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|01-11-2012, 03:51 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 01, 2008
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Why Did Jon Heder Vanish after "Napoleon Dynamite" - He Explains his Mormon Beliefs
Jon Heder on Napoleon Dynamite, Avoiding Raunchy Roles, and Fellow Mormon Mitt Romney
Itís been seven years between the movie Napoleon Dynamite and FOXís new animated series e, and the original movie isnít even streaming on Netflix Instant.
ďItís not?Ē asked the once and future Napoleon, Jon Heder, before mock-expunging any self-doubt: ďWhatever, dude. Everybody owns it already.Ē
We talked to Heder about revisiting the role, how being Mormon has held him back from being a raunchy comedy star, and his feelings about Mitt Romney.
How many years has the cartoon been in development?
I guess you could say seven years, since the movie was made. But it really was probably over a year since I first got the call. I think it was FOX that came to Jared [Hess, Napoleon Dynamiteís director] first, and said, ďI think itís time. What do you think about doing an animated series?Ē
And Jared was onboard, and then they came to me, and of course I was onboard.
So this was a no-brainer for you?
Way back when the movie came out, there was talk about a possible sequel. But Jared was busy, so FOX came to me and put it out there:
ďWould you be willing to do a sequel with another director?Ē And I said that made no sense. It was his story, so to pawn it off on some guy we donít know Ö
I went to college with Jared, we invented the character for a school project at BYU. It was just too weird of a situation. I couldnít do Napoleon without Jared. But now, weíre able to give fans what theyíve wanted for a long time.
This was such a defining role for you. Was there ever a point in your life when you resented him a little bit?
No. I never resented him. I loved the character from day one. I get asked that a lot: ďOh, I guess youíre over it.Ē And I was like yeah, I want to do other things. But I definitely feel like being so close to a character and being able to help create that character and bring him to life, thereís just Ö
It really seemed to affect ó I donít want to say ďtouch," in a way thatís too sentimental ó but it really affected a lot of people. It has a big fan base. And that was such a big thing to me: I always dreamed of being in the entertainment business and entertaining people.
I look at other instances in the past at other actors who have portrayed certain characters, and again of course I want to continue to try to do other things, but I know that that may be the role that I become known for. And hopefully I will expand my skills [snickers at his own Napoleon joke] and my horizons in the acting and entertainment field, but thereís no bitterness towards the character.
If it was ďIím just trying to get my foot in the door, Iím just going to take a paycheck and play a goofy character in this movieĒ ó completely different story. But no! I was completely onboard; this was the kind of film that I wouldíve made. I loved it.
In real life, youíre a nice guy who never swears.
Well, youíve never seen me play video games.
But I have played Hacky Sack with you ó on the set of Benchwarmers, when I was doing a story on Nick Swarsdon.
You complained about me ďself-serving,Ē but you really are a sweet guy who doesnít swear. Honestly, you seem to have a lot in common with Napoleon.
Ha-ha. Thatís funny. Absolutely. Itís true. It wasnít based on me, but when Jared brought me the script, I read it and I was immediately like, ďYeah.Ē
Jared and I come from very similar backgrounds. Both of us being LDS and having been raised in big families with lots of brothers. We grew up catching crawdads and picking each otherís butts with samurai swords. I was like, ďYeah, I get it, he knows my younger brothers.Ē And I know his younger brothers.
Since 2001, weíve never had any major disagreements about the character.
You do close your mouth a lot more in real life. Why did you make Napoleon such a mouth breather?
As soon as we realized this is a character whoís so unapologetically clueless Ö heís not so much a dweeb, but he seriously lives in his own world. Some kids live in their own bubble. They like the world, they like what the world produces; they like ninja swords, and they like Labyrinth and Star Wars. They like cool things, but their world is just their small little family bubble. And they donít step outside much.
And to me, it felt like exaggerating the traits of my younger brothers and myself. I remember them as really nasally, like they all have some allergies or something. I just remember mouth breathing a lot when I was a kid.
So I thought, What would be an unattractive feature that would be funny that a kid would have no idea what he was doing?
It kind of suggests a clinical lack of self-awareness, like Aspergerís or something.
Exactly. Without being medically diagnosed. And itís all heightened and exaggerated by living in a small town. I didnít grow up in a super-small town. It wasnít metropolitan, but there was some connection to the rest of the world.
But Kretz, Idaho, you had access to the local video rental shop and thatís it. They didnít really watch MTV. This was grandmaís house. He just had a VHS player. Itís the most like a postapocalyptic scenario. Itís like a Wall-E! Theyíre running around this world full of leftovers and junk with nobody to explain or put him into perspective.
Youíve had success, but you really havenít been able to match the success of Napoleon Dynamite. Why do you think you didnít become like another Jonah Hill or something?
Because I was picky. And I still am. I enjoy success and I certainly want the projects I did to do well. But I realized how happy I am trying to be somewhat normal without becoming huge. And not so much normal, but grounded, down-to-earth.
I grew up in a family where my dad is a family doctor. And I didnít want to do that, but I wanted a life like he had, which is a somewhat quiet, humble existence. Now, Blades of Glory is unlike anything my dad has done. [Laughs.]
But I did get a lot of offers, especially back then, of stuff that Iím not comfortable with. A lot of the projects just seemed too raunchy. Quite honestly, a lot of it was that: the raunch factor. Iíve never been interested in doing those kinds of projects.
Is being a Mormon why you avoid raunchy material?
Absolutely it comes from how I was raised. Itís just kind of who I am. These are the standards I live by and whatever comes my way in the future, whether filmmaking or animation or whatever, Iím going to do my best to live by those standards.
This was a huge year for Mormonism: Jimmer and The Book of Mormon swept the Tonys, and now you have Mitt Romney and Napoleon Dynamite is back.
Are you proud of your people?
Iím always proud of my people. But I donít watch much sports. Sports and politics are the two things that Iím not huge into. I guess I follow politics more than sports.
But Iím proud of those guys for upholding the parts of American culture that Iím not into.
Is Mitt Romney your guy? Are you rooting for him?
Yeah, sure Iím rooting for him. Again Iím still taking my time in looking at all the people. Obviously thereís the Mormon connection and yeah, good for him.
But looking at all the candidates, there are certain stances that he takes that I donít agree with. But you canít be 100 percent with any one person.
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