Interview: Talking NAPOLEON DYNAMITE 10 Years Later with Jon Heder
By Clarke Wolfe on June 12, 2014
Ten years ago, a little movie called Napoleon Dynamite took the comedy world by storm. Seemingly over night, the indie movie co-written and directed by Jared Hess and starring Jon Heder spawned a million catch phrases, t-shirts and had us all casting a vote for Pedro. Earlier this week the cast and crew reunited in Los Angeles to commemorate the ten year anniversary and Nerdist had a chance to chat with Napoleon himself, Jon Heder, about the unique movie making experience, creating the iconic character and what life has been like since.
When one finds themselves staring at their likeness immortalized as a bronze statue, you have to know that you’ve done something right. For Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder, how was the experience of the statue unveiling in Los Angeles? “It was great! It was awesome. We had a fun time. It’s weird seeing that statue…” Heder continued, “It’s weird thinking, ‘What’s it like to return to this?’ and I think a lot of these people, this is their life ten years ago and then they kind of moved on. Well, I’ve moved on career wise but at the same time, I get it all the time. It’s so much of my life so it doesn’t really feel like looking back, it doesn’t feel like ten years, it feels like I’ve been so used to this, I’ve gotten used to questions and talking about it, it’s just a part of who I am. It wasn’t some blip on the radar that happened so long ago, it feels like its always been there. I hear my voice every day, I can’t escape it!”
The character of Napoleon Dynamite was, and still is, one of the most unique creations to come out of the indie comedy scene. Where did Heder come up with him? “I think it was a perfect meeting between Jared and I because Jared really helped me find that character within myself. So much of the script, the character of Napoleon and the other characters are autobiographical to Jared himself. I mean, taken straight from experiences he had with his younger brothers and with himself, and when he came to me I read it and, you know, I didn’t grow up in Idaho, I didn’t have a llama as a pet but I had younger brothers, we went to Scout camp. I come from a big family, we just kind of got that culture… ” Heder added, “So much of the character I got from my younger brothers, how they are, constantly pissed off at everything, and just think life is unfair… when I was in high school and seeing them as middle schoolers and just like, ‘Get off of me you, idiot!’ And it was identical. We [Hess and Heder] were very lucky to have bumped into each other and be able to be completely in tune for the same character.”
Ten years later, having worked as a comedic actor for so long, is there anything else Heder would like to try? After receiving a degree in animation, the actor says he’d like to pursue writing, directing and producing in that aspect of filmmaking but he’s also interested in working in front of the camera in other generes. Heder explained, “I would love to do more drama, I would love to do an action flick. I think an action flick would be so much fun or a big sci-fi or a small sci-fi, I love sci-fi, really any size of sci-fi would be awesome.”
Napoleon Dynamite starring Jon Heder and directed by Jared Hess celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and is available on Blu-ray now.