By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Before there was Johnny Knoxville and his crew of daredevil “Jackass” friends there was motorcyclist Evel Knievel, who rode his bike over a row of 13 double-decker buses in England, leapt over the Caesar’s Palace fountain in Las Vegas and even tried to fly over the Snake River in Idaho in a modified rocket-powered Skycycle, among other stunts.
The difference, of course, is that Knoxville & Co.’s stunts always have been designed to fail, whereas the enigmatic Montana-born Knievel, decked out in his patriotic red, white and blue leather jumpsuit, always strove for success.
In the documentary “Being Evel,” rolling out in theaters across the country and available On Demand, the incredible life of Robert “Evel” Knievel unfolds, from his reckless boyhood in Butte (where he got his nickname from the local police), to his death-defying stunts, which didn’t always go off without a hitch, to his struggle with diabetes and lung disease in his later years.
Knoxville, Knievel’s family and a host of action sports superstars and commentators (including the late Frank Gifford) who knew or admired him, offer insight into the man who spent his life trying to outdo himself while entertaining audiences, and in the process broke nearly every bone in his body.
Knoxville, along with BMX pro Mat Hoffman, and Academy Award winning director Daniel Junge (“Saving Face”), who co-wrote the screenplay with David Coombe, recently sat down at Bartels’ Harley-Davidson dealership in Marina del Rey, Calif., to talk about making the documentary (Knoxville is one of the producers), their admiration for the iconic daredevil and the legacy he created through his death-defying stunts.