Jon Heder – Napoleon Dynamite

November 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Interviews

For actor Jon Heder, starring as the awkward title character in the 2004 indie cult classic “Napoleon Dynamite” was more of a blessing than a curse.

“Because of it, I’ve been able to form a career,” Heder told me last year prior to his first-ever visit to San Antonio for Alamo City Comic Con. “I know actors who would kill for that. You are remembered for something — always.”

This week, Heder returns to the Alamo City for the second year in a row, this time for a conversation and special screening of “Napoleon Dynamite” at the Tobin Center. Joining Heder for the event will be actors Efren Ramirez and Tina Majorino, who played Pedro and Deb in the film, respectively.

I recently caught up with Heder again and talked about what he thinks Napoleon’s social media habits would be like today, why ligers are a totally logical animal and if he still has sweet tetherball skills.

When you get a chance to share “Napoleon Dynamite” with fans, is it more special when co-stars are with you?

That’s what makes it so fun. It’s a reunion for ourselves. It’s always such a treat to see Tina and Efren. I don’t hang out with tons of Hollywood people and co-stars. I mean, sometimes I see people, but I have my family and that’s pretty much who I stick to. So, we get to reminisce about the movie, but it’s also just about catching up and seeing each other.

I think some people might be disappointed to know that you don’t go barhopping with Will Ferrell (his co-star in the 2007 comedy “Blades of Glory”) regularly.

[Laughs] Maybe we’ll do that for the movie’s anniversary or something.

Did you know anyone like Napoleon when you were in high school?

I pulled a lot of inspiration for Napoleon from my younger brothers, but also from that loner kid who loved to do drawings and thought he was good at drawings but really wasn’t. I remember kids like that, for sure. The drawings in [“Napoleon Dynamite”], I did myself. I tried to copy the style that I remember kids drawing in school.

I wonder how much those drawings would go for today at Sotheby’s.

It would be sweet if it was in — the ones of dollars!

Do you think Napoleon would be someone who would attend his high school reunion, or would he be one of those guys that falls off the face of the earth?

I’ve asked myself that a lot — what would he be like today? Everybody is on social media, so you almost wonder if he would be, too. I think he would probably be using [social media] like most people do — convincing themselves that their life is better than it actually is by posting only the good things. I don’t think he’d be very good at it though. He’d probably just post pictures of food.

Before you were married, did you ever use the line, “I played Napoleon Dynamite” as a pick-up line?

I was actually already married when I made “Napoleon Dynamite,” so I never got to use that line! I don’t know if that line would’ve worked. If I used the line on my wife, it would’ve probably had the opposite effect. She would’ve been like, “Forget that and leave me alone!”

I have to admit something: I only recently found out that ligers are real animals. I was shocked. It was like when I found out narwhals were real animals.

I had never heard of a liger before I made the movie. In the movie, we represent them and draw them as if they are just magical creatures. But if you think about it, you’ll realize, “Well, if you breed a male lion with a female tiger, you’re going to get something!” And a liger is what you get — minus the magic.

How are your tetherball skills these days?

I was hanging out with some family friends during the summer and was at a birthday party of someone I didn’t know. They had a tetherball pole in their backyard. Some of the kids looked at me and said, “Hey, let’s play tetherball.” I was like, “Why are you asking me and not anyone else? Tetherball sucks!” I mean, it doesn’t suck, but it’s not as fun to play as bocce ball. I was like, “No, forget it. I’m just going to cream you if I play you!”

If Pedro ran for president in 2020, would you vote for him?

I probably would. He’s a good guy. We need someone with a pure heart. It would be great to have someone like that in office — someone who is actually a good person.

Jon Heder – Napoleon Dynamite (13th anniv.)

June 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Interviews

He probably won’t get a chance to draw any ligers or hunt wolverines like his title character in the 2004 indie cult hit Napoleon Dynamite, but actor Jon Heder, 39, is ready to have a killer time nonetheless when he makes his first trip ever to San Antonio for the Alamo City Comic Con May 26-28. The Current caught up with Heder last week to talk about all things Napoleon, including his famous dance scene.

When you think of San Antonio, Texas, what comes to mind?

I think of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and (sings) “Deep in the heart of Texas!” When you do something as memorable as that, it’s like a big commercial for San Antonio.

When did you realize “Napoleon Dynamite” was more than just a small indie film?

We didn’t know when we were making it, but we certainly thought it had potential. We knew there were a lot of great one-liners in the movie. We would all sit around and daydream about the possibilities like, “They could make our characters into talking dolls or action figures!” I didn’t know it until after it came out on DVD, but even when it was out [at theaters], people were already quoting it.

If social media was around in 2004, do you think Napoleon would’ve had a Facebook account?

Oh, no. If he had a phone, it would’ve been a flip phone or something Uncle Rico sold to him for $100. He would’ve saved up all his money and then been like (as Napoleon Dynamite), “What?! You can get these for free on eBay?! What a rip off!”

