It’s no secret that he wound up in the movie. (He’s since said that he handled the negotiations “poorly,” and when we speak he’s already ginning up ways to turn his so-called “feud” with Knoxville into YouTube content.) And, anyway, whatever worries he had about the whole project disappeared nearly the second he showed up on set and had a heavy object tied to his penis. “Despite all of that, the second we show up on the fucking set, dude, all of that evaporates,” he says. “I absolutely, authentically, genuinely mean it, that the second we all congregate on the set, all that shit goes away. It’s the farthest from our consciousness and all that chemistry just pours in, to the point where I got goosebumps.”
And Jackass Forever is a vintage Jackass movie. “Everything was so dick-heavy for the whole fucking movie. It’s all nut shots, dude,” he says. “There’s just a lot of hitting people in the balls, but even my dad conceded that the creative context of the nut shots warranted them all.” One stunt, involving a colony of bees and Steve-O’s penis, might be the most purely revolting thing Jackass has ever produced, which is saying something. (“It’s fucking dope, man. It’s a great bit.”)
Strange as it sounds, the thing Steve-O is proudest of doesn’t have anything to do with taking heavy damage. No, what he’s proudest of is the way that, secure in his sobriety and his career, he finally feels comfortable on camera. “Of course you’ve got to have the stunts. Of course you’ve got to have the big holy shit moments,” he says. “But those are secondary to how I came out of my shell. The fact of just me being comfortable and confidently saying things that really work on camera, I’m beside myself. I’m so grateful for it.”
But he’d also be grateful if Jackass Forever sold a boatload of tickets, and helped drive traffic to his YouTube channel, and boosted sales for his standup tour. And if Steve-O’s learned anything, it’s this: don’t think you’re too good for TMZ. So, sitting on the couch, he taps away at his phone for a few minutes, cooking up his response to the TMZ producer. When he’s done, he reads it aloud:
Aw, man. Thanks so much. The cop definitely got a copy of my driver’s license, but let me go with the warning that I’ll have a federal warrant issued for my arrest if he sees footage of me climbing on the statue. Given the stories I’ve seen about the January 6th insurrection, I truly don’t consider what I did to be a very bad thing. And I invite them to punish me to the full extent of the law for doing it. Candidly, I hope they do issue a federal warrant, because I would enjoy the publicity and I’m sure it would help our movie, in theaters on February 4. Thanks again.
He looks up at me, smiling, and says, “That’s a banger, right? Perfect.”