without success, Knoxville was approached by skateboarding magazine Big Brother , where Jeff Tremaine (later to become an essential part of the Jackass team) was an editor. Tremaine convinced Knoxville to not only write the articles, but to do video capsules with him testing the equipment on camera. Several of what would later become the Jackass crew were also working at Big Brother at this time.
Around the same time, Bam Margera, who lived in Pennsylvania, had a group of friends and acquaintances who were filming his stunts , pranks and skateboarding sessions. Margera independently released her recordings with a cast that included, among many people, Ryan Dunn and several others who later rose to fame with Jackass . Margera's videos became a cult hit, and one of these found its way into Tremaine's hands, and he was interested in what he saw.
Tremaine flew Bam Margera to Los Angeles, where he brought up the idea of making a TV show about stunts and pranks, an idea that he, along with Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze – producer of Jackass , director of Her , who by this time was mostly into music videos – they were working. Bam loved the idea and they made a demo video.
The demo was offered to various television networks, including NBC as a recurring segment on the popular Saturday Night Live show , but no network was interested in the product. The show is eventually pitched to Comedy Central and MTV, and both networks are interested in the show, but Knoxville, Jonze, and Tremaine decide to sign a contract with MTV, since they offered more creative freedom.
After signing the contract with MTV, Tremaine dedicated himself to looking for the rest of the people who would later end up being part of the cast of Jackass , such as the famous Steve-O, who was working as a clown in a flea market at this time. Tremaine also invites his friend Ehren McGhehey to join the cast. The latest to join (and when the show was in midseason) was Preston Lacy, who auditioned eating four bananas with peel.
The controversial program debuted on October 1, 2000 on MTV, and lasted until February 3, 2002, having 3 seasons, 25 episodes in total. After the show ended, the cast reunited in 2002 to film what they thought would be the conclusion to Jackass: a movie-length version of the show, titled Jackass: The Movie . The cast made it clear several times that this film would be a send-off for the fans , and by making it for the cinema the production team had much more freedom in making the film, without the censors of television.
The film was released in theaters on October 25, 2002, and was the highest grossing film on its opening weekend. The rest is history. Nine years after the last project under the name of Jackass ( Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which premiered in 2013), Knoxville and the rest of the cast will return in Jackass Forever , which opens in theaters in Puerto Rico on February 3.
The Jonny Knoxville and the Origin of Jackass entry was first published on Movie Network.