It seems like just yesterday when I first met Ryan Dunn. I remember that day very well. MTV had just picked up the jackass TV series, and all of us from LA flew out to West Chester, PA, for the first time to film with Bam and the rest of his buddies. That’s when I met Ryan and it was the beginning of our working relationship that would last for the next eleven years.
When we arrived at Bam’s parents’ house, I was introduced to Ryan. I remember him being really excited about the opportunity to shoot with all of us, and that’s when we drove over to the septic treatment tank. Boy, let me tell you, Ryan was ready to jump into some shit. I was shocked. I still can’t believe it to this day that he would want to do such an act, but that was our introduction to what would become known as the Random Hero.
I always liked shooting with Ryan. He was really easy to work with and didn’t have an ego; he was very humble about his jackass success. Ryan knew his role with everything and played it very well. When finished up with a day's worth of shooting, he would be the first one to disappear and head straight for the bar. There was this place in West Chester he would always take us to—a "members only" bar. I think it was called the Eagles Club. Ryan loved this place. You would walk into this “club” and it would be filled with so much cigarette smoke you could barely see the other side of the bar. I would be gasping for air 'cause I don’t smoke, but Ryan would be sitting at the bar, drinking his beer and smoking his cigarette, sharing stories with a big smile on his face. You can take it or leave it, but this was Ryan’s paradise.
We didn’t get to see Ryan very much during the filming of jackass 2.5 ... he kind of went on hiatus for a while and took a break from everything. But a few years later, during the end of jackassworld, Chris Pontius, Loomis Fall, Mike G. and myself took a trip out to West Chester to visit with Ryan. It was good to see him again and you could tell he was feeling better about things, getting excited again. That’s when I learned Ryan was really passionate about building race cars and going out and competing. Ryan took us over to his custom shop where he would spend a lot his time. He had like ten cars sitting around, some worked, others didn’t, but when it came down to it he would like to drive them hard and fast! I think it was just so he could blow up the engine. That way he would have to rebuild it.
During that same visit to West Chester, Ryan insisted we come over to his house and hang out. When we arrived at his place, he gave us the full tour of his house, showing us everything he had. We ended up staying for a while, kicking back in his living room, all of us having a good time and enjoying each others company. That’s when Ryan decided to break out his photo books of his and Angie's life together. After I would finish looking at one the photo books, he would give me another book to look at and then another one. By the time I was finished, I think I'd looked at at least five photo books. Now, when I look back on that evening, I think Ryan wanted to show me how happy he was spending his life with Angie and how much he loved her.
When jackass 3D rolled into production, Ryan seemed to be the happiest I’ve ever seen in all the years of knowing him. Just take note of any of the shots from the movie. Ryan had a glow to him and looked content with his life. During the first week of shooting, Ryan and Bam decided to call the cops on Danger Ehren. They reported to the police that a crazy fan was stalking them on set and ordered a restraining order against him. After half an hour they finally called the cops back and changed the request, but Ryan and Bam couldn’t stop laughing for like an hour. And anytime Danger would walk near Ryan and Bam, both of them would start laughing all over again. You could tell Ryan was enjoying everything around him and was happy with his life.
One of my favorite days working on jackass 3D was during our stay in West Chester. It was a Sunday afternoon and we had the day off. Jeff Tremaine, Knoxville and myself went to go play softball with Ryan and his friends at a park in the woods. Ryan really loved America’s pastime, and getting the chance to see him with Angie and the rest of his friends enjoying the simple things that life has to offer is just another nice way to remember him by.
I really don’t know what else to say other then that I’ve been a little devastated and saddened by Ryan’s death. He was such a great guy and had so much going on at the moment—not to mention he really was at the top of his game. This accident has been such a shock to all of us at Dickhouse and the rest of the jackass family. I’m really going to miss my Random Hero.
(Top photo by Sean Cliver; Los Angeles, CA 2010; Bottom photo by Rick Kosick; Los Angeles, CA 2011)