Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
A decade has passed since the world was introduced to Napoleon Dynamite. Co-written and directed by Jared Hess, the small indie took off after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. It ended up being one of the most profitable films of 2004. It starred a cast of mostly unknowns in a quirky and awkward but hilarious and quotable PG-rated tale of high school struggles. At the center was one of the most unique characters in recent cinematic history. Played by Jon Heder, Napoleon Dynamite was a persona no one had seen before and few would soon forget.
Now the film is celebrating its 10th anniversary. On June 9, a statue dedicated to the film was erected on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles, CA (seen above), and that day the cast and crew attended a special 10th anniversary screening of the film presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This was no normal screening though. Heder, Hess and host Will Forte were given microphones and did a live commentary during the film, offering up a ton of cool pieces of trivia about the production.
Below, read 20 things we learned about Napoleon Dynamite from the 10th anniversary screening.
Thanks to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the great event and screening photos. Here are the cool things we learned:
1. The first thing filmed was Napoleon walking around the thrift store and finding the Sai and dance tape. It remained one of Jon’s favorite things they shot the whole time.
2. The shoot took 22 days.
3. When Napoleon Dynamite premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, it didn’t have credits. The now-famous food credits were shot at the home of DP Munn Powell, and Aaron Ruell, who played Kip, designed each piece. After Fox Searchlight bought the film, an executive at the company didn’t like Jon Heder’s hands so they had to hire a hand model for some of the shots.
4. The street in Preston, Idaho where Napoleon’s house was filmed was later immortalized as “Napoleon Dynamite Lane.” Fans take photos there daily.
5. Multiple super-weird scenes in the film happened in real life to Jared Hess. First, his younger brother actually called him from school to ask for his chap stick.
6. Hess drove Pedro’s Sledgehammer bike to and from set every day.
7. Jon Heder did almost all of the drawings in the movie himself, except the unicorns in the first school scene. The one of Trisha took the longest – about 30 minutes.
8. The llama in the film was actually owned by Hess’ mom. It died in recent years of West Nile disease.
9. “Tina, you fat lard, come get some DINNER!” is the number one quote people say to Jon Heder
10. Another of the real-life experiences of Jared Hess that ended up in the film was when his family had a sick cow and called a neighbor to kill it. Which he did, in front of a school bus.
11. When Jared Hess was younger, he moved to a new school and all the clubs were full except one. The Sign Language Club, just like the one Napoleon is in in the movie.
12. Jon Gries, who played Uncle Rico, was a vegan so the fact he had to eat so much steak was really difficult for him.
13. Uncle Rico really hit Napoleon in the face with the football when he was coming home on his bike. It hit so hard that Heder had to film the rest of the movie with two black eyes. You can see them in multiple scenes.
14. Who knew? Ligers actually are real and the idea to put one in the movie came from a real life event where some escaped in Idaho. Read about it here.
15. In real life, Aaron Ruell’s brother bought a time machine on the internet for $800. Apparently, it looked much worse than the one Kip and Uncle Rico buy in the movie. It also had crystals.
16. You can see a real life skunk enter the chicken coop when Napoleon and his colleagues eat lunch during his one day of work.
17. Jon Heder didn’t keep much memorabilia from the set, but he has the “Pegasus Crossing” sign proudly displayed in his house.
18. When it came time to film Napoleon’s final dance number, the entire production only had 10 minutes of film left. That gave them three takes. The finale is a blend of those three.
19. In the post-credits scene (paid for by Searchlight after they acquired the film), Lafawnduh’s family was played by actresses Shondrella Avery‘s actual family.
20. The last thing filmed was the one shot of Pedro shaving his head. (Note: How this tied in with point 18 was unclear. Maybe a short end or very end of that reel.)
The Napoleon Dynamite 10th anniversary Blu-ray is on sale now.
Photo Credit: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, plus Fox Searchlight and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment