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Fast Chat: Steve-O is no jackass

Actor Steve-O arrives at PETA's 30th Anniversary Gala

Actor Steve-O arrives at PETA's 30th Anniversary Gala and Humanitarian Awards in Los Angeles. (Sept. 25, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Stephen Glover, aka Steve-O of MTV's stunt / prank franchise "Jackass," doesn't actually ever turn his head 180 degrees.

It just seems like it sometimes when he, Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the Jackasses - note the capital J! We mean it nicely! - fall, collide, slip, jump into, bump into and run with things that crash, bite, explode and otherwise cause grievous bodily harm.

He has, however, turned his life around 180 degrees. A recovering substance abuser who's been clean for more than two years, Steve-O, 36, has made it through drugs, alcohol, medication for bipolar disorder, aimlessness and failure. But he fought back, and now his dad, Richard Edward "Ted" Glover - an executive who held top positions with PepsiCo, RJR Nabisco and other multinational companies - proudly tells an alumni newsletter, "My son lives in Los Angeles, where he hosts a reality TV show and has appeared in three movies. My daughter teaches high school history, politics and economics at a school in Florida." (Their mother, Donna Gay Glover, died in 2003.)

The movie "Jackass 3D," coming out Friday, features a now sober Steve-O doing stunts. He spoke with frequent Newsday contributor Frank Lovece.

You've been clean for ...

Two and a half years. ... Drugs and alcohol really just took me to a place where I did a lot of mean, nasty stuff. Stapling my [testicles]to my leg had nothing to do with me getting sober, but I carried a lot of guilt and shame for a lot of other stuff I did.

But just the on-camera stuff you do - I mean, wow ... why do you do it?

If you think about it, we have one instinct that overrides everything else, and that's our instinct to survive. Fight or flight, but whatever you do, don't die. And yet we know we're going to die. It's like, how is that not a -- cruel prank on us, man? I feel like our very -- existence is a -- prank on us, you know? The one thing we don't want to do is die; the only thing we're guaranteed to do is die!

Have you been reading Kierkegaard or something? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm actually asking.

This is something that's [ticked] me off since I was a kid. I feel like the purpose of our lives is to somehow come to terms with dying. People have kids and their motivation a lot of the time is so a part of them lives on. That's why people are religious, because they're afraid of being dead, and they feel like they're going to go to heaven, so they won't [really] be dead. For me, it was a video camera. When I die, if I have enough video footage of all this gnarly stuff I did, then there will be evidence that I lived and I can still make people laugh and entertain people. I really found religion in the video camera.

The movie has a giant, spring-loaded hand whacking your fellow Jackass Bam Margera right off his feet. The conception, the timing - that was actually pretty funny in a silent-movie slapstick way.

Part of me is jealous of that I could die.

And you didn't ask your parents for help, because ... ?

My upbringing instilled in me the kind of pride that I wasn't going to expect my parents to pay me. I wasn't in school, I wasn't working, I wasn't being productive. No part of me expected my parents to pay me to be living that way. And it's weird because all these years later, I said, "Dad, you weren't going to pay me to be a piece of --." And Dad said, "Well, you never gave me the option."

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