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Things Jackass Fans Might Not Know About Johnny Knoxville

Unless you're part of the "Jackass" crew, not many groups of friends can say they've made a living via outrageous stunts that almost certainly resulted in injury. "Jackass" co-creator and alum Johnny Knoxville is famous for videos that go beyond the limits –– and then beyond those limits. He's been in the limelight on and off for decades, yet there's still plenty of tidbits "Jackass" fans might not know about him.

Though Knoxville is best known for his antics during the "Jackass" franchise, which has graced TV sets and movie screens alike, he has starred in countless other films that don't involve him, well, risking his life with his buddies. Knoxville even, once upon a time, received an offer from a renowned sketch comedy and variety show that takes place on Saturday nights. The actor, comedian, filmmaker, and stunt performer has lived a prolific life –– and here are things "Jackass" fans might not know about Johnny Knoxville.

His real name isn't Johnny Knoxville

Actors (and people in creative fields) routinely change their names. Anything to get an edge in an otherwise difficult profession to break into. If you've ever thought that Johnny Knoxville's name sounds made up, then you're mostly right. His real name –– drum role, please –– is Philip John Clapp. That is, at least, the name he was born with. Naturally, Johnny would appear to come from his middle name and, in all likelihood, the Knoxville portion comes from where he was born and raised – Knoxville, Tennessee.

Not only is Knoxville's name a nod to where he's from, but it just sounds right for his profession — though there's nothing wrong with Philip John Clapp. Nevertheless, now you have the perfect question for trivia night to beat your friends. The name "Johnny Knoxville" is now synonymous with practical jokes, stunt performances, pushing the limits, and a legendary "Jackass" all-star.

He had a lot of medical issues as a child

Knoxville is no stranger to injuries and hospital visits –– it comes with the territory of being a stunt performer –– but he also, unfortunately, had many medical issues as a child due to his asthma. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he details his asthma issues (which he still deals with today) as a child: "It was a really nice childhood, and I was really coddled," Knoxville said. "But I was also sick a lot." 

His asthma was so bad that he couldn't do childhood activities, such as playing in the leaves. Knoxville even had stints in which he had to spend several days to a week in the hospital. He said he almost died at the age of eight as a result of having the flu, pneumonia, and bronchitis all at the same time. Yet his chronic lung disease didn't stop him from playing sports because he "didn't want to be left out or feel like a victim."

He briefly attended the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts

It's natural for people to aspire to be actors, as the career is seemingly accompanied by fame and riches. Though a young Knoxville presumably shared that sentiment, he found out the hard way that it's not actually that easy.

Johnny Knoxville is technically a classically trained actor ... even though his training was never formally completed. According to The New York Times, Knoxville moved to Los Angeles after high school and attended the Pasadena School of Dramatic Arts. He, however, dropped out after six weeks.

Knoxville told The Washington Times that he wanted to be an actor since he was 13 "because it sounded like a job with the least amount of work involved." That likely explains why he moved to Los Angeles. As luck would have it, Knoxville would eventually make it in the acting world without a fancy degree. Yet it took some time and a unique career path, from writer to self-defense equipment tester to actor.

His first acting credit was an appearance on The Ben Stiller Show (and other roles fans might have missed)

It's always fascinating to see where celebrities got their start and eventual big breaks. Though many audience members might have first seen Knoxville on "Jackass," which started as a TV series on MTV, his inaugural acting credit was actually an appearance on "The Ben Stiller Show" in 1992. It wasn't a major role, as Knoxville was a featured extra as a Cure fan. His costume is classic. Even celebrities as successful as Johnny Knoxville have to get their start somewhere.

Other roles audiences might have missed Knoxville in include a "college guy" in "Coyote Ugly" in 2002, as well as Bob (as Phillip John) in "Desert Blues" in 1995. Though he had already made a name for himself, audience members might be surprised to learn that he voiced Johnny Krill on "SpongeBob SquarePants." All the same, Knoxville has played a plethora of roles outside of his masterpiece performance as himself during the everlasting "Jackass" franchise.

Jackass' origin story involves Knoxville proposing the idea to test self-defense equipment

Though viewers might recall that "Jackass" was a TV series on MTV before hitting the big screen, it started as a much smaller idea than that. Knoxville, according to The New York Times, was a writer for skateboarding magazine Big Brother, where he "proposed a story for which he would test self-defense equipment, like pepper spray and stun guns, on himself." Magazine editor Jeff Tremaine suggested Knoxville film the experiments and the rest, as they say, is history. This idea morphed into what fans have come to know and love as "Jackass."

"We were on the air, and ratings exploded, and I'm on the cover of Rolling Stone," Knoxville told GQ in a 2021 interview. "It just happened in an instant."

The show has been successful to the tune of three seasons, countless movies, and a myriad of spin-offs, which include "Wildboyz" and "Viva La Bam." "Jackass Forever" indeed.

Though he's known as a stunt performer, he has numerous writing credits

Knoxville is widely known as a stunt performer on, naturally, "Jackass." But fans might not know that he also has numerous writing credits. According to his IMDb page, Knoxville has 15 writer credits, which include projects such as "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," "Action Point," and many others — including the mainline "Jackass" movies.

