In proper Jackass fashion, Jackass Forever kicks off with a grand opening scene that pays homage to the mayhem of Godzilla. Among this pandemonium is a nod to the Poo Cocktail Supreme, the final stunt in Jackass 3D in which Steve-O is strapped into a used porta potty that is launched into the air.
This time around, Steve-O, born Stephen Glover, tumbles across the screen from inside the porta potty. It’s a quick moment, but one that stands out for the seasoned stuntman.
“It’s crazy that, for me, arguably, the most dangerous stunt was this innocuous cinematic opening sequence,” he reveals to LA Confidential during a phone call ahead of the movie’s Feb. 4 premiere.
The porta potty was attached to a machine that turned it over and over, and at one point during filming, Glover landed on his head. Because landing on your head means risking spinal cord injury, he explains, he felt hesitant to do the stunt again.
“I didn't know where I was as that thing rotated. And of course, the evil director Jeff Tremaine wants to do it again,” he recalls. But then the camera overheated. And then they discovered something was faulty with the machine itself, so the stunt was put on hold.
“I was like, man, the universe stepped in and prevented me from doing that again in a way that I was not capable of doing for myself,” Glover says.
Acting out of caution for his head and spinal cord has been a priority for the Jackass star for “at least” the last two movies. And while Glover explains that nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do, the allure of filming a great scene is ever-powerful.
“It lights a fire under our asses to try to get our own awesome bit in the can. So it becomes a competitive battle for screen time, which is hilarious, unhealthy and very productive at the same time,” he says.
"Jackass is really just an exercise in attention," Glover says.
Jackass Forever comes more than 20 years after the original series hit MTV for three seasons and about 11 years following the last film. In that time, Glover has remained committed to his sobriety, gotten engaged, been arrested for a SeaWorld protest stunt and expanded his endeavors as an entertainer with his YouTube channel, Wild Ride podcast and an online merch store. He’s also honed in on his talents as a standup comedian and is currently making his way around the country with The Bucket List tour.
“Since this is LA Confidential, can I let you be the very first media person to know that I just booked a show in L.A. at The Novo theater in all of its glory with its 1,500 seats,” Glover says during our phone call. “I still am just so thrilled with how good of a show it is and so eager to let the whole industry know how f****** awesome it is and to really make it as big of a deal as possible that I'm performing this show in L.A. And that's happening on March 10. It also happens to be my sobriety day.”
March 10 will mark fourteen years of sobriety for Glover. And while he may be more intentional about the danger he puts himself in, he’s committed as ever to get the laugh in Jackass Forever. Even with fresh, young talent joining the crew for the first time ever, who other than Steve-O would be game for attracting a swarm of bees onto his genitals?
But of all the wonderful outrageousness in the new movie, Glover is most proud of their success in igniting an underwater fart on fire. The result is not a burst of flames, but pipe bomb-type mastery.
“I just can't imagine anybody ever replicating it. I think that there's some kind of scientific significance to it. I think there's something really just rare and amazing about it, but I recognize it's a smaller scale bit in the grand scheme of the movie,” he says.
Steve-O was not the only one to attempt the underwater fart bit.
The balanced amalgamation of such “low-level” bits and core-shocking stunts contributes to Jackass’ evolution from controversial MTV romp to beloved pop culture phenomenon. The reputational growth is perhaps best exemplified by Jackass Forever's current Rotten Tomatoes critics' score of 89 percent compared to Jackass 3D’s 66 percent.
But the concept of the franchise has never changed. It’s always been about a group of friends doing gnarly things. As Glover explains, the overall positive spirit of Jackass shines through because “there's really nothing whatsoever hateful about what we do.”
“I think that there's something timeless about slapstick comedy. There's something compelling about the misfortune of others. There's something endearing about guys being willing to look uncool. I think that there's something really magnetic about the chemistry between us,” he says. “I like to think that Jackass is actually a pretty wholesome thing.”
One could imagine how easy it is to be paranoid on set. Take, for example, in Jackass Forever when guest star Eric André is whacked with an inflatable punch while ordering coffee or the franchise’s long-held tradition of surprise hair clipper attacks. But as Glover explains it, there’s really no cause for worry while on set. For one, a prank gone well could mean more screen time. More importantly, he was just too happy to be there.
“I think I could speak for all the guys that we never imagined that this fourth movie would ever happen. We were sure that this ship had sailed, at least I was, and to be able to do it one more time, I kind of just relished every little moment of every little day,” he says. “I was never stressed out about looking over my shoulder.”
When headed into filming the movie’s final stunt, he had no apprehensions even though he knew “terrible s***” was about to go down. The shoot had an afternoon call time, which Glover says means that the production crew spends the morning “setting up some awful thing.”
According to Glover, the Vomitron was the second most expensive shoot of the movie (right behind the opening scene). In it, he and a few other cast members are strapped into a chair that sits on a platform akin to a playground spinner.
As the name suggests, the goal is to induce vomit, but Steve-O and company are in for more than just nausea-riddled dizziness. Part-way through, chaos ensues by way of military action and paintball attacks, which Glover says was unsettling.
“At the same time, it's exciting because you're in the middle of something special and fantastic,” he says. “And in that case, I ended up actually sustaining an injury to my genitals and that was unpleasant, but it was also pretty awesome too.”
Jackass Forever is now playing in theaters.
Photography by: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios