‘Napoleon Dynamite‘ was the kind of success that shot unknown actors to stardom overnight. The unique, quirky film broke boundaries, entered pop culture, and introduced us to the idiosyncratic world of two characters: Napoleon Dynamite, portrayed by Jon Heder, and Pedro Sanchez, portrayed by Efren Ramirez. But what has happened to these two actors since they breathed life into their iconic roles?
Jon Heder: From Dynamite to Other Roles
After playing the titular character in ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ Jon Heder took the momentum and ran with it. However, in 2007, he left Hollywood despite establishing himself as a name in the entertainment industry because he felt the environment didn’t suit him:
“I love Hollywood for sure, but I think after a while, we were just like, ‘It’s hot here. It’s so hot.’ I love the Pacific Northwest, having grown up there, so that’s why we moved back. I did not grow up in Hollywood. I do not have Hollywood parents or any kind of pedigree or any family tree that worked in this business, so I’m here; I feel like an outsider. … That’s kind of what set me apart a little bit.”
Still, Heder has continued to act, taking on smaller roles compared to the major ones he had shortly after the release of ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ He took on roles in movies like ‘Benchwarmers’ and ‘Blades of Glory.’ The actor also ventured into the world of animation, lending his voice to characters in movies such as ‘Surf’s Up,’ ‘Pickle and Peanut,’ and ‘Monster House.’ Besides, he has taken part in various TV shows like ‘My Name Is Earl’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother.’
Most recently, he voiced ‘Tybalt’ in last year’s ‘Pinocchio: A True Story.’
Efren Ramirez: From Pedro to Producer
Efren Ramirez, the man behind Pedro Sanchez, has also continued his journey in the world of cinema. After the movie, he landed the role of Catuey in ‘Eastbound & Down’ and acted in ‘Casa de mi Padre.’ The actor has acted in 20 films and 14 television shows since ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ including ‘Employee of the Month’ and ‘When In Rome.’
Speaking to WIVB.com in January this year, the actor expressed his thoughts on being a ‘celebrity’ after his role as Pedro:
“Once ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ hit, it changed everything because, in so many eyes, I became a celebrity. But that’s not where I came from. I came from the theater; I came from this school of the arts.”
Ramirez explored various roles, but he didn’t limit his Hollywood journey to acting alone. He ventured into the realm of music-making as a DJ, co-founded Powerhouse Picture Entertainment, and authored a book with the other co-founder of his business, Chris Barrett.
Efren is passionate about speaking to college students, and in the same interview, he revealed why this is important to him:
“If I connect to students in such a way where I can give them some kind of advice, or in some cases, they can give me advice, then I’m a part of something where we’re trying to figure life out together, and I think that’s important.”