Jessica Simpson addresses forbidden romance with Johnny Knoxville in new book

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4-min read

There was something to that gossip about Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville.

Radar Online obtained an early copy of the singer turned fashion mogul’s upcoming memoir, Open Book, and in it she talks about becoming emotionally involved with her Dukes of Hazzard co-star while making the 2005 film.

At the time, Simpson and Knoxville were married to other people — Nick Lachey for her and Melanie Clapp for him.

“It was like Johnny and I were prison pen pals, two people who wanted so much to be with each other but were kept apart” by their “respective spouses,” Simpson wrote.

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While Simpson kept up the facade of a happy marriage on her reality show, Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, she admitted she started flirting with the Jackass star while filming their movie in Louisiana in early 2005. Simpson — who looked better than ever rocking her infamous Daisy Dukes — said she and Knoxville started sending “love letters” back and forth. As a result, they developed an emotional bond that was far deeper than the one she had with her husband, she admitted.

Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville presenting at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. (Photo: REUTERS/Fred Greaves FSP/TZ)
Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville presenting at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. (Photo: REUTERS/Fred Greaves FSP/TZ)

“It’s funny, I know, because I placed such an emphasis on sex by not having it before marriage,” Simpson wrote. “After I actually had sex, I understood that the emotional part was what mattered. And Johnny and I had that, which seemed far more of a betrayal to my marriage than sex.”

Throughout production of the film, there were headlines about Simpson and Knoxville openly canoodling and allegedly having an affair. They both officially denied rumours with Knoxville, who played Luke to her her Daisy, telling GQ in July 2004 that they were “just friends” and the rumours were “hurtful to the families that are involved."

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Simpson wrote in her tome that she felt Lachey was giving her reason to turn elsewhere. At the time, “there were so many tabloid stories about Nick in strip clubs or talking to girls that I just didn’t know what to believe. Did he feel caught in this marriage? He kept putting himself into situations where he could be so easily accused of cheating. It was self-sabotage. And I was supposed to stay home and be Betty Crocker?”

Simpson, who was just 22 when she married 29-year-old Lachey in 2002, said they were fighting all the time by that point — and it wasn’t pretty.

“We would yell at each other, and then he would go out of town and not answer his phone,” she said of their epic battles. “Vegas or Miami with his boys. Or he would just stay out late to teach me a lesson.” She added that she wasn’t a fan of those “boys,” writing “He had a group of guy friends who used him to get into places and enjoy VIP treatment at strip clubs and bars. He liked that scene, and I thought it was gross.”

Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson at the Shrine Auditorium in 2005 (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Dukes of Hazzard premiered in July 2005, with Simpson and Knoxville attending with their respective spouses. The co-stars then traveled the globe to promote the film, with every appearance they made — and there were many — scrutinised. Around that time, Knoxville appeared on Howard Stern and took a lie-detector test, answering questions about Simpson. While the polygraph indicated that he had not slept with the singer but had kissed her, he maintained there was nothing going on.

In November of that year, Simpson and Lachey announced they were separating. While that could have potentially led to Simpson and Knoxville getting together, he remained married to Clapp — but only until July 2006. (Though one of Knoxville’s friends may have had a fling with Simpson. Jackass’s Bam Margera claimed in 2006 that he had hooked up with Simpson while she was married to Lachey after a drunken night. It’s unclear if that is true.)

Singer Jessica Simpson and husband Nick Lachey arrive at the MTV Awards at the American Airlines Arena Sunday Aug. 28, 2005 in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Singer Jessica Simpson and husband Nick Lachey arrive at the MTV Awards at the American Airlines Arena Sunday Aug. 28, 2005 in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

By the time of Simpson’s divorce, her dance card was pretty full anyway. In another excerpt from the book that was previously released, she talked about meeting John Mayer in January 2005 — again, still married to Lachey — and they started corresponding, as well, with their notes quickly becoming more intimate. So that all played out while Simpson was also “prison pen pals” with Knoxville.

Not long after her split from Lachey, Simpson got together with Mayer, who told her “he wanted to have all of me or nothing.” The pair went public with their romance in the summer of 2006, but it fizzled as well.

Simpson got together with her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson in 2010, and they are parents to three. Knoxville remarried that same year.