A child wearing a “Vote for Pedro” shirt and a permed wig walking excitedly with his parents was a normal sight to see as The Classic Center hosted a screening and Q&A with the stars of “Napoleon Dynamite” on Feb. 20.
Jon Heder and Efren Ramirez, who portrayed Napoleon Dynamite and his best friend Pedro, respectively, stopped in Athens on a tour throughout the country for the 15th anniversary of the 2004 comedy film.
Before the show, people of all ages lined up outside the theater, with some in the crowd being younger than the movie itself. Attendee Emily Summers, who used to watch the film with her family, said the film holds a special place in her heart.
“It was just a movie that we played any time we wanted to chill and be together,” Summers said. “It’s kind of my childhood.”
The crowd was kept entertained while they waited with a minibar selling drinks and snacks, with tater tots as the featured menu item. There was also a photo booth where people could wear Napoleon or Pedro wigs and hold cut-outs with some of the more well-known movie quotes. Many people were already dressed up as characters.
As everyone got settled in the theater, the movie began to play. There was plenty of laughter throughout and a wonderful energy in the room. At the end of the film’s dance scene, during which the titular character performs a dance routine to "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai, everyone in the audience applauded.
After the film, Heder and Ramirez came out on stage. The crowd was filled with excitement, particularly the younger members. The duo was able to answer questions audience members had for them, offering behind-the-scenes insight. This included Heder getting a perm for the role and revealing that the entire dance scene was improvised. Heder was able to recreate a bit of the dance for the audience, much to their delight.
Another surprise of the night was when an audience member revealed that he was an extra in the movie. In reaction to that, Heder and Ramirez invited him to sit with them on stage for the rest of the Q&A as “he is a part of the cast too.”
The actors were pleased to see how much the movie meant to the audience and talked about how they are continuously surprised at how many people are touched by this movie. Even though Napoleon Dynamite is notoriously awkward, Heder said he’s thankful people find joy in it.
“If I’m going to be remembered as Napoleon, then Napoleon is pretty sweet,” Heder said.