Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Jackass star Ryan Dunn

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According to a report in TMZ (and later confirmed by Bam Margera's mother), Jackass star Ryan Dunn has died, following a grisly, early-morning car crash where Dunn's Porsche slammed into a tree and burst into flames in West Goshen, Pennsylvania. An unidentified passenger was also killed. Dunn had posted a picture of himself drinking with friends just two hours before the accident. He was 34.


As a member of Jackass, Dunn’s death may seem like the inevitable result of a life spent attempting to cheat it, which makes eulogizing him a somewhat difficult task—not to mention the fact that he also belonged to something called the Camp Kill Yourself Crew. There were plenty of other ghoulishly symbolic prognostications of Dunn’s fate if you go looking for them: During a skit in Jackass: The Movie, for example, Dunn briefly knocked Johnny Knoxville unconscious when a golf cart stunt went wrong; in the DVD commentary, Dunn’s friend and frequent collaborator Margera joked about Dunn’s poor driving skills. In that same movie, Dunn famously places a toy car up his own rectum (a fact that’s mentioned in almost every obituary written today). And over the years, Dunn’s zeal for fast and reckless driving led him and Margera to participate in two different Gumball Rallies in addition to their other stunt work. All of this plus the fact that Dunn lived a life filled with risk and danger makes the circumstances of his death seem like a very mordant punchline—and even Dunn may have seen the humor in it, considering he obviously didn’t take himself too seriously.

Still, Dunn was a real person (as was the passenger who died with him), so instead of focusing on the details of his death, let’s talk about his life. In addition to performing on all seasons of the Jackass TV show and its three movies, Dunn was a regular presence on Margera’s shows Viva La Bam, Bam’s Unholy Union, and Bam’s World Domination, and he solo hosted Homewrecker, a home improvement series where renovations were motivated solely by revenge. On all of these, Dunn proved himself totally game for anything and everything—a merry prankster of the first order, with a genuine “fuck it” attitude and a deadpan, self-effacing humor that made him seem like a fun guy to hang out with, as long as you didn't mind the occasional sneak attack.

Dunn also acted, starring in the Margera-directed films Haggard—which was based on Dunn’s real-life experience with his cheating ex-girlfriend—and Minghags, as well as the films Blonde Ambition, Street Dreams, and Living Will.

He also contributed a small role to Law And Order: SVU in 2008. Dunn’s last film appearances were in this year’s drama Close-Up and the quasi-sequel Jackass 3.5, while his final completed roles in Welcome To The Bates Motel and Booted have yet to be seen. Most recently, Dunn debuted in G4’s Proving Ground, where he and co-host Jessica Chobot attempt to replicate action scenes from movies, TV shows, and video games. The show premiered just last week; it’s unclear yet what will happen to it in the wake of Dunn’s death. UPDATE: G4 tells EW that Proving Ground has been pulled from the network's schedule "until we discuss next steps."