The Dudesons in America Bleed Red, White and Blue
For about as long as Johnny Knoxville and the guys from Jackass have been entertaining America with their dangerous, yet ridiculous stunts, the Dudesons have been entertaining Finland with their brand of extreme and outrageous behavior. Beginning in 2001 with their Finnish show, Extreme Duudsonit, which was a combination of extreme stunts comedy and reality; the show became the most widespread Finnish TV series of all time. Now the Dudesons, which consist of Jukka Hilden, Hannu-Pekka "HP" Parviainen, Jarno "Jarppi" Leppälä and Jarno Laasala, bring their exciting act to the U.S.A. with a new series called The Dudesons In America, beginning May 6th on MTV. In fact, the series is produced by Jackass: The Movie director Jeff Tremaine and the one and only Johnny Knoxville himself.
We recently had a chance to visit the set of the show in downtown Los Angeles where the Dudesons were shooting one of their latest stunts. The series will revolve around the boys' trip to the United States and involve them doing stunts with different types of American themes. "In general in the season we have just been doing American things like, the American hero is an astronaut so we wanted to train ourselves to become astronauts that can fly our own rocket ship into outer space," explained Hilden. "Amusement parks are big in America so we want to go to an amusement park and create our own ultimate Dudesons ride or game. So we do all those American themes throughout the season but this episode is action heroes." In fact, the day that we were visiting the set the Dudesons were shooting a stunt for their action hero episode. The stunt they were going to attempt was a reenactment of a car chase from a famous James Bond film. However the Dudesons were unable to name which one. "One of the legendary stunts, I can't remember which one but they say it is legendary and that this stunt has never been repeated," said Hilden. "That's the whole thing, in the Dudesons world that is easy to pull off." Hilden continued to explain the stunt they were about to attempt. "It's the legendary James Bond car barrel roll except that we are kind of missing some of the parts for the landing. In the movie the car lands on the bridge but we are just going to crash land it on the ground."
For the episode the guys all dressed as different Hollywood action stars ... sort of. Jukka was dressed like a pirate, Jarno, who also directs the stunts, was dressed like Zorro, Jarppi was dressed like a '1920s style movie director and "HP" who was going to drive the car in the stunt was wearing a tuxedo, just like James Bond of course. While "HP" was preparing for his big stunt, we spoke to Jukka and Jarppi about what we were about to see and what fans can expect from the upcoming season. We asked Jukka what he thought "HP" was feeling while he was preparing and if they ever get scared before a big stunt? "Oh we got a lot of fear, every time we get hurt we cry and run to our Mom's for band aids. We are scared shitless. "HP" is scared shitless about it right now and that's the good thing about it. Right before you go through a stunt, the adrenalin that is rushing through your body and how you are about to poop your pants is a good old kick. But in the Dudeson's world there is no stunt that you can't do. Nothing is impossible for us, at least before we do it. A lot of the things we think about work perfectly on paper even if the outcome is different."
We followed up by asking if today's stunt was any more dangerous than any thing that they had attempted before? "We've done a lot of different car stunts and crashes but this is definitely one of the most dangerous," said Jukka. "He's going about fifty miles an hour and hitting that ramp. We really have no idea how it's going to end up. Jarppi broke his back doing a car stunt on the second episode and it landed on four wheels. It was such a high impact that it broke his back." "Well there are a lot of moving parts and I think it is in God's hands now," joked Jarppi. "Pretty much what we do is not want to add too many moving parts and so it's pretty much just about getting "HP" into the car, putting the peddle to the medal and see what happens." We asked Jukka how much they rehearse a stunt in advance? "We don't test anything, the only thing that you do is you jump in the car and you see how it runs so you kind of have a feeling with the car. But we rehearse on camera, that's how you get the most real reactions," Jukka explained. "You go in there and you see what happens. Looking at the outcome of this season, we've done eight episodes and out of those eight episodes we went to hospital five times so that pretty much proves that we don't rehearse too much."
Jarppi continued to discuss the cast's constant trips to the hospital this season. "Lets just say that for this season we had a really strong start. We've had accidents all around the season while we are shooting but the start was like, Jarno broke his ribs on the second day, I broke my back on the forth day and Jukka broke his ankle and tailbone on the sixth day. So we were like, okay guys lets calm down a little, we've got six days done, three trips to the hospital and fifty-five odd days left to go," Jarppi explained. "We had a lot of bad luck. That's not what we are going for," Jukka said. "It's not about who can break the most bones, it's about the excitement of the stunts and the creative things that we can pull off." "So we just turn the page and move on," continued Jarppi. It's about the idea. If you get an outrageous, great idea then you want to pull it off. We don't say this is what happened in the past because it already happened. We don't want to think bad about it or think, what did we do wrong? It happens so lets move forward."
"For this particular episode the mission is that we wanted to recreate all these legendary Hollywood action movie stunts," explained Jukka. "Like you know, Indiana Jones running away from the boulder? Well, the boulder nailed us. So we wanted to do different things like that. We had some Pirate things that we did and some Zorro stuff."
"We hit a candle off somebody's butt," continued Jarppi. "We hit the light off of a candle that was sticking out of somebody's butt with a whip like Indiana Jones. The series is called The Dudesons In America and we're here to chase the American dream."
"Our way of living the American dream is interesting and has a little bit of a twist to it," said Jukka. "Uncle Sam is our new best friend that's why we love red, white and blue. We bleed red, white and blue now!"
