Johnny Knoxville knows what it’s like to be a daredevil, or at least in his case, to be completely out of his mind. They actually mean the same thing, but if you asked Knoxville about Evel Knievel, he was neither crazy nor was he a daredevil. In Johnny’s own words, Knievel was a flawed superhero, but a supehero nonetheless.

That’s pretty much the premise of “Being Evel”, a new documentary about the life and myth of American icon Robert ’Evel’ Knievel. Don’t confuse this documentary with the “I Am Evel Knievel” documentary created by Virgil Films and Spike TV. Being Evel comes to us by way of Knoxville, History Films, and documentary director Daniel Junge.

Hard as it sounds to picture Knoxville not blowing his nuts to pieces, this documentary appears to come from the serious side of the MTV star. He waxes poetic on the influence Knievel had, not just on himself, but an entire generation of daredevils and stunt men and women who are now labeled as “professionals” for doing the things only Knievel had the cajones to do back in the 1970s.

“Nobody ever went for it like that before,” Knoxville mused in the short trailer of the documentary. It’s about as insightful as Knoxville’s going to get, and he hit it on the spot.

Yet like every success story that inevitably reaches a “but”, Knievel’s worldwide fame came with a price, and a heavy one at that. The documentary also dives deep into the Knievel’s demons, acquired as a price for the fame and glory he received for all of his death-defying exploits.

“Being Evel” covers the full breadth of Knievel’s life, from his triumphs to his heartbreaks, it’s all there, captured in the words of people who knew Evel or loved him from a distance. It’s a rich story about the life and times of one of America’s most iconic stunt riders, unfiltered for all the world to see.

Continue reading to read more about the Being Evel documentary.

Why it matters

Even Knievel remains one of the most fascinating American celebrities that I can think of. I don’t know if his mythology had more to do with his death-defying craft or his larger-than-life personality, but what I do know is that his legacy still lives on, specifically in extreme sports where today’s athletes have turned into celebrities in their own right.

In a lot of ways, Knoxville was right when he credited Knievel as being one of the godfathers of extreme sports in the US. Without him doing all those incredible stunts back in the 70s, there’s no telling if there would’ve been another one like him that kids back then would’ve look up to and try to emulate to a certain degree.

But as much praise as Knievel got for being a trailblazer, he was also displayed a darker side to him that a lot of celebrities in the 70s fell into. Some will argue that he got too big for his own good, living the life of a king despite not knowing the ramifications of what he was doing.

Again, I don’t want to think of Knoxville as a source of quotes, but he hit it in the head again when he said that Knievel lived a life that was “fast, faster, and disaster.”

That’s the story the “Being Evel” documentary wants to show. It’s not just about the man in the bedazzled star-spangled suit doing stunts nobody else was doing back then. If we really want to know who the real Evel Knievel was, we’d have to look at his life from all angles, even the ones hidden beneath the shadows.

Source: Zero Media

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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