It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years since Johnny Knoxville invaded television screens and uttered the now iconic line, "Hi I'm Johnny Knoxville, welcome to Jackass!" The appropriately titled Jackass would go on to have a successful television run that eventually led to three financially successful movies, and propelled the careers of all the members, but none more than Knoxville, who went on to Hollywood superstardom.
Although he was never critically cherished, Knoxville would go on to forge an impressive career, having the opportunity to co-star in films alongside movie stars like Will Smith and The Rock, and even get the chance to headline a few movies of his own. Knoxville would never be able to match the success he had with Jackass, but he did go on one hell of a ride for a guy who was best known for getting run over by a bull, willingly, on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately for Knoxville, he could never truly get past the stuntman gimmick and be taken seriously as an actor, and his ride slowly came to an end. Even though he seemed to keep active with bit parts here and there, over time, he seemingly disappeared from the industry altogether. But, everyone loves a good comeback story, and depending on how 2018 goes, Knoxville could very well be on one of his own, and may even break through the proverbial ceiling that he seemed to hit a few years ago. So, if anyone has ever wondered what happened to Knoxville or were curious if he was gone for good, look no further than this list and the 10 Reasons Why Johnny Knoxville Disappeared (And 5 Reasons Why He's Making A Comeback)
15 He's A Family Man
Johnny Knoxville may not have any issue with constantly getting hurt and putting himself in dangerous, life-threatening situations, but that becomes an issue when he has a family to look after. Knoxville is happily married with three kids, two of which are under 10 years old, and very impressionable. Knoxville may not mind constantly visiting the hospital, but I'm sure his kids and his wife don't like seeing him always injured.
Knoxville is far from a neglectful father, as he adores his kids and loves spending time with them. He doesn't shy away from announcing the birth of a child and how proud he is, and it's not uncommon for him to be spotted with his family at premieres or at the farmers market. And there are probably countless other times he wasn't even spotted in public, as his celebrity status is not that high to begin with, which has allowed him to go unnoticed and unbothered in public for many years.
14 He's Considered To Be A One-Trick Pony
For better or worse, Knoxville is most known for his work on Jackass, which brought him fame and fortune but also labeled him a stuntman over an actor. A quick glance at his filmography shows that he's been in movies and TV shows before and after Jackass but they were either poorly received or never quite reached the success of that property. All three Jackass films, along with Bad Grandpa, remain to this day as Knoxville's biggest draws at the box office, and best reviewed critically, which is very surprising.
All of this makes it appear, at least to a studio, that Knoxville is only successful when he's putting his life on the line in a stunt or humiliating himself in a prank.
As much as it seems that Knoxville would be more than happy to do that until he dies, it doesn't appear that a studio would be willing to continuously finance that, and even hardcore fans would lose interest after a while if it became over-saturated.
13 He's Been Busy With Side Projects
Knoxville was never completely gone from the industry but merely switched hats from actor to producer. Along with directors Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze, Knoxville co-founded and helps operate Dickhouse Productions, which is behind shows like Dudesons In America and Nitro Circus, as well as the documentary Being Evel. He later went on to found and operate another production company, Hello Junior, which ended up signing a two-year project deal with Paramount Pictures.
Producing isn't the only thing keeping him busy, though, as he also co-hosts a show on the Sirius XM Outlaw Country Channel with cousin and singer/songwriter Roger Alan Wade. In other words, he's had his hands full with various projects off-screen. But, that isn't to say he's only been active behind the scenes, as he did make appearances in front of the camera, but in much smaller roles than the ones he's used to, which may be why he slipped past viewers in shows like Maron and Drunk History.
12 He's Been Injured...A Lot
Considering Knoxville's claim to fame came from intentionally hurting himself for two seasons of Jackass followed by three movies, it should come as no surprise that he's amassed quite a few injuries over the span of his career. In fact, he's probably suffered every injury imaginable, twice, in his time as a stuntman.
The human body can only take so much, and even though Knoxville comes off as immortal, he's not indestructible.
He's suffered countless broken bones and a torn urethra, he's been knocked unconscious and concussed, and he was inches away from death when a rocket malfunctioned and nearly shot a piece of metal through his abdomen. All of that is to say he needs time to recover, so it's understandable that his public appearances diminished after the release of every Jackass movie.
