When Johnny Knoxville was growing up in South Knoxville, he was obsessed with daredevil Evel Knievel.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Knoxville – aka Phillip John Clapp – says, “When I was a kid, I had this awesome Evel Knievel crank-up motorcycle doll that would rev up and fly across the wooden floors in my house. It was the best. I didn’t really understand who or what he was in real life, but he was this super-sized personality—almost this indestructible human doll because of the things he did.”
Evel Knievel’s influence obviously carried on to Knoxville’s adulthood, as he went on to do daredevil stunts of his own when he launched the TV and movie series “Jackass.” Comparing himself to Knievel, Knoxville says, “. “I think we’re hovering right somewhere in between bravery and stupidity … Possibly more on the stupidity side.”
Knoxville is currently promoting the documentary “Being Evel,” which he produced and which is debuting Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival.
“He was a superhero, a real living superhero,” Knoxville says of his idol. “That doll is probably my favorite toy of all time. I think a lot of guys who grew up in the time we did feel the same exact way about it. I bought a couple — one for my son when he got old enough and another for me last year. I got the vintage one, still in the original box. My kid loves it, and I love it as much as I did when I was little.”
Sundance.org will live stream many events from this year’s festival, including a “Cinema Café” panel discussion featuring Knoxville at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26.
Knoxville recently wrapped a role opposite Jackie Chan for the film "Tiptrace," and he's also playing one of the members of Elvis Presley's "Memphis Mafia" for the film "Elvis & Nixon."