Napoleon Dynamite Movie Poster

Trivia for Napoleon Dynamite

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  • When Kip is on the computer at the beginning of the film, all of the words he is saying were improvised by Aaron Ruell. If listened to closely, one can hear him singing a little bit right as Grandma comes in.
  • The scene of the farmer shooting the cow in front of the school bus full of children is a true anecdote from director Jared Hess' childhood.
  • Idaho unanimously passed a bill praising Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess for making the film, citing amongst their reasons that the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention. Tater tots figuring prominently in the film had promoted Idaho's most famous export.
  • Behind-the-scenes at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight engaged in a bidding war with Warner Independent Pictures over the distribution rights to this movie, until Fox Searchlight put in a last-minute bid of over $3 million, and won. They would later join forces with Paramount Pictures and MTV Films to distribute the film, a mere 17 days before its release.
  • Jon Heder helped to make the boondoggle keychains between scenes.
  • The scene where Uncle Rico hits Napoleon in the face took four takes.
  • In real life, the llama's name is Dolly and she belongs to director/co-writer Jared Hess' mother.
  • The movie was edited in producer Jeremy Coon's apartment using a $6,000 Macintosh with Final Cut Pro.
  • The name "Napoleon Dynamite" is a pseudonym used by Elvis Costello for his 1986 album, "Blood and Chocolate." Executive producer Jeremy Coon had stated that the similarity is a coincidence and that the producers were unaware of Costello's usage of the name until the film was in production.
  • Two houses were used for the filming of Napoleon's house, one for outdoor shots and one for indoor shots.
  • The "liger" is a real animal, created when a male lion mates with a female tiger. It does not, however, have "skills in magic," as Napoleon claims.
  • Jon Heder credited Tina Majorino (Deb) with helping to choreograph the dance scene. He also states that some of the dance moves were "borrowed" from Michael Jackson, Backstreet Boys, John Travolta, and Soul Train (1971), as well as some of his own moves.
  • Deb's photo studio is actually the basement of the interior version of Napoleon Dynamite's house.
  • The film was shot in 22 days.
  • Having the food plates spell out names in the opening credits was actor Aaron Ruell (Kip)'s idea. The rest of the sequence was designed and executed by Pablo Ferro.
  • Aaron Ruell (Kip) had braces put on his teeth for this role. Two dentists are thanked in the credits.
  • Jon Heder's big dance scene at the end was the last scene scheduled, but film ran out while shooting it. The sequence was edited together from less than ten minutes of his dancing.
  • The movie featured one of the longest credited cast lists in movie history; all 181 student extras' names are listed in the closing credits.
  • Every dish shown during the opening credits is eaten by a character later in the movie. The dishes presented in the opening credits were the work of the three people who present them.
  • Uncle Rico's girlfriend, who rides up to him on her bicycle at the end of the film, is Aaron Ruell's (Kip) wife in real life.
  • In the second cafeteria scene, when Napoleon and Pedro discuss prospective dance dates, Napolean is wearing a Ricks College t-shirt. Ricks College was a junior college in Idaho that maintained close association with Brigham Young University up until 2000, when Ricks was formally named an official satellite of BYU, henceforth BYU-Idaho. Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess, the film's co-writers, both attended BYU.
  • Jon Heder was paid $1,000 to play Napoleon Dynamite. The movie grossed over $40,000,000 in the United States.
  • Jon Heder permed his hair for the film.
  • Jon Heder drew all of the drawings in the movie except the unicorn.
  • For Napoleon's dance routine, director Jared Hess had Jon Heder improvise and dance to three different songs. Hess then took the "best" moves from each song and put them in one routine, using one song.
  • In a deleted scene, it is shown that Napoleon gets a scratch ticket and won $10, which originally was shown in Peluca (2003). That was what made it so he could afford the $12 suit for the dance, but not even the price was implied in the movie.
  • Despite playing high school students, Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez were, respectively, 26 and 31 when this movie was made.
  • In Rex's "dojo" near the beginning of the movie, the words "I shall respect Rex, I shall never misuse Rex-Kwon-Do, I shall be a champion of Freedom and Justice" are seen above the large mirror Rex stands in front of.
  • The opening title sequence was partially re-shot, due to some of the executives at Fox Searchlight not liking the look of the actor's hands who placed the food into the shot. They flew out a hand model to reshoot some of the shots with the director.
  • In 2007 a video game based off of the movie was released for the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable consoles.
  • A "Napoleon Dynamite" festival was held every year from 2004 to 2008 in Preston, Idaho, the city where the movie was filmed. The festival had contests that included a tater-tot eating contest, football-throwing, look-a-likes, and other types of competition based on scenes from the movie.