11 He Was Constantly Type Cast
Even though Jackass was presented like a TV show, it should go without saying that all the cast members were stuntmen, first and foremost, and not actors. But, after the success of the show, with Knoxville being the de facto leader, he ended up being the one to ride that wave into a career in Hollywood as a legitimate actor. The only problem was that basically, every single role he landed was the same, in that he played the sidekick and/or comic relief.
That's not to say that Knoxville was bad in these roles, as there is no denying his charisma, the fact that he's comfortable in front of the camera, and that he has arguably a more contagious laugh than Seth Rogen.
The issue lied in the fact that these movies were not well received critically and never dominated the box office. Because of this, the offers started to disappear, and since Knoxville showed little to no range aside from those characters, any offers for other genres or roles were non-existent.
10 Ryan Dunn
Knoxville is not alone on this one, as every single Jackass cast and crew member felt the sting of losing Ryan Dunn in 2011 to a driving accident. They were all one big family, so they felt like they lost a brother as much as a friend. Dunn was a part of the group from the beginning, all the way back to the days of the TV show. His death also came after the release of the third, and what would prove to be final, Jackass movie, seemingly putting to end to the franchise and a significant part of Knoxville's career.
Knoxville stated in a blog post he wrote after Dunn's death that his life got "134 percent less funny," which would make it difficult to go out in public let alone make movies. He would go on a few years later to make Bad Grandpa, which was somewhat of a spinoff to Jackass, and even though it was a financial success, it definitely felt like something was missing.
9 He Got Too Famous
Jackass is known for its pranks on unsuspecting civilians as much as it's known for the incredibly stupid, but hilarious stunts the group performs. However, the key word there is unsuspecting, which means it became increasingly hard to film these pranks once the group became household names, especially for Knoxville, who became a star. It didn't even help when they resorted to putting Knoxville in old man makeup as people would still end up recognizing him!
A big reason why the movies were filmed in other countries was that they weren't as popular or well-known there, which allowed them to film pranks and stunts freely and get the unfiltered, legitimate reactions they desired. And even though it's been almost 10 years since the last Jackass movie, they would more than likely have to go the international route again to film a fourth one, which depends on whether or not they would get a budget big enough that would allow it.
8 His Projects Kept Stalling
The success of Bad Grandpa seemed to make the right amount of noise to get everyone's attention again, especially that of the studios. Not long after it's release, Knoxville signed a development deal with Paramount, he was set to make a TV show with ABC based on his life growing up in Tennessee, he was adapting a comic series and had signed on for roles in various movies. But then, as time went on, all of these deals seemed to either fall through or disappear entirely.
Obviously, some projects can take a long time before they are finalized or get made, even after they are announced. However, there are usually updates or at least mention of these projects moving forward. That's not the case for Knoxville, as his IMDB page, or any other site for that matter, fails to mention anything of the sort. They seem to either be far away from ever happening or dead in the water. But either way, Knoxville has been on the brink of getting back in the public eye for a while now, nothing just seemed to work out.
7 He Was Never Considered To Be A Quality Actor
Knoxville didn't stumble onto acting after the success of Jackass, it was always his intention of being a legitimate actor and he even attended acting school for a few weeks before dropping out.
He appeared in commercials and small roles here and there for a period of time before money issues and a family to support shifted him in another direction.
So, when opportunities to appear in movies started to present themselves, Knoxville was ready. Unfortunately, acting didn't work out for him in the beginning for a reason. Sure, he has the confidence and looks comfortable in front of a camera, but that doesn't translate to a good performance. Knoxville was never lambasted for his performances, mainly because he was funny in the limited roles he appeared in, but any transition to starring roles or more serious projects did not fare well for him. Without being able to diversify, Knoxville hit a ceiling and slowly faded away as fewer and fewer roles became available.
6 He Is Financially Stable
All the years humiliating and injuring himself paid off as Knoxville currently has a net worth of $75 million! He still receives royalty checks too for Jackass, so it's fair to say that as long as he is responsible with his money (and there's been no indication that he is not), Knoxville and his kids are set for life. That knowledge of future stability kind of takes the incentive away to work.
