Biographic by Steve McGarry for October 09, 2005
John Heder Made by a group of college friends on a shoestring budget, the offbeat comedy "Napolean Dynamite" became a pop culture phenomenon and cult classic when it was released in 2009. The gangly, dorky hero of the film also set an erstwhile animation student on the road to movie stardom... Jon Heder was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 26, 1997, and raised in Salem, Oregon, he was studying animation at Utah's Bringham Young University, along with his identical twin, Dan, when he met aspiring filmmaker, Jared Hess, who cast Jon in his 2003 award-winning short film "Peluca" for the role of the gawky high schooler Seth, Jon permed his hair and donned large spectacles. The film's success enabled Jess and his co-creator wife, Jerusha, to raise the $200,000 funding for a full length movie. Heder's "Peluca" character morphed into the title character of "Napoleon Dynamite" The gentle, quirky comedy was a sensational at the Sundance film festival and, following a bidding frenzy, was picked up for major distribution. It went on to earn over $50 million at the box office, generating a fervent passion among its predominantly young fan base, who flocked to see it time and time again, learning the movie's catchphrases by heart. "Napoleon Dynamite" garnered more than a dozen Teen Choice nominations and earned Jon and MTV movie awards, including one for the movie's inspirational Dance sequence, a scene that he completely ad-libbed! He was quickly snapped up for a number of major Hollywood projects, including "Just like Heaven" with Reese Witherspoon, "The Benchwarmers" for Adam Sandler's production company and a remake of "School for Scoundrels" with Billy Bob Thornton.