A walk through Knoxville

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“Let the beatings begin!” Johnny Knoxville, star of the infamous MTV show “Jackass” declared at the beginning of the interview.Knoxville is currently co-staring in the film “Walking Tall” as the sad-sack sidekick, while The Rock takes the lead as the 4×4-wielding hero. Although he is taking smaller roles now, Hollywood will have to watch its back-this is one man with a lot of things on his plate, and this is only the beginning.

“I thought it would be good to get an action film under my belt,” Knoxville said. “I think people will see that I can handle it, and the acting side of it as well. I’ve been kind of taking smaller roles up until this point. After this, I’m going to step up front and do my own films.””Walking Tall” is the story of a soldier who comes home after completing his service, only to find his once idyllic town overrun by the corrupt influence of a casino. Fighting ensues.”I don’t think there’s a message to take away,” Knoxville said about the movie. “I think it’s just a popcorn film you go see. People have asked me about the message, and one guy was telling me the movie was going to help Bush get re-elected. It’s just a big action popcorn movie.”In recent years, the similarly entertaining TV show “Jackass,” featuring the outlandish antics of Knoxville and company, caused much controversy as teenagers tried imitating the stunts they’d seen, for example being a human barbecue. “It’s nothing compared to the stuff I used to do,” Knoxville said about working in “Walking Tall” as opposed to “Jackass.” “They had a stunt guy there everyday, and before each stunt they would walk me through, and show me how to do it because, up until this point, I was just supposed to fail when I did stunts. When you’re doing these, you kind of have to succeed. I’m very clumsy. They were very cool about showing me, and not making me feel like a total dipshit.”While “Jackass” might have been the catalyst in Knoxville’s breakthrough, he might have ended up in a similar situation through a different means. While “Jackass” was in the works, “Saturday Night Live” approached him with an offer to be a part of their show. An offer, according to Knoxville, that came too late.”It was offered to me at the 11th hour, and I would have had to say yes to “Saturday Night Live” and no to all my friends and “Jackass,” so obviously, I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “If I’d went on “Saturday Night Live,” it’s hard to tell. Maybe [my career] would have taken off, but it wouldn’t have been the same.”Aside from “Walking Tall,” Knoxville has several irons in the fire, working both the acting side of things, including a new Farrelly brothers film, as well as the producing side.”I’m producing a film at Paramount right now,” he said. “It’s an idea I came up with. I’m not writing the script, but I’m coming up with a lot of bits. It’s a turf war between two hot dog vendors-it’s an excuse for two guys to go at each other’s throats for an hour and a half.”Aside from the Farrelly brothers’ film, “The Ringer,” which is about two men who rig the Special Olympics to pay off a debt, and “Grand Theft Parsons,” the true story of deceased country musician Gram Parsons and his trek to cremation, Knoxville will be staring in an upcoming John Waters film, “A Dirty Shame.””It’s about a town full of sexual deviants that battle for control of the town, and I’m the head sexual deviant,” he said. “No pun intended, as I say with every pun intended. My character gets introduced by getting a hummer in front of a tow truck.”According to Knoxville, acting is something that he always wanted to do, as he wasn’t a big fan of “manual labor.” Still, with all that he has going, he feels as though he has not been fully swallowed up by Hollywood.”I don’t really feel a part of Hollywood-you know, one of the boys,” he said. “I kind of keep outside of Hollywood, but I know I’m a part of it now.”