When Ehren McGhehey’s friends jump off a bridge, he does too.
For the past 10 years McGhehey, an Oregon native and Portland resident, has been a member of Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass squad, throwing his body into literally breakneck stunts for a TV series and two movies. He describes himself as a “blue-color actor,” supplementing his daredevil flicks by running Danger Valley Skateshop in McMinnville. His latest cinematic foray, Jackass 3-D, wasn’t screened for critics, but the prior installments have been two of the most improbably happy films of the decade.
WW caught up with McGhehey last week to talk about Jackass 3-D over American Spirit cigarettes, salmon salad and an Arnold Palmer. He looked like your average thirtysomething skater, except he was missing his upper right lateral incisor.
WW: What’s the craziest stunt you do in this movie?
Ehren McGhehey: Probably the craziest thing I did was pull my tooth out with a Lamborghini. This tooth, my front tooth here, has been knocked out twice, so it’s just kinda become one of those things that just happens in filming. So we had the idea of tying it off to Bam [Margera]’s Lamborghini with fishing line and then ripping the tooth next to it out of my face. And it was perfectly healthy, totally good tooth. It was a little crooked, so that’s why I chose that one, but we ripped that out with some really strong fishing line. And I broke my face all the way up to almost my eye. And that was pretty gnarly. I also broke my back going down in a shopping cart at Tahoe. Going probably 30 miles an hour and hit a wall and flew over the water I was supposed to land in and hit another wall and injured my back. Got kicked in the nuts probably 17 times by a donkey playing pin the tail on the donkey.
Can you list the injuries you’ve received over the course of the show and the movies?
Before I started filming Jackass, I was a pro snowboarder and I had broke my neck and had neck surgery. I had my neck fused and then I blew out my knee and had an ACL reconstruction. And then when I started filming Jackass, it was a natural thing to go into—I know how to fall and I’m pretty stupid, so it’s a pretty good combination for a show like Jackass. Once I started filming that, I broke my arm. I’ve had two surgeries on my finger. I broke my nose four times. I’ve had nine surgeries on my knee total. Lost a total of now three teeth basically. Broke my back. Sunburned my body so bad that it took three months for it to actually heal and I still have the Speedo line and my legs swelled up so bad…’cause when I stood up all the water that was in my legs from the burn would go to my knee and just swell my knee up and I couldn’t walk. I’ve had 16 surgeries and I’m 33 years old, so I’ve had a surgery pretty much every year since I was 18.
Do you worry this show is shortening your lifespan?
I don’t know if I ever really planned on being this old. To be honest, I grew up in a mortuary for 12 years, and I learned that you don’t have a lot of time being alive. And I like to say I’m not just living but I’m alive and I’m fully going for it. Yeah, I’m in a lot of pain. Like my body is constantly in pain, but when I die, I definitely won’t look back and say I didn’t use my body to its full potential. And my regret from not doing something is usually worse regret than if I actually did something.
What does your family think of watching you get your teeth pulled out?
When I was 5 years old I fell off this cliff and my bike landed on top of me and cracked my head open, so it was a mess. My mom and dad got pretty used to me being a wild child. They support me 100 percent. It’s nice to have friends and family support you when you do stupid things.
SEE IT: Jackass 3-D is rated R. It opens Friday in 3-D at Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinema 99, Bridgeport, Cinetopia, Cornelius, Division, Evergreen, Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place and Sandy. It shows in 2-D at Broadway, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinema 99, Bridgeport, City Center, Division, Evergreen, Hilltop, Lloyd Center, Oak Grove, Sherwood, St. Johns Twin Cinema-Pub, Tigard and Wilsonville. Look for a review on wweek.com.