He'll always be a stuntman first, but writing has played a big part in his life and helped him get his start. "Writing gave me confidence as a person," he told GQ in a 2021 interview. "It was like, I don't have to just worry about trying to make it. I can do this and feel satisfied and engaged." Luckily for fans and Knoxville alike, the writer-turned-actor did make it –– and he made it big enough to have the ability to turn down illustrious acting roles.

He turned down an offer to be a part of Saturday Night Live

Many acting careers have taken off after appearing on sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live." Yet, that doesn't mean it's for everyone. Despite "SNL" being a launchpad, Johnny Knoxville turned down the long-running show right around when he was shooting the "Jackass" pilot.

In a 2005 interview with The Washington Times, Knoxville detailed his decision. "It was at the point where I either say yes to my friends, where we had all the control, or yes to 'Saturday Night Live,' where none of my friends were really going to be there and I had no control," he said. "I just thought I made the right decision."

Clearly, he made a great choice as Knoxville and "his friends" have all seen major success. In 2005, Knoxville hosted "SNL," proving that — with a little patience — you can have your cake and eat it, too.

He was apparently dosed with ecstasy during a promo shoot for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

You don't earn Knoxville's legendary status without some crazy stories at your disposal. During a promo shoot for "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," Knoxville told The Sun (via Digital Spy) that he ventured to a frat house at the University of Arizona — a seemingly ideal start to an epic joke. He was dressed up as his "Bad Grandpa" Irving Zisman character at the promo, and the students handed him drinks, with one of the beverages being unknowingly dosed with ecstasy.

"About 30 minutes into the screening, my heart starts racing and I'm like, 'I am x-ing right now, someone dosed me,' Knoxville said. "I was so happy because I haven't done x since my 20s." This led to an inevitable injury. "For the rest of the shoot I was just a train wreck, and we got a lot of funny stuff," Knoxville said. "But at some point I ruptured the tendon in my finger either busting through a table or climbing up a net."

Knoxville is a father of three, and he has been married twice

Johnny Knoxville might live a crazy and wild lifestyle on the screen, but, off the screen, he's a family man. He's a father of three and has been married twice. Knoxville and his ex-wife Melanie Cates had a daughter named Madison — now an adult who lives in Austin as of 2021. Yet the two have since divorced, and Knoxville is now married to Naomi Nelson. The couple had two children together, Rocko and Arlo.

To no one's surprise, he doesn't want his kids to follow in his stunt performing footsteps. He told Access in a 2010 interview that "Pranks are fine, no stunts. I don't want Rocco or Madison doing any stunts." Suffice it to say, his parenting techniques are far different from his acting methods. GQ noted in a 2021 interview that "[Knoxville] is notably attentive to the physical safety of his children."

Knoxville's personal struggles

Though Knoxville has had a perfectly splendid career that spans decades, he's no stranger to personal struggles. He told The New York Times that he was once "all over the place ... pretty much a train wreck. I was, as my cousin said, 'Fast, faster and disaster.' Those were the speeds I ran at."

While he landed big roles in movies like "The Ringer" and "The Dukes of Hazzard," his marriage with Melanie Cates collapsed. To that end, he eventually went into therapy for "a lot of bad behavior that cost me my first marriage." Yet he didn't believe the trials and tribulations of success and stardom were the causes. "I wasn't just totally solid and then, 'I'm getting famous!' and then the wheels fall off. I think I was running on two wheels for a long time."

For what it's worth, he told The New York Times that, when he started therapy, he had one request for his therapist: "I don't want to fix the part of me that does stunts. Just to get that out in the open. She goes, 'We could try.' I'm like, 'That's what I don't want to fix.'"

Knoxville helped Steve-O get sober in a unique way

Friends helping friends –– it's powerful stuff. And the lengths Knoxville went to help Steve-O is truly divine.

"We'd all had our eye on Steve-O because he'd gotten to a really bad point in doing all kinds of crazy drugs," Johnny told Access Hollywood Live's Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, of the 2008 intervention. "But [when Steve-O's] e-mails kind of hinted at [suicide]... I got 10 of our closest friends — big guys –- and went to his house." Knoxville & Co. told Steve-O he's either going to rehab or they would knock him out and then take him. Luckily, Steve-O decided to enter rehab.

Events, sadly, didn't go as well for Bam Margera as he told TMZ that he wasn't allowed to be part of the fourth "Jackass" movie after he refused to follow Knoxville's guidelines.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Knoxville had to self-administer a catheter for three years

Johnny Knoxville has encountered his fair share of injuries over the years while shooting "Jackass," as injuries tend to come with the territory of performing outrageous stunts. Yet fans who don't necessarily follow those off-the-screen injuries that result from the on-the-screen madness might be surprised to hear about the aftermath of one of Knoxville's most cringe-worthy accidents.

In 2007, Knoxville tore his urethra during a motorcycle stunt gone wrong while shooting "Jackass Presents: Mat Hoffman's Tribute to Evel Knievel." "I wasn't even supposed to do anything," Knoxville said in a 2021 GQ interview. "I think I just showed up that day and someone kind of threw out that I should try and backflip a motorcycle. I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, I got that.'" Unfortunately, Knoxville isn't, let's say, well versed in backflipping motorcycles — or riding motorcycles.

The result? The crash led to Knoxville having to self-administer a catheter for the next three years. Clearly, the legendary stunt performer will attempt virtually anything for a good video opportunity.