As soon as it aired, Jackass became an instant cult favourite.
The stunts always had a certain degree of chaotic (and at some points psychotic) spontaneity to them, and while you may think the MTV hit was one of the only ‘reality’ shows to not be staged, that wasn’t always the case.
The ideas may have come fast to Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and the rest of the gang, but many of their stunts took extensive planning and preparation.
Here’s how they pulled off some of their most famous (and infamous) bits.
Steve-O was actually meant to get a tattoo from Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx while riding in an off-road vehicle driven over rough terrain, but when he never showed up, they got professional musical yeller Henry Rollins to help – making Steve-O suspect he was being pranked.
As Steve-O was dating Rollins’ ex, he suspected the musician would show up and give him a good-natured beating. Turns out, Rollins just drove the ATV around as poorly as possible – but Steve-O wasn’t safe. According to Rolling Stone, director Jeff Tremaine took over duties on the tattoo gun.
Arguably the most disgusting thing ever attempted for TV, the Poo-Cano actually took weeks of preparation. Dave England, who spent a month preparing his body for the stunt, completely cut caffeine from his diet, then drank two extra-large energy drinks right before the stunt — which made his bowels especially sensitive, Looper reports. After eating ‘thousands’ of calories, he was ready to do what he had to do, until Chris Pontius made a last-minute addition: an enema to make things, uh, squirt.
You can thank cocaine for this stunt. The crew weren’t planning on staging anything, but did it anyway when Steve-O created ‘Wasabi Snooters’ – his affectionate term for any serving of cocaine. So he decided to snort a bunch of wasabi like it was his drug of choice, thinking it wouldn’t hurt considering his years of cocaine abuse. Turns out, it hurt so much he threw up.
The inspiration for this stunt was a series of 80s TV ads where a guy would put on some music, sit in a chair and the sheer power of the music would nearly blow him over. In Jackass 3D, the crew decided to re-create the ad but with the incredibly powerful engine of a jet.
Ryan Dunn was blown out of his chair, Bam Margera pissed into the jet stream, the crew staged a tea party, and Steve-O tried to ride a bike into it. Things took a turn for the worse when Loomis Fall tried to jump into the force of the engine with an umbrella – he broke his collarbone and had to have surgery on his hand. It’s the only time Jeff Tremaine has said he ‘really regrets doing’ a Jackass stunt.
Rent-A-Car Crash-Up Derby
The original idea for the bit was pretty simple: Johnny Knoxville would walk into a car rental office, drive a sensible car off the lot and into a demolition derby where it would be destroyed, and then he’d return the car. Turns out, normal cars aren’t used in demolition derbies and drivers heavily modify their cars so they survive.
So, the crew added in a couple extra steps: After Knoxville rented a Ford economy car, mechanics modified it and as an extra level of insurance, the derby was semi-staged. Many of the drivers were friends and family of Jackass cast member Ehren McGhehey. That all meant that Knoxville and the Ford lasted long enough to be returned to the rental car lot.