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The Untold Truth Of Zach Holmes

When "Jackass Forever" premieres on February 4, 2022, it will mark the fourth overall film in the "Jackass" franchise, and the first since 2010's "Jackass 3D. That's great news for fans who have been waiting for more than a decade to see the original crew return to the big screen to hurt themselves for our amusement. Many of the OG "Jackass" gang will be appearing in the film, including Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Dave England, Ehren McGeehee, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, and Preston Lacy.

While "Jackass Forever" will feature the same death-defying stupidity that we've come to know and expect, it's also going to look quite a bit different than the usual "Jackass" fare. Partly that's due to the realities of time. In addition to the four films, the original "Jackass" crew aired three seasons' worth of stunts on MTV. The original crew are all in their late 40's and early 50's, and all those injuries have had a cumulative effect. Filming "Jackass Forever's" notorious bull riding scene hurt Johnny Knoxville so badly that it effectively ended his stuntman career.

So, "Jackass Forever" will be adding some much-needed new blood. The next generation of professional masochists includes stuntman Zach Holmes, surfer Sean "Poopies" McInerney, actor Eric Manaka, rapper Jasper Dolphin, comedian Rachel Wolfson, and Dolphin's father Compston "Darkshark" Wilson.

Many of these names are unfamiliar to most audience members, but this guide will help. Here's everything you ever wanted to know about Zach Holmes.

He grew up watching Jackass and was inspired to walk in Johnny Knoxville's footsteps

Zach Holmes was born in Hobart, Indiana in 1991, and he was about nine years old when "Jackass" first premiered on MTV. As such, he's a member of the first generation of stunt-folks who grew up watching the show, and now he's carrying on the legacy. As Holmes told High Times magazine, he grew up in a sheltered Christian household and wasn't allowed to watch "Jackass," which only made the show more alluring.

When Holmes was about 10, he and his friends began filming their own skits and stunts on a mini-DV camera. One of his first stunts involved lighting himself on fire. The young Holmes researched the safest way to do it, but it was still "extremely dangerous." In the end, the risk was worth it because the video looked "f——" awesome." The video, titled "Chubby pants sets himself on fire," has racked up over 80,000 views on eBaumsWorld.

His stunt work caused him to drop out of high school and get his GED

After his early videos went viral, Holmes knew he wanted to make more of them. Often, it would get in the ways of his studies. In middle school, Holmes took a journalism class to learn how to edit and produce videos, but he would often screw around in class until he got kicked out.

In high school, Holmes and his friends continued to film themselves doing stunts and sold the DVDs to their fellow students. At one point, Holmes tried to promote his videos by playing a trailer for them in a video production class, including the video of him setting himself on fire. According to Holmes, the administration freaked out, called his family, and tried to get him in trouble. By senior year, he'd had enough. "Eventually, it got to the point where I dropped out of high school," he told High Times. "I dropped out senior year, got my GED immediately after and was like, 'F— this.'"

His breakout video was titled Suicide Vest

In 2016, Holmes gained worldwide attention when he uploaded an ill-advised stunt to YouTube. The stunt involved taping firecrackers to his bare chest and then setting them alight. Naturally, he called the video "Suicide Vest." The video kicks off with Holmes introducing the stunt and then saying "This should be fun," before lighting the firecrackers. Soon, Zach is writhing in pain and the camera is engulfed in smoke. The pain gets so bad that Holmes has to throw himself into the snow. Then, the video cuts to Holmes in a bathroom inspecting his injuries. "Suicide Vest" gave him third-degree burns and scarring that he still has to this day (via The Ringer), but it also netted more than 4.5 million views (via The Sun). 

Even better, "Suicide Vest" caught the attention of "Jackass" cast member Steve-O, who was impressed enough to invite Holmes to Los Angeles. The two became friends, and Steve-O mentored Holmes on his journey to becoming a professional self-injurer. Steve-O even gave Zach his own nickname, "Zackass."

Holmes' cactus stunt freaked out the great Steve-O

Meeting Steve-O led to bigger and better things, and the two began collaborating on their own stunt videos. In one of them, Holmes rides a skateboard into a cactus at full speed. The stunt gave Holmes a staph infection, and it took three months to remove all the needles. The damage was so intense that Steve-O intervened and took Holmes to the emergency room – which is saying something, considering Steve-O has done everything from snort wasabi to get a tattoo while riding in the back of a fast-moving off-road vehicle.

Going to the hospital wasn't as simple for Holmes as it would be for the average person, however. By this point, he'd developed a reputation with local doctors. "I told [Steve-O] how when I'd go to the hospital in Indiana, they'd freak out and usually try to put me on a psych hold because they didn't understand why I was doing all these crazy things," Holmes told High Times. "Doctors were starting to get p—– off that I kept coming in with different injuries. I had to start going to different hospitals."

He had his own stunt show on MTV

After the cactus video brought him even more notoriety, Holmes and his friends landed their very own MTV prank and stunt show called "Too Stupid to Die." For an Indiana kid who grew up watching "Jackass" on MTV, this was a dream come true.

On "Too Stupid to Die," Holmes' performed a variety of stunts that would be right at home in a "Jackass" movie. He snapped a rat trap on his nose. He inserted a metal screw into his earlobe with a power drill. He shot himself in the face with two stun guns. He also shot himself in the face with a paintball gun, knocking out a tooth. In one particularly memorable stunt, Holmes straddled a teeter totter, while his friends pushed a washing machine off the roof of a barn onto the other end of the plank, driving it into his groin (via The Chicago Tribune).

In his career, Holmes has sustained multiple concussions, sprains, lost teeth, and broken bones. In the end, it was all worth it. As Holmes put it, "Pain is temporary, but videos are forever" (via High Times).