Q & A with ''A Dirty Shame'''s Johnny Knoxville -- The ex-''Jackass'' star talks about meeting John Waters, why he wants to play Luke Duke, and the injuries he still has from his stunt show days 

By Steve Daly
Updated September 24, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

He’s had a porta potti dumped on his head and been barbecued on MTV’s Jackass. Now Johnny Knoxville is reworking his bad-boy act with some kindred-spirit filmmakers: In John Waters’ A Dirty Shame (Sept. 24), he’s a snake-tongued sexual healer, and in The Ringer, exec-produced by the Farrelly brothers (Nov. 12), he fakes being mentally challenged to fix bets on the Special Olympics. Yep, we’re firmly in Parental Advisory territory.

What was it like meeting with John Waters for Dirty Shame?

He hadn’t written a script. He just pulled out all these fetish magazines. Like American Grizzly, which is men 250 pounds and over, super hairy, modeling like they’re in Playboy. I knew about some of these fetishes, but I didn’t know they all had magazines.

And The Ringer — is it offensive to Special Olympians?

The Special Olympics people have endorsed it. They’ve seen it, and they’re completely behind it. It sounds mean-spirited on the surface, but it’s not. All the mean stuff happens to me, and we cast real mentally challenged actors in the roles. It’s actually a sweet film.

You’ve just signed on to play Luke in a Dukes of Hazzard remake. Why?

I think we could be insane with the car-chase stunts.

Speaking of which, do you still have war wounds from Jackass stunts?

My ankles are really bad. I’ll be walking down the street and they’ll just give out — BOOM — like at a 90-degree angle. But I’ve got a friend who’s a BMX rider, Mat Hoffman. He’s had 14 surgeries and was DOA twice and had over a hundred concussions. Compared to him, I’m doing pretty good.

What about the less physical dangers of success?

Everyone’s telling you you’re great. So you start thinking, Wow, I must really be important. You’re not f—ing important, you’re just an actor. You’re gonna be replaced in about five, six years. People start thinking ”Oh, Hollywood can’t work without me — I’m a star!” They’ll do just fine without you. Your tickets are for Podunk tomorrow on the 9:30 a.m.