Back in the mid ’00s, Johnny Knoxville was everywhere. There were the lead roles in The Dukes of Hazzard and The Ringer, for one. Then there were scene-stealing turns in Men in Black II and Walking Tall. And, of course, who could forget his money-spinning self-injuring franchise, Jackass? But over the past few years, the star appears to have gone AWOL – and here are ten possible reasons why.
10. His injuries
It’s probably easier to list which injuries Knoxville didn’t sustain during his time as a daredevil stuntman. There was the sprained ankle that forced him to wear a brace for most of Jackass’ first season, for example. Plus, he received concussion from being knocked out by professional boxer Eric Esch. And let’s not forget that near-death experience with a rocket, either.
Of course, most agonizingly of all, there was the incident in which a 400-pound motorbike dropped down on his crotch and ripped his urethra in the process. Knoxville was still relatively young during his Jackass heyday, but at the age of 45, he’s perhaps no longer able to push his body to such reckless limits.
9. His family life
Knoxville already had a daughter, Madison, by the time Jackass debuted on MTV. In fact, the little girl speaks in the credits of Jackass Number Two and appears in the credits of Jackass 3D. But his family has expanded considerably since he divorced first wife Melanie Lynn Cates and married Naomi Nelson.
Nelson gave birth to their son Rocko Akira in 2009 and then daughter Ario Lemoyne Yoko two years later. And so perhaps Knoxville has finally realized that his duties as a father take precedence over his duties as a madcap stuntman – hence the lack of any recent Jackass output.
8. His critical reputation
It seems fair to say that Knoxville the actor isn’t exactly a critical darling, either. Indeed, Peter Farrelly’s execrable ensemble Movie 43, boy scouting comedy Nature Calls and small-town dramedy Daltry Calhoun all have scores of less than 10 percent on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
In fact, only three of Knoxville’s movies where he actually appears on screen are in the red on the site: Elvis & Nixon, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Last Stand. And it may have been that Knoxville’s lack of critical success impacts on the number of high-profile roles he’s offered.
7. YouTube pranksters have made Jackass obsolete
There was a time when Jackass was the only way of watching gluttons for punishment inflict injuries on themselves purely in the name of entertainment. However, ever since YouTube came along in 2005, the antics of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and co. have no longer felt quite as extraordinary.
Indeed, MTV may have issued a warning before each episode of Jackass insisting that “no one attempt to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed on this show.” But a whole generation of pranksters failed to take any notice and wasted no time in uploading their own efforts once YouTube allowed them to do so. Ultimately, then, Jackass’ unique selling point is no longer unique.
6. His face has become too familiar
Knoxville has become so familiar to the public that he actually had to bury himself under layers of Oscar-nominated make-up for his last hidden camera vehicle. Yes, in 2013’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa the star aged about 40 years to play the mischievous titular character who takes his grandson on a series of wild adventures.
Unless Knoxville is willing to sit in the make-up chair for hours on end, then, any further Jackass instalments would be far more difficult to stage than they were back in the early ’00s. Indeed, having already filmed in Japan, Russia and India, the team are fast running out of places where they would be able to prank the unsuspecting public without being recognized first.
5. The fourth Jackass movie has been delayed
Even if Knoxville did want to overcome his injuries, put his family to the back of his mind, go incognito and try to beat the YouTube pranksters at their own game, then a return to the Jackass franchise still wouldn’t be easy. Indeed, there are numerous production and casting obstacles in the way.
Most notably, there was the death of regular cast member Ryan Dunn in 2011. Moreover, Bam Margera’s troubles with alcohol addiction and Steve-O’s apparent unwillingness to commit also appear to have put paid to a Jackass reunion any time soon.
It seems likely that the choice of roles offered to Knoxville will also have been fairly limited due to his Jackass past. The star has built a reputation on being the trouble-making clown, and his movie career has undoubtedly reflected that.
Indeed, Walking Tall, Men in Black II and Big Trouble are just a few of the films that have kept Knoxville in this box. And although he’s landed the odd serious role, most casting directors outside the comedy field would perhaps struggle to see past his familiar persona.
3. He’s not making headlines
His Jackass co-star Steve-O may have barely been out of the tabloids since emerging as the stunt show’s most outrageous cast member in the early ’00s. But Knoxville himself has kept a relatively low profile away from Hollywood.
Sure, one time he was held at Los Angeles International Airport for traveling with a dormant grenade. And his divorce after 11 years of marriage inevitably made a few headlines. But his private life has largely been kept out of the newspapers, so when he isn’t working he stays below the radar.
2. His move behind the cameras
You may not have seen Johnny Knoxville lately, but chances are you might have heard him without actually knowing it. Since 2008, the star has spent his Saturdays co-presenting The Big Ass Happy Family Jubilee show with his singer-songwriter cousin Roger Alan Wade on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country Channel.
Not only that, but Knoxville has also taken on several voiceover gigs over the past few years. Past projects of his include SpongeBob SquarePants and the big-screen reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also owns two production companies: Dickhouse Productions, which has been responsible for several acclaimed documentaries, and Hello Junior.
1. His recent output hasn’t been released yet
However, Knoxville hasn’t given up on appearing in front of the cameras yet; it’s just that his most recent output has yet to be released. Indeed, he has two films both currently in post-production. One is Weightless, in which he stars alongside esteemed actress Julianne Nicholson; the other is Above Suspicion, a true crime drama about an FBI agent sent to a rural Appalachian community.
And Knoxville has actually enjoyed major box-office success in 2016, albeit in an entirely different country. Specifically, the Hong Kong-Chinese-American buddy comedy Skiptrace, which also stars Jackie Chan, only hit select theaters in the States. It has, however, already reached the number one spot in China.