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The Jackass Stunt That Could Have Killed Johnny Knoxville If It Wasn't Shut Down

It's safe to say that the age-old lesson of knowing your limits was never entirely understood by the "Jackass" crew. In their latest big-screen outing, "Jackass Forever," Johnny Knoxville and the rest of his team were back, breaking limits and themselves for our entertainment. However, it seems that this was the installment that finally gave Knoxville the wake-up call he needed — albeit one he received from the comfort of an ambulance stretcher.

Following filming, Knoxville admitted that he was ending his stunt career after suffering severe injuries, including a brain hemorrhage, for the film. After taking that major hit during the bull stunt, it was a reassuring revelation that he was finally calling it a day. Speaking to Variety during the release of "Jackass Forever," the stunt star admitted, "My family doesn't like me doing this type of thing. This is the most wicked bull hit I've ever taken." 

While turning down another round with a bull seems like a no-brainer, there were far more deadly plans that never came to fruition in the early years of "Jackass." Director and producer Jeff Tremaine recalled one idea he thankfully thwarted, which could have taken out Knoxville for good.

Johnny Knoxville wanted to get shot, but Jeff Tremaine was determined to stop it

Appearing on The Nine Club (via YouTube), Tremaine talked about stopping Knoxville from a deadly stunt and going to drastic lengths to ensure it wouldn't be done.

Deemed by the  "Jackass" director as "the only bit that I shut down during 'Jackass,'" the plan was to have Knoxville get shot with beanbag bullets he purchased himself. "He found this stunt guy that was willing to do it. He's lining up, and we draw a target on his stomach," recalled Tremaine during his gnarly trip down memory lane. However, Tremaine paused for a moment and decided to take what sounds like an unorthodox approach to the "Jackass" way of life. "And I'm like, 'Hold on. I wanna shoot one before we ... Let's test this.'" 

From there, they grabbed a watermelon and a piece of plywood to use as target practice with one of the three rounds Knoxville had purchased. "It didn't even move the watermelon. It just went right through the watermelon, right through the plywood behind it." Tremaine was concerned, so decided to next test the beanbag bullets against two pieces of plywood, ending with the same result. It's here where common sense would seemingly kick in for all involved — all, of course, but Knoxville.

Tremaine threatened to take all cameras to stop Knoxville's stunt

While Tremaine was already set on playing it safe, the target practice test left Knoxville seemingly unconcerned. According to the director, the "Jackass" poster boy didn't even bat an eye, saying, "Look, we only have one more. We're here, let's just do it." Tremaine made a last stand and replied, "No! Let's not do it! You do it, I'm taking all the cameras, no one's going to see it but you and this f***ing stunt man!"

This may have been one occasion where the voice of reason did win the day, but there was another instance where Knoxville did find himself on the receiving end of a firearm. It was a feat that became one of the first daring steps into making "Jackass" the world-famous phenomenon we know it to be today. The difference here was the added and unorthodox protection used during the stunt.

A saucy selection of magazines saved Knoxville from a gunshot to the chest

During an extensive oral history shared with The Hollywood Reporter, the "Jackass" team talked about one of their deadliest stunts that, had it gone wrong, would've ended their iconic journey before it even began. It saw Knoxville testing pepper spray, a Taser gun, and a .38-caliber handgun on himself in a self-defense study. Thankfully, some safety measures were taken. Knoxville explained, "I found the cheapest bulletproof vest they had on the market."

Understandably, when the time came for Knoxville to pull the trigger on himself — since no one else wanted to do it — Tremaine admitted, "We started getting cold feet about the bulletproof vest. That was so scary to me, especially because he got the cheapest one on the market." As extra reassurance, the director wedged in "a big stack of porn magazines, at least four or five inches thick, that went under the bulletproof vest." It seemed like a smart move in an idiotic situation. Until they suffered a slight malfunction before the gun was fired.

"At one point I'm standing there with the gun in my hand, trying to shoot myself, and all the porn magazines fall out," Knoxville explained. After presumably resetting that extra layer of protection, he finally fired the gun at himself. Knoxville said of the experience, "It's like someone took a shovel and hit you in the chest as hard as they could." Thankfully, as both occasions reveal, sometimes all it took was input from Jeff Tremaine — and a couple of extra magazines, apparently.