I’ve been interviewing Johnny Knoxville for what seems like a decade now, and living in LA, I find that I run into him on a fairly regular basis just out and about. Perhaps because of the hyper-casual nature of “Jackass,” he never seemed like a celebrity, but more like a friend who just happens to have a TV show. That’s part of the appeal of that program, and Knoxville is one of the easiest guys to talk to about his work that I’ve ever met.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is someone I’ve watched my whole life but who I never had reason to meet until last week. Then, in one quick burst of three days, I rode a tank that he was driving, saw his new film “The Last Stand,” and then sat down to interview him for the first time. I could have happily spent a half hour talking to him by himself, but of course, that’s not how these press days are set up.
Instead, you walk in, you get your four or five minutes, and then you’re done. And in this case, I had two people in one room. Thankfully, the pairing of Knoxville and Schwarzenegger is just weird enough to be really entertaining, and the film they both star in surprised me enormously.
As a result, we had a fun, loose conversation, and I think the photo my editor sent over as a screen cap to use on this article pretty much sums it up. Knoxville is a guy who takes great delight in the life he’s leading, and he seemed more than aware of how bizarre it is that he’s in an action film with one of the biggest icons of action cinema. He demonstrated a real sense of self-awareness in our chat.
And then there’s Arnold, who is exactly what I hoped he’d be. He’s not trying to fool anyone about his age, and he’s also aware that he’s been away from film for a while. It seems strange to describe Arnold as “modest,” but the conversation we had seemed to me like he knows that there’s no guarantee that the audience is still waiting for him. I also like how enthusiastic he is about Kim Jee-Woon, the Korean filmmaker who helmed “The Last Stand.”
I’ll have a few more interviews from this one, and “The Last Stand” opens in theaters everywhere on January 18th.