In another interview, you compared yourself to a used car salesman who has to figure out who' best to do one of these bits, and then how you're going to get them to do it. You have to sell them on it.
I would even up used car salesman to a psychologist. I got called out by Aaron in India. He pulled me aside and I was sort of talking him into something and he said, "You know what, you're just a used car salesman and I've bought five cars off of you already and three of them have worked." I was trying to get him to lay down on a bed of nails and we were going to put cobras on his chest and have snake charming-combining all the stereotypes of India.
Did you send him some Indian food, and give him diarrhea to top it off.
Yeah, exactly. We put a painted elephant in the shot to make it really Indian looking. I call him over to sort of talk him through the idea and he' like, 'Lay on a bed of nails, fuck no.' So I was like, 'Look, I'll show you. I sat down on it and it was sort of not built right. The key to a bed of nails is that you have to have a lot of nails.
This one didn't quite have enough nails on it. I sat down on it to show him it' ok, and I'm like, fuck, that does hurt. And I stood up and our executive producer Trip Taylor was right there. I'm like, 'Hey Trip, lay down on this bed to show him that it' not that bad.' So Trip starts to lay down and all of a sudden he panics and slams his hand down and just impales it on a nail. Aaron is just looking like, 'Fuck this, let' get out of here. You can get Indian tetanus; there is no way I'm doing that.' And he walked me aside and that' when he called me out as a used car salesman so I had to sleep on it. He was basically the last guy who that idea trickled down to and he was the last guy I thought would do that idea. And I had to go to sleep and think of a new way. The next day, I figured, 'You know what, I'm just going to approach him real calmly about it.' I just walked him through it, we added some nails, and sure enough, he did it.
That' more than just being a psychologist.
That was because I was surprised. He called me out on my tactic and yet I somehow got him
Do these guys just love the adrenaline rush?
They just love seeing their face on TV, you know. That outweighs the hell they have to go through to get it.
What' the toughest stunt out of them all? I mean, you told me about the nails, but is there one that is more outrageous?
Oh man, we had this horrifying experience. Knoxville wanted to play with rockets. And we're talking about rockets that will propel you from point A to point B. So we built this huge Wile E. Coyote-looking rocket. And he basically just goes up and straddles it and flies. On the first test, we set him up on there and basically it' like a cardboard cylinder, a really dense, hard cylinder.
It had six powerful rocket engines, held by a piece of plywood at the back and they told us, 'Look, if the rocket engine is going to fail, it' going to shoot you forward or backward, so don't be in front of or behind the rocket.' Well, the rocket is on a 45 degree angle on the launch ramp and sure enough, the first, well we had done tests, the tests are horrifying because the rocket is flying about 50 feet in the air and about 130 feet out into a lake but it' doing backflips. So, at some point, we were like, shit, Knox is going to get knocked off that thing. The rocket weighs about 100 pounds, so if you land on it or if it lands on you, you're fucked, and you've got to get away from it at some point but it' backflipping and really awkward. You know, there' not really a clean way to ride a rocket. So he lays on it and all of a sudden the thing just blows apart and we didn't realize how dangerous it was when it first happened. It just blew apart and he slid up the ramp and back down and he just walked away and he was laughing about it. We're all laughing, like, 'Oh shit that was crazy.' But then two of our prop guys who were about 300 yards away, working in the parking lot, said a rocket flew by their heads that could have killed them. They were all in shock and we didn't even see it. It was so fast that this little metal tube just buzzed by their heads and then we watched the footage and Knox was straddling this rocket and it goes right between his arm and his leg about two inches over from his ribs. We watched it with a high definition camera frame by frame and it would have blown right through him. We're thinking about it: 'Holy shit, this is so dangerous.' And Knox was not going to let that one go unresolved, so we went back a couple of days later and did it. Boy.