Jackass Forever Stars Steve-O And Chris Pontius Talk About The Spirit Of The Franchise [Interview]

More than 20 years ago, MTV debuted a little show late at night featuring a collection of gnarly dudes doing stupid stunts and pranking one another. That series, "Jackass," went on to be a global phenomenon, so far spawning four theatrically released films, the spin-off films of "Bad Grandpa," a handful of straight-to-video sequels, several spin-off shows including "Wildboyz," "Viva la Bam," and "Homewrecker," and more. The antics of a group of skateboarders and professional knuckleheads became an indelible part of pop culture. The road has been hard, and it has been long, but the cast members of "Jackass" have plenty of stories to tell. 

"Jackass Forever" is now available to rent on VOD, and the film is a hilarious return to form for Johnny Knoxville, Steven "Steve-O" Glover, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, and the rest of the "Jackass" gang. They've even introduced some new faces, like Jasper Dolphin of "Loiter Squad" fame and Zach "Zackass" Holmes, bringing "Jackass" to another generation of pain-proof performers. 

I grew up watching "Jackass" and "Wildboyz" and idolized Steve-O and Pontius, who both struggled in their personal lives (Pontius was homeless for years; Steve-O struggled with addiction) only to rise victorious above it all. These guys get knocked down and pop back up ready to fight some more, and that's genuinely admirable. I was blessed with the chance to chat with the wildest boyz of all about their careers, a "Wildboyz" reboot, the future of "Jackass," and so much more. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 

'Without skateboarding, there is no Jackass'

I'm a huge "Wildboyz" fan, and we finally got a little bit of "Wildboyz" in "Jackass Forever." Would you ever do "Wildboyz" again?

Steve-O: I don't think there's a chance that I would be willing to do "Wildboyz" again, because to take that further, which is what we would always want to do, we would have to outdo what we did before. We would have to take as big or bigger risks than we did before. And "Wildboyz" was the most dangerous show that we filmed. I wouldn't be interested in taking such huge risks with my life anymore, and I'm personally much more sensitive about the treatment of animals. When there's so much focus on shooting with animals, you end up in a lot of situations that you're not comfortable with. And I wouldn't want to do that.

Who are some of your stunt heroes? Who inspired you guys to get into hurting yourselves for a living?

Pontius: To me, just growing up skateboarding and doing that. If I have any heroes in stunts, it'd just be pro skaters that I looked up to, because really, without skateboarding, there is no "Jackass."

Steve-O: Danny Way.

Pontius: Danny Way. I like Jason Jessee, Jesse Martinez. So many. Chris Miller, so many awesome skaters. Without skateboarding, "Jackass" would've never happened. That's really what brought us all together. "Jackass" came from skateboarding, and it's just what a lot of skater guys would do when we're not skateboarding.

'As reckless and irreverent as we are, we only target ourselves'

"Jackass" is interesting because it is a bunch of skater guys, but somehow there's no toxic masculinity, it's queer positive, it's body positive. Did you guys set out to make a show that was really anti-toxic, or did it just happen naturally?

Pontius: I think to me, it was just about being funny and doing what makes us laugh and not being afraid to be called names — especially at the time when this started, the world was a lot different place. I think we grew up in a world where gay people were [considered] sexual deviants, literally. Not being afraid to just to do what's funny, and if someone's going to call us a name or whatever, who cares? And being naked's funny, and just not being afraid to do what makes us laugh. If it's ahead of its time, everybody can catch up later. Or just once somebody is brave enough to do something socially, then it becomes okay. And the world, we evolve.

Steve-O: I love that you asked that question, because I've always been really proud of the fact that "Jackass" is in such a good spirit. We've always been very respectful of third parties. We're never out to make anybody feel bad. We're not mean to anybody. It's just all feel-good stuff. As reckless and irreverent as we are, we only target ourselves and we're attention whores. We love the attention. So, I think that it's really permissible to watch us give ourselves a hard time, and it's really wholesome that we don't give anybody else a hard time. That's something I'm really proud of.

'I think we're never going to say never again'

How does it feel watching the next generation come in and take the reins and do some of the more painful stunts so you guys don't have to? And is there a future for "Jackass"?

Pontius: All the new guys and girl fit in really great. And yeah, it was just fun filming with them. Poopies seemed like he belonged with us from day one. And is there a future? Every "Jackass" movie has been like, Knoxville said was going to be the last "Jackass" movie, and then we end up making another one. So, yeah. Is there a future in "Jackass"? I think we're never going to say never again, so I just think it's awesome that this group got to work together again. I think we're definitely going to be doing something in some form in the future — and more often, if we have anything to say about it.

'Jackass is a big celebration of failure'

Both of you have had a very unusual rise to fame. You've both been through a lot in your personal lives. Do you have any advice for fans out there for when they get knocked down, about how to get back up again?

Pontius: Yeah, I think just with failure — and "Jackass" is a big celebration of failure — but I think if you get knocked down, you just haven't done it yet. I think a lot of people are afraid of failing in life and I've never really liked seeing that. It's like, you just haven't made it yet. It's like a skateboard trick. You didn't fail, you just didn't make it yet, and you've just got to keep trying.

"Jackass Forever" is streaming on Paramount+ and available to purchase on Digital.