That Time I Met Napoleon Dynamite


When I moved to LA seven years ago, it was inevitable that I'd run into a celebrity or two. Whether it was at a sporting event, film screening, or by sheer happenstance, I have seen a handful of famous faces in the flesh.

I've brushed shoulders with Will Forte, ordered a footlong next to Bryan Cranston, chilled inside Kevin Wu's apartment, and even opened a door for a gracious George Lucas.

There was that time Jonah Hill sat two seats away from me in a theater, that time Jack Black was within bear-hugging distance, and that time Jon Heder walked into a small room I just so happened to be in.

Oh, you don't know who Jon Heder is? You probably do, just by his other name:

Napoleon Dynamite

Let me first say that I don't go coo coo for Cocoa Puffs (it's all about Cinnamon Toast Crunch, baby!!). Oh right, back to the topic of this blog post — I also don't go crazy at the sight of celebrities.

I admire some of them, am in awe at a few of them, and idolize maybe two or three of them... but I'll never brake my tires to a screeching halt just to catch a glimpse of one walking down the street. 

However, for some weird reason, when I saw Heder... I was STARSTRUCK.

Come to think of it, the reason wasn't all that weird after all, for I was borderline OBSESSED with the cult indie film during one phase of my life. I have probably watched the movie 22 times and attempted his infamous dance routine even MORE times. If you don't know what I'm talking about (or just want a refresher) click that lil' white triangle below:

OH-KAY YEAH, I know... it's nothing special compared to anything by the JABBAWOCKEEZ, but in the context of the story, that dance routine was a pretty bad-ass performance.

When I met Heder, I was interning at an animation studio and was on my lunch break with my supervisor. We were just chillin' inside a quiet, grungy area of the lot, and in walked Heder and his agent.

Turned out they were scouting studios that could help green-light his animated TV show, which was being based off his movie. Our interaction only lasted about 5 minutes and consisted of a simple handshake. I kept it professional throughout the entire time, fighting the urge to ask him where Pedro was or if Tina had been eating her food. I was proud of myself for "keeping it together".

Love it or hate it, Napoleon Dynamite is a memorable film. Not only did the film somehow further strengthen my love for tater tots, but I also resonated with the story on several levels since it portrays the underdog role. Somehow in the end, everything worked out for most of the characters, and the movie helped me believe that good things ultimately happen to those who persist.