As we continued to talk to the guys, Jukka began to explain the connection between the Duedsons and Jackass. "Our show first came out in Finland a month later than Jackass started here. It is a funny coincidence to have two shows that are so similar, and have similar backgrounds because we skated and snowboarded, but it comes from that culture. We used to watch them and get inspired by what they did. It's one big happy family now. Johnny Knoxville is an executive producer on this show and we are all just one big happy family. He's in about three different episodes this season and Bam Mangera and those guys too." Jukka discussed further what it was like collaborating with Knoxville on the show. "Yeah we told them, hey Johnny we want to do this with you, how do you feel about it? Then he maybe, adds something to it you know that's how it goes. You throw something in there, they throw something on top of it and that's how you get new ideas. We thought of some ideas that we don't know how to do yet and they have thrown in some good ideas to help but it is a scary combination when you put us together with them. It's inspiring."
We asked Jukka how the Dudesons decide who is going to do what stunt? "Well we all want to do the big stunts so it's like a competition for us but then we just look and say okay, you did the last big car stunt so this time its my turn. It goes like that. But the first episode that is airing May 6th is a follow the leader episode where one of us gets to lead and the other Dudesons have to follow. If they can't follow, they have to drop out of the game and as punishment they get a hot, bull branding iron with USA marked on their ass. On some episodes we compete and then the winner gets to do a big stunt. In one episode we tried to make a car do a three-sixty in the air and it's never been done before but again, nothing is impossible for the Dudesons. I'm not telling you what the outcome is; you'll have to watch it yourself. It's been fun and America has been treating us good."
Next, we decided to ask Jukka which stunt has been his favorite to do so far this season? "Well I like to work with animals because they are unpredictable and you don't know what is going to happen," Jukka explained. "We do this thing in the first episode where we walk into a bullring on old school stilts that are about six feet high. You walk into the bullring, look the bull in the eyes and you say, "release the beast." Then they let it go, you try to dance with the bull and it just comes at you and nails you! The name for that bull was Body Bag. It had huge horns but that is the easy thing working with animals especially bulls, they take care of their business. You just have to get in there, they always deliver." We posed the same question to Jarppi. "Besides the one that broke my back," he replied. "Well that was not my favorite stunt, of course," joked Jarppi. "It is a small thing but we were shooting at Lake Tahoe and filming in the snow conditions. You know how you stick your tongue on an iron pole? We had an iron pole that we froze with the dry ice and I was looking Jukka in the eye and on "three, two, one" stuck our tongues on the pole. All the skin from our tongues got ripped off by the pole and we lost the sense of taste."
"We can't taste anymore," added Jukka. "It's slowly coming back. But it was about two months ago that we did it and it's just starting to come back now," explained Jarppi. "I guess we're not going to be wine tasters. It was kind of fun because we did it together. It was interesting. We learned that that stunt is unrepeatable. We did it tons of times when we were kids but we never used dry ice." Certainly you only did that stunt once, we asked? "Well, we might of stuck it there once or twice or more than five times. It was numb for two weeks but slowly I'm getting the taste back. Now I can eat garlic again," finished Jukka.
Finally, it was just about time for the main event and as "HP" was mounting his vehicle, a car fittingly painted red, white and blue, Jarppi and Jukka shared some final thoughts. "In the end it is a matter of hitting the ramp," said Jarppi. "He will hit the ramp, go flying up and barrel roll in the air. Nobody knows. We would prefer a landing on roof or the side," concluded Jukka. As the tension began to build you could see that the Dudesons were concerned for their friend. Finally it was time. "HP" drove the car about a hundred feet back and began his approach. The car raced aside the L.A. River towards its target, a makeshift ramp, set with explosives that were ready to blow. The car sped through the sand at about fifty miles an hour and hit its target perfectly. The car went up the ramp on two wheels, hit the explosives and flipped once landing on it's back. Not a complete barrel roll but exciting to watch nonetheless. You could feel the heat coming off the explosion and the noise that it made was almost deafening. The air was very quiet as paramedics and crew raced to "HP" to see if he was alright and after a few seconds he got out of the car, a little shaky but just fine.
We spoke to "HP" directly after the stunt to get his response and see how he was feeling about how it went. "Well at first you feel dizzy for a while and you are just shaking. After that just big smile, you are so excited. Adrenaline is pumping and afterwards your hands get the shakes. It's all about the adrenaline and it went bigger than I expected. It felt so amazing." When the car hit the ramp and exploded it was in flames and it looked like "HP" might have also been caught on fire, so we asked him if that was what actually happened? "The whole car was in flames. No, just the car was on fire and I could feel the heat. I wasn't on fire but I couldn't feel down to my knees for a while so I thought maybe I'm on fire but I wasn't." He continued to explain what was going on in his head during the stunt. "I was so nervous, I couldn't even speak. I didn't have any kind of thoughts; I just wanted it to be over. I decided when I started to stop thinking, put the pedal to the metal and hit the ramp and see what happens." We asked Jarno, who directed the stunt if he thought it was successful? "Well here we failed because we were trying to do a barrel roll but the failure is a good thing when it is coming from the Dudesons. We didn't know that the explosion was going to be quite so big but we always go for the failure, that's part of the plan," he explained. However, "HP" himself had the final words. "This was big success," he exclaimed!