Knoxville reveals some of the magic behind his pranks
Bad Grandpa hit theaters on October 25th; and it debuted as the number one movie at the box office. We had the privilege of asking Johnny Knoxville a question over the phone, along with other universities. However, the transcripts we received only had the questions asked and the answers provided by Knoxville. Therefore, let’s pretend the Union asked all these questions, because it makes us look like better journalists. And it more or less legitimizes the paper. At least, that’s what we think. Enjoy.
Q: Based on the trailer, I’ve seen that Bad Grandpa can be more of story. In the previous Jackass films, you pulled pranks and stunts amongst one another. I was just wondering, why the sudden change in Bad Grandpa?
Johnny Knoxville: Well, we did a lot of pranks on the public on the TV show and as we became well—more well-known, we kind of have to focus. But when we do pranks on the public, when I would think the public, it was primarily the old man as the movies went on. So we’ve been thinking about this movie for a long time about doing a whole movie with the old man. And we just decided to commit to it. I’m glad we did because I think you guys are really going to like it.
Q: We’re just wondering, how do you hide these cameras? Like if there’s some dude in the corner with a trench coat or is there a different way to hide this?
JK: Well, that’s—we would have a van look like a work van that we would station close to where we’re shooting. And, you know, you couldn’t see in, but we could film out of it. And we would have cameras inside, baby strollers. And we would have [first cams]. We have all kinds of things. And sometimes we will get permission for pranking employees of a different—of a certain place. We’ll go in the night before and put up two-way mirrors. And so, it’s a whole involved process to hide the cameras so no one knows what’s going on.
Q: I was just wondering, it’s been a number of years since you first started doing Jackass, and your career has changed a lot since then. And I’m just wondering what it’s like to coming back to Jackass and doing the pranks again?
A: I mean we had a [ball] making this film. And it’s—it pertains the, you know, there’s a couple of stunts and a lot of pranks a lá Jackass, but it’s its own unique thing because of the story. So it’s a natural progression, but one we’ve managed to pull off—so I’m very proud of that and I’m just happy to be shooting again. I like doing pranks and stunts.
Q: What was the inspiration for adding in this story of a grandfather taking his grandson across country and establishing this emotional connection between the two?
JK: Well, we—Paramount wanted us years ago to do a whole movie with Irving Zisman. And eight—nine years ago, I didn’t see it. But in 2008, he was just trying to develop films and we thought, “Well, if we were going to do a whole movie with him, what would we do? We’d had to have a loose type narrative.” And we—the inspiration to the narrative we came up with was Paper Moon. You know, Peter Bogdanovich classic with Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal and he did this—where he didn’t know it was about her, but he has to actually drive her to a cousin or something. He has to drive to her two states over. And so that’s how we—that was the inspiration for Irving having to drive his grandson across country, it was Paper Moon.
Q: How difficult was it to persuade Jackson’s parents to let him be a part of such an outrageous movie? So, I mean the kid does a lot of crazy things.
JK: Oh, Jackson’s parents are the best, they are like—there is a reason he is solid and fearless and competent, and just—he’s just a brilliant kid. And it’s because he’s got great parents and they trusted us, thank God, and I mean Jackson has a sister who is just as smart and confident as he is, and I just wish they would go back to having babies because they have some wonderful children.