Jon Heder Biography


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Birth Name: Jon Heder
Born: 10/26/1977
Birth Place: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA


Born in Fort Collins, CO on Oct. 26, 1977, Jonathan Joseph Heder was reared in Salem, OR since age two. Raised in a Mormon household that fostered an innocent and wholesome outlook on life, Heder attended Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City. There, he met future director Jared Hess and future producer Jeremy Coon, whom he would later work with on "Napoleon Dynamite." Though Heder started off in BYU's film program, he later switched to computer animation, eventually earning his BFA in 1999. In 2003, his old friend Hess began casting his short film, "Peluca" (2003), a nine-minute comedy about a geeky outcast named Seth who is obsessed with ninja books, unicorns and fanny packs. Frustrated by the lack of talent passing through his casting office, Hess remembered a class skit Heder had performed at BYU and decided the aspiring young animator would be perfect for the part. Based on director Hess' own experiences while growing up in Preston, ID, "Peluca" was shot over a period of two days on grainy black-and-white film stock. Surprisingly, the short became a cult hit and was lauded at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival. Audience response to "Peluca" was so overwhelming that Hess subsequently decided to write a feature-length version. Though the director would rename the character, he retained Heder in the role.

With $400,000 in the production coffers, thanks to "Peluca," Hess returned to Preston to film "Napoleon Dynamite," a comedy that followed a bespectacled, afro-sporting social reject partial to wearing moon boots and drawing pictures of "ligers." Among Napoleon's other idiosyncrasies were feeding ham to the family's pet llama, building an Internet-bought time machine, drinking raw eggs, and dancing freestyle to Jamiroquai. Despite his quirks, however, Napoleon would reveal his inner goodness with his willingness to help his new pal, Pedro, in his bid to become class president. A strangely heartwarming film about friendship and being true to oneself, "Napoleon Dynamite" roused audiences at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was bought for a reported $3.5 million by Fox Searchlight Pictures. The movie went on to earn over $44 million at the box office and assured Hess and Heder future employment prospects.

After the success of "Napoleon Dynamite," Heder moved to Los Angeles and began fielding offers for other films. Out of respect for his upbringing, however, the actor had strict caveats about the types of characters he would play: no drinking, drugs, sex or profanity would be considered. Clearly unconcerned about being typecast, Heder immediately signed on to supporting roles in a few features. In the supernatural romantic comedy "Just Like Heaven" (2005), starring Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon, Heder played the owner of a New Age bookshop. Though the role was initially meant to be much smaller, positive responses from test audiences for Heder's character prompted filmmakers to beef up his role.

Next came two projects in rapid succession. The first was "Monster House" (2005), an animated tale about three kids who think their neighbor's house is a monster, followed by "The Benchwarmers" (2005), a baseball comedy that starred David Spade and Rob Schneider. Next up for Heder was "School for Scoundrels" (2006), director Todd Phillips' rather predictable comedy about an anxiety-ridden meter maid (Heder) who enrolls in a confidence-building seminar run by the suave, but underhanded Mr. P (Billy Bob Thornton). Heder fared better in his next project, the competitive ice-skating farce, "Blades of Glory" (2007). In it, Heder and co-star Will Ferrell played two rival ice skaters who exploit a loophole that allows them to compete as a pair. A behemoth hit at the box office, "Blades of Glory" would eventually skate off with a domestic take of $92.5 million.

The following year, Heder played a thirty-something slacker living at home in "Mama's Boy" (2007). Cast as the son of an angelic Diane Keaton, Heder finds his comfy existence threatened when she falls in love with a self-help guru played by Jeff Daniels. That same year, Heder also signed on to another animated feature, supplying his voice talents to "Surf's Up!" (2007), a mockumentary about penguins who may have actually invented surfing. After producing and starring in the horror web series "Woke Up Dead" (2009), Heder was a street magician and potential suitor for Kristen Bell in the ill-received romantic comedy "When in Rome" (2010). Meanwhile, he reprised the role that made him famous - if only in voice - for the animated series "Napoleon Dynamite" (Fox, 2012- ), which featured a return for the entire original cast of the movie.




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