[05/29/09 - 12:03 AM]
Interview: "Jesse James Is a Dead Man" Star Jesse James
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

Who is faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? While daredevil Jesse James may need some assistance from souped-up vehicles and a team of experts to take on his extraordinary stunts, he's proven over and over that he is quite the super man.

Spike TV is hoping big ratings will skyrocket leaps and bounds when it premieres "Jesse James Is A Dead Man" this weekend. The busy James, who also just wrapped a season on the Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," told our Jim Halterman about the new show, if his famous wife shares his love for adventure and, in case you were wondering, what scares him.

Jesse James's passion for the thrills associated with dangerous feats began at a very young age. "I jumped off the roof of my house onto a mattress when I was five. I was hooked!" It wasn't long before the Lynwood, California native went on to play football and, while still a teen, worked as a bodyguard for such rock groups as Danzig, Slayer and Soundgarden. His career took a turn when he opened his own bike shop, West Coast Choppers, and became the go-to guy for anything having to do with motorbikes.

Eventually, television found James and he was hosting the Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage" before Spike created "Jesse James Is A Dead Man." For an example of the types of stunts James will be doing on his new series, the opening episode finds him training to ride a Nitro bike that is supercharged by ultra-combustible nitro-methane fuel. The goal is to reach 200mph without either wiping out or finding the bike (and himself) engulfed in flames.

The show details the extensive training that James endured, including how to react if he were on fire by actually setting him on fire. Was this type of training typical for his feats on the show? "Yes," James replied. "Some episodes I train even harder. Every episode I go thru extensive training in order to prepare for my final challenge." In fact, he added, "Sometimes the training is harder than the actual challenge I am trying to take on."

Asked about the other stunts coming up this season, the 40-year old James deadpanned, "I'm going to try and balance my check book without a calculator." However, maybe he'll wish down the line that the challenges before him were that simple. "Seriously," he continued, "I ride a bike to the Arctic Circle, get chased by the police, do Figure 8 racing and race the Baja 500." An upcoming episode will also have James asking fans to come up with the craziest, most dangerous stunts for him to undertake.

While it may seem that extreme sports are solely about the adrenaline rush, James explained that while many think that the rush comes from losing control, "I think it's more about keeping in control." Another notion that he often hears is that the stunts are more about being physically fit and being able to perform the stunts. Wrong again. "I think it's 80% mental," James said. "It's about being smart on how to take on these challenges. The rest is all physical."

With a camera crew documenting the stunts that he does every week, would James, who reportedly broke two ribs and chipped his elbow in the course of filming, ever consider the word 'no' as an option if he decided that a stunt was too dangerous? Showing he isn't a careless daredevil, James replied that "'No' is always an option." That said, James did admit that in terms of the stunts he's done in his career, "I haven't said it yet."

The tabloids have had a field day with James and his famous movie star wife, Sandra Bullock, since the two were married in 2005 but the initially unlikely pairing have more in common that originally thought. While Bullock does not appear in the Spike series, the adrenaline rush that her husband craves is not alien to her in the least. "She's been with me for a bunch of this type of stuff," the twice-divorced James revealed. "She has two dirt bikes and rides the hell out of them!"

One of the more dangerous stunts of his career may have been James' participation on this past season of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice." While James competed alongside the likes of celebrities like Andrew Dice Clay, Dennis Rodman, Khloe Kardashian and Clint Black, how was experience with Joan Rivers, who ended up walking away with winning in the Donald Trump series? "I like Joan Rivers," he stated. "How can you not? She's like your grandma." Though he wasn't the winner of the season, James lasted on the show until the 12th task when he was "fired" by Donald Trump for holding back on his contacts and not raising any money for the task at hand. James summed up his appearance on the show by saying that "'The Apprentice' was drama-rama!"

While James seems to be the kind of adventurist who has probably tried everything more than once, he did express one feat he has yet to try. "I want to drive around the world in 30 days," he said. "Literally drive on every continent and get across every ocean and body of water." Assuming his new series is a hit, James said that that challenge "will be for season two!"

Besides launching the show on the Spike channel this weekend, "Jesse James Is A Dead Man" is also going to take over Spike.com on its premiere day, May 31. The site-wide stunt will allow users to get inside the mind of James as he reveals his favorite "guy things" such as his top music videos and his favorite car chases in the movies. The site also has a 3-D online racing game called "Demolition Death Race" where players can try to win the checkered flag and take out James himself.

Finally, for a guy that makes a living out of risking his life in death-defying feats, is there anything that absolutely scares him? "Spiders! Gross!"

"Jesse James Is A Dead Man" premieres on Sunday at 10:00/9:00c on Spike TV.

  [may 2009]  


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