NAPOLEON DYNAMITE - Q&A with actor JON HEDER
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
You regarded this as a role of a lifetime, why?
Well it is my first full length feature film and it is such a great character that I might forever be known as Napoleon Dynamite, I might never be able to top it.
The body language of your character was so outrageously accurate, how did you do it?
Well I drew a lot of inspiration from my younger brothers and I had to realise that Napoleon physically has no balance, is horrible at sports, is socially awkward and runs like an idiot.
Who decided that the wave hairstyle in the film shouldn't become permanent for you?
It was for a while, I liked playing with it after PELUCA, which is a short film we did initially, so we permed it again and I looked like a lion.
What was it like when you went out with the hair?
I never really went out, I washed it very little as we didn't want to lose the look. I hardly ever walked out in the outfit.
Did you exist in the sort of clique that Napoleon exists in the film when you were in High school?
I was a geek not a sports jock. I have a twin brother, I was in between but the difference was that I knew what I was, Napoleon doesn't have a clue.
Any hopes of a franchise?
He easily has potential and I think that fans wanna see more. When we made it we just hoped it would be bought someday, so as for a franchise we will just have to wait and see, but I would not mind playing Napoleon again.
Considering how things are constantly changing maybe you should do it sooner rather than later?
Idaho won't change anytime soon, but I have got to do it before I get fat.
Is the scene where the cow is shot in a field in front of a bus full of children based on something that actually happened?
Yes. It is some farmer who took his cow out into a field and a school bus just happened to be passing by when he decided to shoot it.
Why is America so enamored with the nerd?
People are sick of the emphasis on being pretty and I think celebrating the nerd liberates young people and it was very liberating for me.
What was it like for you personally when you first tried to ask a girl out on a date?
It was very awkward I sent her a pine cone. At dances I always wanted to ask girls to dance but I was too scared.
Is your next film going to be very different?
I have had some offers I still want to do more comedy but some drama would be good as well.
Who inspires or inspired you from a comedy point of view?
I love Jim Carrey, Dana Carvey, Jack Black and THE SIMPSONS.
Who would you play in THE SIMPSONS?
The dorky kid with the glasses.
Were you star struck at the premiere and what did you think of the audience reaction to the film?
Well I met some famous people who liked the film and it was cool. Initially I think that most young people loved it but the older people took some time to get the humor. I hear that there are now steak throwing contests thanks to the scene where I get one right in the face.
Talking about that scene how painful was it?
It was hard, we did a couple of takes and one of them hit me in the armpit so Jon said that it would be easier for him to get it right if he threw it hard and he was right but it hurt real bad.
Was it hard to stay in character?
The Rex Kwan Doe scene was hard for me to keep a straight face and the Llama feeding scene was hilarious for me.
How was the dance scene done?
It was all improvisation, the director Jared knows that I like to dance so he wrote it into the script but then I just rolled with it.
Talking about research did you research the Loch Ness monster?
Jared wrote some of the stuff then I just ad-libbed.
How was the Sundance Festival?
It was insane, but also really cool because that was our aim to get it seen, meet some agents and so on. At the first screening people went nuts!
Did you rub shoulders with a lot of stars?
I met a lot of agents but I did see a lot of stars.
Was it an emotional experience to get such a good response for your hard work?
It was overwhelming, very cool and it opened up a door to so many potential opportunities.
Was it odd working with a veteran like Tina Majorino?
It was cool, she has had a lot of experience from films like WATERWORLD and it was the same with Jon Gries he has been around for a while as well.
What was the scene with hens like?
It was nasty, it all really smelly bad and I couldn't eat chicken for a while it was gross and cool at the same time.
So are you an expert milk taster now and what does the FFA stand for?
The Future Farmers of America and they go milk tasting instead of camping. I am not an expert yet.
Were you pushed into acting?
I was always interested in acting but I wanted to do something big.
The scene in the movie where you are at home on the phone to Pedro the phone you use has an obscenely long phone cord, how did you come up with that?
That was very funny for all of us. Most of it was improvised. I just think that Napoleon is the kind of guy who keeps his conversations private so he keeps walking from room to room to keep it private and the cord is so long that it makes this possible.
Who do you think it will appeal to?
I think that the 18 to 30 year-olds bracket should dig it as there are a lot of references to the eighties and this is not your average teenage movie. Still it has exploded with 12 to 13 year-olds and now most teenagers who initially didn't get it are getting it.
The body language did it perhaps bother you that it may make him look retarded?
No I think that he is only socially retarded and generally very awkward and this affects his actions.
There is a scene that was cut out that involves a wedding between two characters in the film, what was that all about?
I can't say, but it was all Fox's idea. It was a final five minutes that we decided to throw in. It will be on the DVD so you'll just have to wait to see it.