'Jackass 3D's' Steve-O: 'I was really scared shooting this movie'
Fans of the "Jackass" franchise will be heartened to learn that "Jackass 3D" -- the third installment of the lucrative shock-stunt nonfiction series that reaches theaters Friday -- is at least as stupid, disgusting and bombastic as 2002’s “Jackass: The Movie” and “Jackass Number Two” from 2006.
Which is to say that in "3D," as with the other films, marquee Jackasses Johnny Knoxville, Jason “Wee-Man” Acuña, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Bam Margera, Preston Lacy and Stephen “Steve-O” Glover still manage to combine needless risk, intentional self-harm and ritual humiliation to achieve high-concept/lowbrow slapstick of the first order. (As much is also laid out in our story about "Jackass" appearing in today’s Calendar section.)
But outside the sequel's 3-D tweak, the biggest change is Steve-O Glover's sobriety.
In recent years, the hell-raising daredevil -- who famously jumped off London’s Tower Bridge into the River Thames and pierced his cheek with a giant fishhook, who stapled his genitals to his leg and climbed across a tightrope above hungry alligators wearing a bikini made of meat -- became so dependent on booze and such drugs as cocaine, ketamine, PCP and nitrous oxide that he became suicidal and had to be put on a two-week psychiatric hold to prevent him from killing himself. (Through it all, Glover filmed his downward spiral, which is shown in riveting detail in the documentary "Steve-O: Demise and Rise.")
Glover says he was under the influence of cocaine throughout the filming of most of "Jackass: The Movie," frequently bingeing on drugs for several days before shooting his segments, and showed up so high to the premiere of the second film that he urinated on the red carpet. He has, however, been completely off drugs and alcohol for the last 2½ years and faced significant fears to film his stunts for “Jackass 3D.”
"There was a lot of emotion about it," Glover said recently. “I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t lame.”
According to “Jackass 3D” director Jeff Tremaine, Glover’s participation in the sequel wasn’t simply contingent on him putting down drugs. His very survival depended on it.
“Jackass” ringmaster and breakout star Knoxville recalled how on the first two movies, beer was present (he took pains to point out that no one ever performed their stunts drunk). For “3D,” alcohol was banished for the duration of filming and cast and crew agreed from the outset to help Glover avoid temptation by helping him stick to his self-help regime. “On this movie, we really wanted to protect Steve-O’s sobriety,” said Knoxville.
Producer Spike Jonze (who helped co-found the franchise in the late '90s) added that Glover’s sobriety galvanized his performance. “You can feel it -– he’s so present,” said Jonze. “In the last movie, he wasn’t. He was in a dark place in his life. At this point, he’s so sharp and shiny and charming. He brought all of that energy to set.”
For his part, Steve-O admitted that removing chemical stimulation from the equation didn’t exactly make his stunts more pleasurable to perform. But his palpable revulsion at having to perform them, seen throughout the film, is part of the payoff for viewers.
“Being clear-headed and present certainly didn’t make filming a ‘Jackass’ movie any easier,” Glover said. “I’m dreading the stuff I do in the movie. I think that’s what people want to see. I’m dreading it more than ever, but I’m also more eager because I did want to prove -– to myself as much as anyone else -– that I still had it in me."
Chief among those contributions, the stunt dubbed “Poo Cocktail Supreme”: a sequence in which Glover was strapped into a porta-potty containing 50 pounds of dog and human feces and catapulted 120 feet into the air via twin bungee cords.
“I have this crazy little dog. I walk him every day,” said Glover. “Every time my dog poos, I pick it up with the little doggy bag. And honestly, for the rest of my life, every time I pick up my dog’s poo, I’m going to look at it and hold it in my hand and think: ‘Dude, I am gnarly!’ ”
-- Chris Lee
Top photo: Johnny Knoxville in "Jackass 3D." Credit: Paramount Pictures
Bottom photo: Steve-O at the 2006 premiere of "Jackass Number Two." Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press