Exclusive: Steve-O On His Road to Recovery

Exclusive: Steve-O On His Road to Recovery - Page 3

By Anna David 06/19/11

Jackass star Ryan Dunn died after a night of heavy drinking. So how did his most self-destructive co-star manage to get out alive? Now three years sober, Steve-O talks about doing stunts without cocaine, walking down carpets he used to piss on, and how he finally managed to turn his life around.

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How did the stand-up start?

About five years ago, a guy who had a comedy show invited me to the Laugh Factory. He was like, “Dude, I want you to come and get onstage and do something totally crazy,” and I thought, “The craziest thing I could do, by far, would be to get on that stage and not do any stunt, but just try to make people laugh.” I had some stuff I had come up with, and I threw it out there, and I got some legit laughs. I remember thinking, “Fuck, I just got laughs and I entertained people without having to hurt myself or do anything demeaning.” About a year ago, I met Dane Cook and he mentored me. As we were shooting the last Jackass, I was in the comedy clubs every night and working, and an 11-minute set turned into a 20-minute set turned into more. I was hammering away at it, and then when the movie came out, I went on Howard Stern and was like, “Hey Howard, get me a gig in New York, I’m doing stand-up every night and I’m fucking crushing it.” And it really took off from there.

What was it like shooting the third Jackass movie once you were sober?

I was dreading the stunts more than I ever had before, and at the same time, I was probably more eager than ever to do them, because it was so important to me to prove that I still had that in me—that sobriety hadn’t turned me into a pussy. For the opening scene, I had to jump into the ceiling fan, just like I did in the first movie. It was sober Steve-O versus loaded Steve-O. In preparation for the first movie, I bought an eight ball of cocaine and one or two vials of Ketamine. I sat there doing line after line of the blow, just looking at that fan and I was like, “Fuck you, fan, you’re going down, I’m going to fucking kill you.” It was all really effective and it worked great. And then, for the third movie, I was sitting under the fan sipping water, thinking, “Man, I hope I don’t get paralyzed.” [Laughs] “I hope I don’t land on my head and break my neck.” But when it comes down to it, “One, two, three, go,” has always been, “One, two, three, go.” The difference was the anxiety and the agonizing over potential bad outcomes before but doing the stunt was no different.

I imagine it hurt more the second time.

I got hurt both times. [Laughs]

Were you uncomfortable being around the Jackass guys for the third movie when so much of your time together before had been spent partying?

We have never really hung out without a reason except to get loaded. And in sobriety, you check your motives, and if you’re going to put yourself in a situation with people who aren’t sober, you want to be able to have a real reason to be in that situation. And I don’t have any legit reason to be in a situation to watch those guys drink. The whole time we did that third movie, I never once did that.

Have you been tempted to drink?

There’s a big difference between temptation and obsession. Temptations will come and go. The obsession has been lifted and temptation hasn’t turned to obsession—at least not in a good long time.

Anna David is the Executive Editor of The Fix and a magazine and book writer who discusses addiction on TV and at colleges around the country. She also interviewed Tom Sizemore and Nic Sheff for The Fix.