Knoxville has made it clear that he still enjoys doing stunts that earn him trips to the ER, so there's a good chance he would probably do it for free. But, he did get into this industry because he needed to support his family, so money is definitely a deciding factor, to some degree. Add to that the fact that he's not being offered the same amount of money that he was when he first broke onto the scene, and it's clear that Knoxville is fine spending his residual checks for as long as he can.
5 He Is Currently Making The Rounds
Knoxville will be making his return to the big screen for the first time since Bad Grandpa came out in 2013 (not including his voiceover work in 2014 for TMNT) when Action Point hits theatres this summer. This has been the longest gap between releases for Knoxville since he started his film career, making the return that much more special.
And when it comes to how fans will react to him, hopefully, for his case, absence made the heart grow fonder. Luckily, that appeared to be the case last summer when Knoxville was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote Action Point.
As the release date gets closer, he'll be making more appearances, and drumming up more interest as he goes along. Then factor in that Knoxville has two more movies coming out before years end, one of which is Above Suspicion starring Emilia Clarke, and it's clear that his return to the spotlight is just getting started.
4 Action Point Is A Return To Form
Action Point is being described as Jackass with a narrative and plot, and if the trailers are any indication, it will not disappoint. It's been almost 10 years since the last Jackass movie came out, and even though Bad Grandpa was somewhat of a spin-off, it was far from the real deal. Action Point will also see a mini Jackass reunion of sorts as party boy Chris Pontius will join Knoxville on screen. If people can't get a fourth Jackass movie, this will have to do to scratch that itch, and it may be a huge success if that proves to be the case.
According to Knoxville, the film was shot like a Jackass movie, with wide shots and real stunts performed entirely by Knoxville and other stuntmen and doing away with movie magic.
The biggest question is whether or not the movie will be a success financially, because that could factor into whether or not Knoxville can prolong this return and possibly get a second chance at some lost opportunities.
3 Lost Projects May Come Back
Remember all of those projects that were mentioned earlier that seemed to be lost and forgotten? Well, nothing is ever gone for good in Hollywood if the right amount of noise is made. This could be the case for Knoxville, depending on the success of Action Point and the other two films that are set to be released this year. If he can show that he still has a fan base that wants to see him and he can bring in enough money with a positive reception, he could have a chance to get older projects back on track.
Paramount could easily be interested in extending their partnership with Hello Junior and get serious about financing more projects from Knoxville. ABC could try harder to get the failed pilot about Knoxville's childhood years off the ground and running. This could all even lead to movie offers again, or even TV shows. This is an important year for Knoxville and could determine how successful his future will be.
2 The Time Is Now For A Reunion
Considering Action Point is being advertised as Jackass minus the name, there is no better time than now to parlay that momentum into a fourth and final Jackass movie. The group has been teasing a fourth movie for years, constantly putting it out to the public only to shut it down and claim it's all rumors. But the interest is certainly there with the fans, who would be ecstatic, and even the studios, who would do it if they knew it would bring in money.
The Jackass boys could easily come in and show them all how it's truly done. Bam Margera even has the perfect title for it, Jackass 4: We're Not Dunn Yet, making it a fitting tribute to their lost comrade, and a perfect ending for the franchise.
It's the right time, especially with all of these copycat and wannabe pranksters appearing on YouTube and social media.
1 New Possibilities Could Present Themselves
An interesting film to watch out for this year is Above Suspicion as it features Knoxville in unfamiliar territory. Sure, he's tried his hand at more serious roles, like in Grand Theft Parsons, but in this one, he doesn't have to carry the load and it features more established actors and an established director. If he is able to impress audiences and critics alike with his performance, this could lead to more roles of this nature and give Knoxville some acting credibility, like he always desired.
On top of that, Knoxville co-wrote the script for Action Point, which is the first narrative film he's ever written. He's admitted that the process was tough, but he would definitely be open to writing more movies.
If that's the case, he could take this new found ability and use it to pitch stories to studios and either act in them or stay on the sidelines, which opens up all new possibilities for the 47-year-old daredevil.
References: vice.com, looper.com, imdb.com, rollingstone.com, biography.com, variety.com, hollywoodreporter.com, deadline.com, boxofficemojo.com, rottentomatoes.com, dickhouse.tv, youtube.com, siriusxm.com, dailymail.co.uk, eonline.com