Jackass 3D grossed $50 million during its opening weekend, setting the record for the highest grossing film released in the month of October in cinematic history — really freaking crazy for a crew of skaters that began with a hand-held camera, filming one another getting kicked in the crotch, jumping into ceiling fans, snorting wasabi and engaging in other wonderfully disgusting antics. So does this make Ojai resident, and one of the film’s most memorable characters, Dave England, the most sought-after movie star on the planet? Not necessarily. In fact, England might be more psyched about the new skate park opening in Ojai than the Jackass franchise’s Hollywood takeover. England, who was raised all around Ventura County, moved to Colorado after high school to embark on a professional snowboarding career. Over time, he became the editor of Blunt magazine, which brought him together with the eventual Jackass gang. Before heading out to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Jackass conception, England chatted with the VCReporter about masochism and the art of shitting.
VCReporter: When did you discover you were a masochist?
Dave England: The thing that makes it so people want to watch us, is that we’re not masochists. If we were, it wouldn’t be that much fun to watch us because we’d be enjoying too much. Part of what makes it fun to watch is that we don’t enjoy it and we’re crying about it.
What’s worse? Knowing what’s coming? Or the unexpected?
When you know what’s coming several days before, you lose sleep — and that is no fun. No one wants to sit and think about it the whole time. But sometimes it’s kind of nice when it’s last-second and it comes out of nowhere. But with that, you can’t stop looking over your shoulder and you get paranoid, and that carries over into your personal life. I find it pretty hard to relax after filming Jackass for a while.
When did you first get involved with the Jackass crew? And how?
I’ve been involved since day one. Since we did the pilot. Before that, I was working as an editor at Blunt snowboard magazine, the sister magazine to Big Brother magazine. And Jeff Tremaine was the art director of Big Brother. So he had the idea to take these videos we were making of silly skits in between takes for skateboarding videos. So his idea was to get rid of all the skateboarding and just do the silly stuff and try to pitch it to some networks. We were friends with Spike Jonze because he was really involved with skateboarding, so he got our foot in the door and got MTV to buy it. I thought it would be on one time in the middle of the night. But it caught on. And after that, we couldn’t really do what we wanted on TV because we were getting in too much trouble. So every four years since, we’ve made a movie. And it also marks the 10-year, today actually, anniversary of us making Jackass.
In between the four years of making movies, what does the Jackass crew do? I see Johnny Knoxville in some movies here and there.
Yeah, those are really good, huh? (Laughs.) I’ve done a couple of failed films as well. Everyone has done little things here and there. But I think for everyone Jackass seems to be our forte. We’ve had some minor success in other departments, but usually when we come back and do Jackass stuff we do really good.
So in the meanwhile you’re a family man?
Yeah, I’ve got two kids [ages 6 and 9]. I also make videos. In the last four years I’ve made a lot of viral videos. I made one that got best sports video on YouTube in 2007. It was a video where I filled this skate bowl with balloons and skated in it. Just silly stuff like that.
Do you ever bring your kids to set and to see what’s going?
Sometimes I bring them to set and they have a good time. Other times, I have to walk them to a different area and hide them from Chris’ penis [Chris Pontius, who has several nude scenes in the film]. Or I bring them to the editing room. The editor is a friend of mine, so he’ll make some kid-friendly cuts they can watch.
Do you have to have a special sit-down with them to explain that what daddy does isn’t for everybody?
No; when they see me limping around and all black and blue (laughs), they get the idea. They don’t want to get hurt. I think it makes them more timid if anything. They see the consequences if you act like an idiot. It doesn’t encourage them. That’s for sure.
When did you discover you had a great knack for shitting?
When I was a kid everyone would pick on me. Then one day I took a shit in a glass jar and threw it at a log. It exploded and the shit stuck to the log. So after that I had a bunch of friends. I thought, “I’ve got to keep doing this.” And that’s what I’ve done ever since. Please the crowd.
Definitely. And you’ve made a pretty good living doing that.
Yeah, in each of the three movies, I’ve taken at least one shit in each one. I’m happy to do the poocano. That worked out. That was one take. They weren’t going to build another set for me.
Do you have a special diet for that?
Everything I could get my hands on. Just crammed everything I could find in my mouth, and the classic stuff like corn and peanuts (laughs).
Any talks for four years down the line?
At this point, all of us agree that nothing is outside the realm of possibilities. Before this, after we filmed parts one and two, we said, “That’s it.” We didn’t want to do one, and plus we thought no one would want to see another one.
But at this point it just seems like we’ll keep making them.