'Jackass': Johnny Knoxville's mother on her danger-seeking son with a 'heart of gold'

Johnny-Knoxville-momImage Credit: Tommaso Boddi/PR PhotosWhen you watch Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville get the stuffing knocked out of him by a professional boxer or take a sledgehammer to the groin, do you ever wonder: What must he have been like as a child? And what does his poor mother think about his daredevil-may-care ways? On the eve of the release of Jackass 3D, we went directly to the source for illumination. Lemoyne Clapp was kind enough to describe the experience of raising little Johnny (ne PJ Clapp), and how difficult it is to watch her son sacrifice his body for the sake of entertainment.

“I had raised two daughters, and PJ came 11 years later. He was completely different, but I thought it was because he was a boy and all boys acted like that. At 9 months old, he could climb up on his playpen and throw himself out on the floor. Luckily, we had carpet back then. But he never cried, even when he would get hurt.

When he was 2, he tried to put the cat in the washing machine. I happened to catch him doing it, and he said, ‘He’s duwty.’ He couldn’t pronounce his r’s…. When he was 14, playing baseball on a travel team, his teammates told me he was diving out the second-story window into the pool. That should’ve been a warning, shouldn’t it? But he’s got a heart of gold. He’s a sweetheart. I never heard him say a bad word till I saw it on TV. He never, ever sassed. I’d tell him when to come home, and it was ‘Yes, ma’am.’ He came home when he pleased sometimes, but it was always ‘Yes, ma’am.’

I didn’t have any idea what Jackass was. The name should’ve given it away. I’m sure that was the last thing he wanted to tell me — I live in the Bible Belt. I called three of my friends and told them, ‘Be sure to watch my son’s show!’ The first one was the worst one he ever did. I didn’t go out of the house for a week, and my friends didn’t call me back. A month later, they called wanting autographs for their grandchildren, and I said, ‘You made me feel so bad, I don’t think I’m going to get them for you.’ [Laughs]

Jackass was very painful to watch. If I thought he was going to get hurt, I just covered my eyes. But I couldn’t help but watch it. It was really funny. I worry about all of the boys, and when they’re through filming, it’s like somebody’s lifted a burden off me. He tells me not to worry — ‘Oh, Mom, the dangerous things are over’ — and I think, ‘Oh, he’s okay now.’ And then I find out he’s still filming. I truly hope [Jackass 3D] is the last one. It’s a good one to go out on. I watched with PJ and he said, ‘Mom, cover your eyes.’ But I didn’t get to close them before the buffalo threw him up in the air with his horns. I guess it’s a buffalo — it has horns. I reached over and hit his leg three times for doing it.

Does he pull pranks on me? I’ll read you the birthday card I got yesterday with flowers. I have back problems, and any time he sends flowers, I ask the girl if she’d mind carrying the flowers in the house for me. I was looking at the flowers, thinking how pretty they were, and I noticed she was giving me a strange look. Here’s the card: ‘Dear Mom, Ever since you got out of prison, you have been a different person. I hope the judge takes that into consideration at your next trial. We love you very much.’ I get these a lot, and it always has something to do with my prison record or drug rehab. The reality is, I don’t drink and I’ve had one speeding ticket — and they dismissed it! But as far as pranks, it’s just the cards and things. I laugh. I just know that’s him. And I wouldn’t change a hair on his head.”

Read more:
Jackass 3D preview
The terrible ideas we get from movies

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Creighton

    Knoxville is tremendously entertaining.

  • Jenn

    Regardless of his antics, any boy who obviously loves his mother this much and is respectful to her even as an adult gets my approval. I actually never cared for him until I saw “The Ringer.” Now that I know he loves his mom, well, he’s okay in my book. (Speaking as the mother of two sons!)

  • Shannon S

    My opinion of Knoxville just went up…that really put a smile on my face.

  • jaq

    AWWWWWWWWWW thats so sweet!

  • Grubi

    She’s kind of adorable…

  • b

    That is a sweet mother son relationship its good to see him love and respect his mom so much,who woulda thought johnny knoxville.It makes me like him more.

  • So Cute I Could Throw Up

    “And I wouldn’t change a hair on his head.”

    I love that she watches the show, she seems so sweet!

  • Livalittle

    You know what, EW? I’m proud of you. That was a very sweet, simple, put a smile on your face article you posted there.

  • ellen

    This was so sweet. I always liked Knoxville though.

  • LC

    That was a really sweet article. I love the way he pranks his mom…the flowers and card is thoughtful and not over the top disrespectful like Bam’s pranks on his parents.

  • madtube

    Yes, Knoxville just went up in my eyes. But I have to ask, the resemblance between him and his mother is scary. Still, a proper gentlemen, to a degree.

  • topazbean

    Yeah, they look insanely alike.

  • SuperTrooper

    Precious. I totally would have guessed he was like this too. He seems crazy but genuinely caring and sweet.

  • Jessica

    I’ve always liked Johnny Knoxville. He’s never come off as an arrogent prick to me or someone who treats people like garbage. He enjoys making people laugh, and in my opinion that’s an amazing quality to have. Now that I’ve read this about him and his mother, that makes me respect him even more! I love him and I love the fact that he adores and loves to joke around with his mom but also respects her.

  • Ne Oublie

    Love this.

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