What's a dinner party without friends unless someone is getting body slammed into a table?
Just ahead of the “Jackass Forever” premiere, cast members were having dinner in St. Louis. So, naturally, the appetizer was Brock Lesnar body slamming Wee Man onto a table. Laughs ensued.
Presumably, this happened because Wee Man doesn’t care. Well, he cares. He just doesn’t care in ways that matter. He lives life liberated from the usual shackles of worrying what people think or whether or not you should, I don’t know, get absolutely destroyed by a famed fighter for the laughs.
Jason Acuña, professionally and affectionally referred to as Wee Man, is about to see the fourth Jackass movies premiere. “Jackass Forever” opens nationwide on Friday, Feb. 4.
We chat over video. He wears a brown camouflage jacket and, more importantly, the iconic smile that has made him a household name and one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
Through four movies, a wildly popular MTV series, and so many other beloved examples of entertaining jackassery, he maintains the calm cool of a master yogi ever in the present.
“I think it's just my carefree like, I don't give [a care] about anything,” he tells En Fuego. That makes it just real easy. I don't stress. Like nothing bothers me.”
His nonchalance and generosity as a performer were covered beautifully in a recent profile by the New York Times’ Caity Weaver.
Whether reading about the man who was born in Italy and grew up in Southern California or seeing him amid his many exploits, there is a sense of familiarity. It's a closeness with the audience that has helped the popularity of this fraternity of misfits.
Launching on MTV in 2000, “Jackass” took the hilarity of VHS stunts and prank videos circulating among skateboard circles and turned them into something that would shape the zeitgeist at the turn of the century.
Wanting to up the ante, “Jackass: The Movie” removed whatever minimal filter may have hindered the television version. Now in its fourth iteration, the legacy cast, now consists of Wee Man, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey, and Preston Lacy.
During a recent Reddit AMA, Knoxville and Pontius answered one of the most popular questions following any Jackass movie premiere: When are we getting more?
“Half ass stuntmen are terrible long-term planners, so I'm not sure what the future hold but we will definitely do things together,” the post reads. “As for another Jackass, who knows...we could do one, we could not do one. But there is a possibility.”
Doing things together is pretty much what you can expect from a franchise that relies on shock and curating the unexpected.
Originally slated for a late October release, the movie was delayed due to the pandemic. Acuña explains that the hiatus is something the cast is used to. They go off, live their lives and upon their return pick up where they left off. Like siblings coming together without missing a beat.
“It feels like the same thing,” he said. “And even when we got back together 10 years after doing the third movie it, it felt like we hadn't stopped.”
Audiences will realize right away that despite being older, the energy and passion to have fun in all they do remains very much a palpable asset in the film. “It feels so good being around your bros that are actually like family now. So, it's a good fun feeling it. It feels just like day one back when we were filming with VHS tapes.”
Freedom to Skate
Day one for Wee Man was quite some time ago, back when capturing gaps and spills was analog. Back then, the man who would later feature in so many iconic moments captured on film was impressed by the skateboard his mom’s boyfriend turned up with one day. He made it known that very second, he wanted one too.
Acuña’s very next big gift was a skateboard of his own. And he was hooked. It wasn’t because of the flash of pulling off tricks or the notoriety. It was something purer than that.
“Ever since then, I think I love the freedom that skateboarding gave and there is no height requirement for skateboarding,” he said. “You could be a little one-year-old kid to a ninety-year-old dad, and you could just go push, and you're skateboarding.”
By 14, Wee Man earned sponsorships for his skating acumen. At 19, he featured in the famed Big Brother magazine—a publication for which Acuña also once worked as the subscription manager—something of a spiritual precursor to Jackass, replete with its own set of stunts.
He explains that skateboarding was an avenue for him to be himself outside of what the world saw at first glance.
I explain to Wee Man that his iconic calling card has to be the smile he wears anytime he’s on camera. He’s this vivacious presence that brings so much positive energy to any scene in which he features.
He explains that it comes from his very simple outlook on life. And it’s served him well as his antics have catapulted him and his castmates into superstardom.
While others worried about the prospects of fame and being noticed wherever they go, he is quick to point out that has been something of a lifelong thing for him.
“When I was younger, people would get worried about being pointed at or talking, and I'm like, I've had that my whole life,” Wee Man said. “So, when we became famous and people started staring at me in restaurants because of who I am, it was just the same feeling I got for when I would go into a restaurant and I was the different person walking in than the average Joe.”
It boils down to moving forward and living his life in a way that makes him happy. “I just have this like carefree, nonchalant, you know...I don't care.”
From what I’ve gleaned through our brief conversation, his work on TV and film, and what has been written about him, he does care. He cares a lot. It’s just that he cares about what matters in life.
The benefit of that is a levity to his presence. Wee Man’s figured out the key to happiness and he’s willing to share.
It’s hanging with your buddies and embracing your passions. It allows you to push off and keep the momentum, gliding gracefully as you would at the skatepark or down the block.
The latest Jackass may be the last film in the series of just the latest installment for a group that has become an inextricable part of American pop culture.
Their success is due to their undeniable authenticity to what they find funny. It’s not about content but rather about having a good time. From what I can see, the Jackass crew is having a blast, and it shows with a film that is every bit as insane and every bit as fun as its previous iterations.
“Jackass Forever” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, Feb. 4.