  • The film is based on a short film Jared Hess made in 2002 with Jon Heder. Almost everything from the short made it into the feature film. For instance, there is a scene in the feature film where Napoleon and Pedro are at a state fair appraising cows or tasting milk. In the short, there is only a line of spoken dialogue that mentions the taste-testing of milk.
  • At the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, Jon Heder reprised his role as Napoleon Dynamite during the parody of Batman Begins (2005).
  • The odd items and foods used in the opening credits: * A plate of tater tots * A plate with a burrito and rice * A plate with sliced hard-boiled eggs * A "U.F.O. Abduction Insurance" card * A Preston High student ID card * A plate with a steak (au jus) * A plate of nachos * A foil tray with a corn dog, peach slices and peas * A banana and peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a paper bag * A homemade foil-covered ninja star * The checkout card for a library book titled "Bigfoot and Me" * The checkout card for a library book titled "Science and Centaurs" * The carton for a LemonHeads-like candy * A tube of Chap Stick * A drawing of a warrior holding a flag * A drawing of a female centaur fighting an eagle * A binder pocket containing 3 toy cars and a drawing of a spaceship * A protractor, eraser and three pencils * A plate with a burger and fries
  • Both Jon Heder (Napoleon) and Efren Ramirez (Pedro), who play the lead characters in the movie, have an identical twin in real life.
  • Jack Black almost played Rex. He would later star in director Jared Hess' next film, Nacho Libre (2006).
  • Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) was actually not a vegetarian, despite the claims. Whenever he is wiping his mouth, he is spitting out the steak because he just does not eat red meat in real life.
  • The song playing in the low rider is So Ruff by Zapp and Roger.
  • Whenever Deb is in the cafeteria, she is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In real life, Tina Majorino, who plays Deb, has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts.
  • Napoleon Dynamite (2004) is one of the all-time favorite movies of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) director Jonathan Demme. He was one of the Hollywood celebrities who was interviewed for a book called "You Gotta See This." In the book, he said that the movie did something new on the screen and it moved and delighted him.
  • Jon Gries nearly quit acting, planning on dedicating himself to writing, when a casting director he knew needed him to play a role that another actor dropped out of in The Big Empty (2003). Gries filmed the role, and when his scenes were being edited together, filmmakers Jared Hess and Jeremy Coons were casting for Napoleon Dynamite (2004) in the same office and got a look at Gries' work, prompting them to offer him the role of Uncle Rico. Gries said that his manager was unsure of the role as the filmmakers were not known, but Gries read the script anyway and said by page fifteen, he was happy to play the role.
  • In the movie, Kip plays a 32-year-old grown-up and Napoleon plays a teenager in high school. In real life, Aaron Ruell (Kip) is only one year older than John Heder (Napoleon).
  • In the sand dunes scene, Grandma's shirt says, "My husband and I divorced for religious reasons. He thought he was God."
  • The scene in the after credits where Napoleon rides up on a horse is inspired by the Australian classic film 'The Man From Snowy River' (1982) even the music for this sequence is a direct reference to the film's score by Bruce Rowland.
  • Napoleon's school bus number is 97-1. This means it was the first bus purchased by the school district in 1997.
  • Napoleon dances to Canned Heat by Jamiroquai
  • Napoleon is wearing a yellow Ricks College T-shirt. Ricks was the name of the junior college in Rexburg, Idaho. In 2001, it transitioned into a four-year school, now known as BYU Idaho.
  • Preston Idaho, where the movie was shot, is nearly 90% members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) which is one of the reasons you don't see people drinking or hear any swearing from the characters.
  • Napoleon's student ID shown in the opening credits clearly established that the film takes place in 2004. However fashion, technology and pop culture are all from the 80s and 90s. Jarad Hess was once asked when the movie takes place and his response was simply "Idaho."
  • Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Jared Hess, and most of the production staff are all Mormons. Plus the town of Preston is over 90% Mormon. Nor does the movie have any foul language, alcohol, or sexual jokes. Despite all this there is not a single reference to Mormonism in the entire movie. Nor is there any explanation as to what happened to Kip and Napoleon's parents, and the T-shirt grandma is wearing strongly implies that she's been divorced.
  • Sandy Martin Who plays Napoleon and Kip's grandmother is only 28 and 27 years older than actors John Heder her and Aaron Ruell.


  • Due to the film's surprise success at festivals and in its limited release, Fox Searchlight re-edited the film to add a five-minute epilogue at the end. This epilogue, which was filmed after the initial theatrical run, features a surprise "wedding scene" that cost about half of what the entire feature cost to make.
  • Jon Heder and Diedrich Bader later starred in Surf's Up (2007) and Surf's Up 2: WaveMania (2017).
  • Tina Majorino had a life-threatening peanut allergy. When Deb is eating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunch, it is actually a sandwich with a jelly spread.
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