Do you consider it a blessing or a curse to be known for playing Napoleon?

At the end of the day it’s a blessing. Because of it, I’ve been able to form a career. At the same time, when you do an iconic, cult film character, a lot of directors and producers are like, “Well, he’s that guy and it’s hard to see past that. It’s too distracting.” At the same time, it’s great to have something like that. I know actors who would kill for that. You are remembered for something—always.

Do you still know the choreography to your dance scene?

It was all improv—off the cuff. The dance wasn’t something I poured over or tried to perfect every little nuance. It sounds cheesy, but to do the Napoleon dance, all you have to do is dance from your heart. It’s less about dancing and more about the randomness of it.

Have you ever tried to do the dance again in public?

I tried to redo the dance, kind of, at my [10-year-old] daughter’s father-daughter dance at school earlier this year. I felt like a fool. I was trying to remember all these moves I came up with on the fly. Everyone was getting into it. She had fun—at least I hope so.

Thirteen years later, where do you think Napoleon would be? What’s his job? Is he married with kids?

He wouldn’t be married, but he would have one or two kids. He’d be single-dadding it because it didn’t work out. He’d be working in the food services industry and maybe still going to school to get his degree in marine biology. He would want to train sea lions. He’s into certain animals like that. Llamas, not so much.

Efren Ramirez – Napoleon Dynamite (TV series)

January 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

It’s been 7½ years since “Napoleon Dynamite” became a cult classic when it hit theaters in August 2004. Now, Napoleon, Pedro, Kip, Uncle Rico and the rest of the original characters are back for a brand new adventure in small-town Idaho– and this time they’re cartoons!

The new animated series “Napoleon Dynamite” joined Fox’s Sunday night lineup for the first time last weekend. During an interview with me, actor Efren Ramirez, best know for his role as Napoleon Dynamite’s sidekick Pedro Sanchez, talked about reprising his role as the sweet-hearted transfer student from Mexico and how revisiting a character like Pedro will be good for him.

“Napoleon Dynamite” airs Sundays on Fox at 7:30 p.m.

“Napoleon Dynamite” has returned but in animated form? What’s going on?

(Laughs) Yeah, Jared [Hess], who directed “Napoleon Dynamite,” always wanted to do something else with the film. The studio thought of doing a sequel or a prequel. I think Jared also had the idea to make it into a cartoon. They definitely wanted to create something that was as great as the first. You want to do something bigger and better without destroying the characters or the story. There are so many fans out there that are so excited that “Napoleon Dynamite” is coming back.

Not only that, but the entire original cast is back to voice their characters, right?

Yeah, I’m really excited they got the original cast. The ensemble cast in “Napoleon Dynamite” really got close to each other. We all became good friends, so to be able to be on set with them again is like working with family. It really gives us the opportunity to participate even more in the creative process.

What did you think of Pedro when you saw him in animated form for the first time?

(Laughs) Well, my head doesn’t look like a football and it does look kind of goofy, but that’s fine. I just kept thinking, “This is really sweet!” Seeing Pedro in cartoon form is still really surreal. I’m really excited about the show and can’t wait to do more episodes.

“Napoleon Dynamite” is joining heavy hitters like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. Is there any pressure?

(Laughs) Well, on a grand scale, I think each show is really different even though they are all animations. They each are in their own genre. To be a part of that is just amazing. I hope we can dominate like those show have done – for at least 50 years or as long as I’m alive!

The last time I interviewed you, you said it was important for you to distance yourself from your role as Pedro so directors wouldn’t automatically think of you as “that guy from ‘Napoleon Dynamite.'” Do you think reprising your role might take you in the wrong direction as an actor?

There is a great divide when you get into this business. You can work on things that are artsy and build on story and character or you can do things that are popular and just keep playing the same thing. But let’s look at this with perspective: Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin played one specific character in all their films and they were very funny. When I get roles like Pedro I think about the premise of the story and where can I take the character. If it’s heartfelt, then people are going to want to know the story and the character. I still want to be an actor that can do lots of different things. I’ve been doing that ever since “Napoleon Dynamite” came out.

What can we anticipate from an animated version of Pedro?

Well, we get to see more and explore more with Pedro and the rest of the characters. You also get to see more of the world they live in. In an animated series things can blow up and people can die, but they’ll be back the next week.

Have you ever played tetherball against Jon Heder? Who won?

(Laughs) No, I haven’t, but I’m sure he’d probably win because I’ve heard he has some mad skills.

What is the coolest piece of “Napoleon Dynamite” memorabilia you own?

I have this “Napoleon Dynamite” poster from the U.K. that is very different. I also have the two original “Vote for Pedro” t-shirts from the movie. I hope to give them to my kids one day if that day ever comes.