Don’t worry about Jon Heder, the lovable nerd from “Napoleon Dynamite.” He’s doing just fine, thank you very much.
Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
The actor will be at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden Thursday for “Napoleon Dynamite: A Conversation with Jon Heder.” The evening will feature a screening of the film, followed by a lively discussion with the star of the show.
Heder’s acting career exploded in 2004 with the release of “Napoleon Dynamite,” the quirky comedy about an awkward teen growing up in Preston, Idaho. Although he’s appeared in a number of other movies since then — most notably “Blades of Glory” with Will Ferrell and “The Benchwarmers” with Rob Schneider and David Spade — for the most part Heder spent much of his career below the radar of Hollywood’s star machine.
Indeed, one could argue that first role as the moon-boots-wearing kid with the sweet ninja tetherball kicks and even sweeter dance moves was the pinnacle of Heder’s commercial success.
And Heder’s perfectly OK with that.
“Truly, I see it as I’ve been able to be me without really compromising my own standards and my moral code that I live by,” he told the Standard-Examiner via phone on Tuesday. “I feel I’ve been able to, for lack of a better word, stay true to who I really am.”
Heder says he certainly sees himself as an actor, but not the kind who’s going to change everything he’s doing just to get a role. He lives a relatively normal life with his wife and four children — ages 2 to 11 — in Santa Clarita, California, and is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I try to put the more important things first — family, religion, life and friends,” Heder said. “I’m trying to put that ‘normal’ life first, and ahead, and then having fun with the career second.”
Heder doesn’t know if he ever even wanted that other life. Oh, he’s had the occasional thought that it would be fun to do this or that, and he confesses hasn’t always been able to do everything he wanted to do. But all-in-all, Heder is happy he didn’t try to take the movie-star route.
“I just never envisioned myself like that, it was never in my blood or true desire,” he said. “I want to do things creatively, for sure. But to be a big star, I just never envisioned that.”
These days, Heder continues to develop some of his own projects and go after other things that interest him. But beyond that, he says he’s fortunate to have the luxury of spending “a lot of time” with his wife and kids.
“I continue to work and do movies still, and I do a lot of voice work, too,” he said. “But I kind of like full-force hanging out with the family, more than anything else. It’s been fun.”
The relatively quiet life has another advantage, too.
“If I shot for (stardom), I would not have the kind of life that I do,” he said. “I don’t get completely bombarded when I got to the airport. I don’t have paparazzi following me around. My romances and everything I do aren’t thrown into the press and tabloids. I’m a pretty private person.”
What do Heder’s kids think of their famous dad and his Napoleon Dynamite character? Not much, according to Heder.
His 11-year-old daughter has seen the film, but Heder doesn’t think she’s old enough to fully appreciate the humor in it.
“She’s used to me going around whenever we’re out and about and people stopping us and getting pictures — she’ll even volunteer to take the picture,” he said. “But she’s more, like, ‘I’ve got my own things to watch, Dad, and watching you is more like watching a home video.”
This year marks the 15th anniversary of “Napoleon Dynamite” taking the Sundance Film Festival — and then the world — by storm. In the last year or so Heder and the other cast/crew members have been doing more of these screening/Q&A events.
“It feels like the 15-year anniversary is an opportunity to say, ‘Let’s go out and connect with the fans,’” Heder said. “I get to wax more poetic at these things, meaning I goof off even more. It’s a great time.”
It’s also given Heder the opportunity to see a lot more of the old cast and crew, which he describes as “awesome — they’re like family to me.”
Thursday’s “Napoleon Dynamite: A Conversation with Jon Heder” is presented by Wiseguys Comedy. Tickets are $35, with a limited number of VIP tickets for $99.50. The latter includes premium seating and a meet-and-greet with Heder before the show.
“We’ve been doing a number of these,” Heder said. “It’s always so much fun. They screen the movie, and people come and see it for the umpteenth time. It’s a chance to see me in person, what I’m really like. … And it’s been 15 years now, so we have some of the same fans and we have some new fans. There’s a new generation of kids whose parents are introducing them to ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’”