Eddie Braun, Famed Stuntman, Discusses Planned Evel Knievel-Like Jump At Snake River Canyon [Exclusive]
UPDATE: Friday night, Braun successfully completed the jump. Braun’s rocket reached approximately 400 mph after launch and covered more than 1,400 feet.
Before The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon first appeared on the screen in 2010, Americans only knew one man as a true motorcycle rider: Evel Knievel. One of the greatest daredevils in history, Knievel dazzled and wowed fans all around the world in his trademark patriotic jumpsuits — colored in nothing but red, white, and blue — before retiring in 1980 after sustaining over 40 broken bones in his career.
Now, one of Knievel’s biggest fans will try to replicate — and surpass — one of the few things the late patriot was unable to accomplish: blast across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon without falling short.
Eddie Braun, a stuntman who has most notably appeared in The Avengers, Ted, and Two and a Half Men, will replicate the jump Knievel couldn’t finish on Saturday, September 17. Evel’s son Kelly Knievel, who attended the original jump, and rocket designer Scott Truax, whose father made the rocket Knievel used in the jump, both will be in attendance.
Earlier this year, Braun said the following in an interview with the Associated Press.
“Evel took off on one side of the canyon in 1974. I’m hoping his spirit lands on the other side of the canyon in 2016. How many people get to fulfill the dreams of their hero? It’s kind of like touching Superman’s cape.”
This weekend, Braun will have a chance to make Superman look like Superboy when he takes off in his “Evel Spirit” rocket, the name of which honors the fallen daredevil. With the big day approaching, it would be easy for nerves to consume the 54-year-old stuntman and make him reconsider this jump.
In a one-on-one interview with the Inquisitr on Wednesday afternoon, however, Braun made one thing clear: This isn’t about upstaging his boyhood hero, but about honoring him.
“The reason I became a professional stuntman and stunt coordinator was that I had met Evel Knievel as a small child. I met him and here he was, a guy with a key; he was like a superhero. I met him and from that point on, I didn’t want to be anything else but a professional stuntman. My first injury was actually jumping over trash cans and breaking my arm! I’ve been very, very lucky and very fortunate to have been this career for over 30 years.”
Braun’s bravery and humility are apparent with the way he talks and the way he gushes about Knievel all of these years later. This is far from someone who wants to capitalize on someone else’s success or try to steal the limelight but is instead akin to a small boy dressing in a jersey of his favorite football player and painting the skin beneath his eyes black.
Most likely, that plays a key reason why Evel’s son Kelly has nothing but kind words for the stuntman over the years. Kelly, along with the rest of his family, will also be in Iowa to cheer Braun on this weekend.
“Eddie put together the team and he’s the one that got it done. It’s very dangerous — and very ambitious.”
The respect is a two-way street for Braun and the Knievel family, who have all been extremely supportive of the stuntman.
“The whole Evel Knievel family has embraced what I’m doing and it’s been pretty great. Once I decided that I wanted to undertake this, part of that equation was I could not do it — I would not do it — unless I had the support of the Knievel family; it would have been sacrilege otherwise. There’s only one Evel Knievel and I’m not him. It bothers me when I hear people say ‘you’re doing what Evel Knievel could not do.’ No, I’m not. I’m simply fulfilling his dream — I mean, how many people in this world can say they get to fulfill the dreams of their hero?”
In the entertainment world, a trope known as Ascended Fanboy exists. Saturday, over 36 years after Knievel retired, fans will see a new chapter added to the legendary patriot’s story. This time, it’s an ascended fanboy taking over the biography that is Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel’s and doing the writing.
The final word goes to Braun, who summed things up by saying the following.
“There’s a very good reason that I named my rocket the ‘Evel Spirit’ and not the ‘Eddie Braun.’ This is about a man who inspired a generation and I am the personification of that inspiration.”
[Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images]